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Harbor dredging project at Bald Head nears completion

Sand placement along South Beach is nearing completion.

Posted on April 3, 2023

Crews have almost finished putting approximately 1-million cubic yards of sand along Bald Head Island’s South Beach as part of the Wilmington Harbor shipping channel maintenance.

Funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, this effort is to keep the shipping lane at a depth of 42 feet at mean low water. The side benefit is that Bald Head’s beach gets a healthy dose of clean sand. Conducted generally every two years, dredging puts sand on Bald Head Island two times and a third effort adds sand to Caswell Beach and Oak Island.

“We’re getting the volume expected and the distance is being covered,” said Carin Faulkner, spokeswoman for the village government. She said workers are expected to finish removing pipes and heavy equipment between April 3 and April 5.

Work employing the major-class cutterhead suction dredge Savannah started in December 2022. Faulkner said the ship is scheduled to move to Florida for its next assignment.

The project did not directly benefit one of the most eroded spots on the island at the Shoals Club, where South and East beaches meet. The club is using sandbags to protect walkways and other structures, and is seeking permission from state environmental regulators to use more – and larger – sandbags.

Meanwhile, the village’s consultants are trying to obtain authorization to pull sand from nearby Jay Bird Shoals to further protect the Shoals Club. If approved after an environmental assessment, the project would take place during the winter of 2025.

Jay Bird Shoals is the shallow spot at the ocean entrance to the Cape Fear River where Bald Head Island and Oak Island have taken limited amounts of sand for beach improvements.

Removal of sand from the shoals is tightly regulated and monitored, in part, because the shoals attenuate ocean wave action that could otherwise erode parts of Caswell Beach, or possibly Southport.


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