The waterway at Rich’s Inlet was the scene of a press conference held by the North Carolina Coastal Federation, North Carolina Audubon and the Southern Environmental Law Center Wednesday, July 2.
Tuesday, July 1, Coastal Federation coastal advocate Mike Giles said the purpose of the press conference was the renewal of awareness of the proposed terminal groin at the north end of Figure Eight Island and to kick off NCCF’s campaign to inform the residents of the private island.
“We feel like the people on Figure Eight are not getting the right story from the few homeowners there that want this groin,” Giles said. “We want to publicize what the issues are and we want to start working with the Figure Eight residents that might not be aware of the issues here because many of them live elsewhere.”
Another reason to hold the press conference in the inlet was to show how much the north end of Figure Eight Island has grown.
“Since 2009, it has been building up and now there is no need to do anything because there is a big, wide, beautiful beach with a huge shoal,” he said. “There are no houses that are threatened currently on the oceanfront at the north end of Figure Eight.”
Possibly because of the development of sand on the north end, Giles said the Figure Eight Island Homeowners Association is now proposing the terminal groin be built further into the inlet than what was previously planned.
Roughly one year ago, Figure Eight released the draft environmental impact study for the proposed terminal groin and Southern Environmental Law Center director Derb Carter said a new location for the terminal groin would be another reason for a new environmental impact study.
“Our review was that the draft was so inadequate in assessing the environmental impacts that they should be required to prepare another draft for public review before they go to a final environmental impact statement,” Carter said during a July 1 phone interview. “The first document was inadequate and in addition they have now changed the location of the terminal groin, which is a circumstance that should require a new statement.”
Figure Eight Island Home Owners Association submitted the draft EIS to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Carter said the corps would decide if a new draft is required.
If the terminal groin is built at the north end of Figure Eight, Giles said the entire spit of sand north of the groin would wash away into the inlet. That sand is habitat to nesting shorebirds. Giles said its loss would be a hit for species like the piping plover and also for land entitled to public trust.
That land has also been accreting for the homeowners on the inlet side of the island, Giles said.
“You have these intertidal sand flats that have created a nesting habitat for thousands of shorebirds … and places for people,” Giles said. “Right now what we feel like is it is a critical time to say, why does Figure Eight need any kind of project?”