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Environment

First of Outer Banks beach nourishment projects underway in Kill Devil Hills

Mike Fullmer excavates sand from in front of homes in Nags Head, North Carolina
Madeline Gray
/
for WUNC
Mike Fullmer excavates sand from in front of homes in Nags Head, North Carolina on March 24, 2022. The sand that is dredged from out in the ocean for beach nourishment is finer than the sand typically found on the beach so it blows around more and is easily displaced.

A beach nourishment project that began Monday in Kill Devil Hills is the first of seven planned along the Outer Banks this summer.

More than two and half miles of beach in front of the town will be built up over the next month or so, but it’s expected to affect beach use only in a small area that will move every few days.

“It moves pretty quickly; they work around the clock,” said Dorothy Hester, a spokeswoman for Dare County. “But you'll also probably notice that everyone's very careful not to say exactly when it's going to be where, because of weather and equipment and fueling and, you know, because everybody wants to know, when's it going to be right in front of my house, and there's no way to tell people.”

A similar project begins in Avon later this month, and others are scheduled to start throughout the summer in Buxton, Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, Southern Shores and Duck.

The work will last a month or two in each location and involves pumping sand through huge pipes onto miles of beach — nearly four and a half miles at Nags Head alone.

Hester says the work isn’t likely to affect beach use in front of a given house or access area more than a few days.

“And they do try to provide access around it, you know, you may have to walk a little further to get over the ramps that they put out there,” Hester said. “But yeah, they're working to try to inconvenience as few people as possible.”

She says the multi-million-dollar projects are mainly funded with a mix of money the towns pulled together, plus a county occupancy tax. At least one project was able to use federal disaster relief money due to storm damage.

During the work, monitors will be used to protect sea turtles and their nests.

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