Terminal Groin Project

Terminal Groin Project

Terminal groins are structures that run perpendicular to the shore and close to a tidal inlet to catch sand and keep the shoreline intact. Towns position is that a terminal groin could be a vital part of our beach nourishment program; providing stability in the most erosion prone areas of the island.

Town Beach Management Plan includes submitting an application for a terminal groin structure at the island’s east end adjacent to Lockwood Folly Inlet to stabilize the area.

Holden Beach Terminal Groin Draft Engineer Report was completed August 2013
    1) Preferred Alternative includes three components
.       a) Terminal Groin
.       b) Beach nourishment
.       c) Monitoring
.     2) Proposed intermediate groin structure @1,000’ total length
.       a) @700’ groin length
.       b) @300’ anchor section length that will be buried
.       c) Cost estimated at approximately $2,5000,000
    3) Program is estimated to result in substantial savings over the long term

For additional information visit the Town of Holden Beach website » click here

The US Army Corps of Engineers a federal agency held a public hearing on September 24th to receive public comments on the draft environmental impact statement for Holden Beach’s proposed terminal groin project.

Holden Beach Terminal Groin – Corps ID # SAW-2011-01914
This request is from the Town of Holden Beach for a terminal groin and beach fill project in waters of the US.  The proposed terminal groin is one component of the Town of Holden Beach’s ongoing comprehensive beach management program, described in the Holden Beach 2009 Beach Management Plan. A terminal groin structure on the eastern end of Holden Beach is an alternative that is being considered as the preferred method to reduce the high erosion losses that have historically occurred at the east end of Holden Beach, in addition to proactive sand management of Lockwoods Folly Inlet.
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Holden Beach East End Shore Protection Project
Final Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) / Publication of the Notice of Availability

The Town’s Preferred Alternative (Alternative 6 – Intermediate Terminal Groin with Beach Nourishment) would assume responsibility for East End shore protection through the construction of a terminal groin that would include a 700-ft-long segment extending seaward from the toe of the primary dune and a ~300-ft anchor segment extending landward from the toe of the primary dune.  The groin would also include a 120-ft-long shore parallel T-Head segment centered on the seaward terminus of the main stem. 

Under Alternative 6, construction and maintenance costs would include those associated with construction and maintenance of the intermediate groin and periodic beach nourishment; including the costs of beach fill and groin materials, mobilization/demobilization, monitoring, surveying and permitting.  Additional costs would be associated with risk to properties and infrastructure, loss of recreational opportunities, loss of habitat, and environmental impacts associated with the groin and periodic nourishment and dredging activities.  Over a 30-year planning horizon, assuming $2.5 million for initial groin construction and nourishment of the East End Beach with approximately 150,000 CY of sand every four years, and an annual four percent increase in fill costs, Alternative 6 is expected to involve total construction costs of approximately $34.41 million.
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My Two Cents - CR II

I am on the fence, at this point I am neither for nor against the proposed terminal groin. I’m not convinced that this is a need but rather just another want. The report appears to be written in such a way that it takes a position that the Towns preferred alternative is the best choice and then proceeds to justify that position.  Despite the size of the DEIS they don’t have a cost vs. benefit analysis that shows this is the best course of action for the island. It also does not give any insight into how we plan to pay the estimated thirty-four (34) million dollars for this project. Most disconcerting are the two disclaimers that I have shown below that severely undermine the study’s conclusions. The combination of the estimated cost and the uncertainty of the outcome make me reluctant to endorse this project. On the other hand the Central Reach Project which has been on the back burner is a critical project and from my perspective a clear need and my preferred course of action. If we were to have a breach in that area it would make everything west of the breach inaccessible and uninhabitable since no utilities would be provided there. Frankly I don’t see how we can pay for both. So I’m leaning with making the Central Reach Project the priority over the proposed Terminal Groin Project.

Know the difference between wants and needs?
One of the most basic concepts of economics is want vs. need.
A need is something you have to have.
.          • It’s something you can’t do without.
A want is something you would like to have.
It’s not absolutely necessary, but it would be a good thing to have.

Disclaimers –
DEIS 4.8.1 Economic Benefits
This section describes the potential scope of these values for each of the six alternative actions under consideration for the Holden Beach East End Shore Protection Project. Monetary measures are provided for values that are readily identifiable and measurable based on existing data, such as construction and maintenance costs for the alternatives that involve nourishment or a terminal groin, as well as assessed tax values for properties at-risk to loss from erosion. These values should not be considered definitive and should not be used as the sole basis for choice or ranking of alternatives.

This section should not be considered a formal cost-benefit analysis; it is not an attempt to monetize all aspects of the range of market and non-market costs and benefits that are associated with the alternative actions. Costs and benefits associated with changes in aesthetic appeal, opportunities for recreation, or services provided by the affected natural environment constitute real economic costs but are not monetized as part of this report. Based on results in the published and peer-reviewed literature as described in Appendix M, these values are known to be substantial. However, the precise magnitude, distribution, and timing of these values will remain unknown. As such, the select monetary values that are provided herein should be considered general approximations and not representations of the true economic worth associated with the alternatives. Given the inherent uncertainties regarding specific performance of alternatives over a 30-year project planning horizon, providing an estimate of total costs, total benefits, or net gains is not practical. As a result, ranking of the alternatives based on their relative economic values is not performed.

DEIS 5.2.1 Direct and Indirect Impact Analysis
It is not possible to accurately predict all of the complex environmental variables that influence changes in coastal morphology. In fact, some anthropogenic activities, such as AIWW navigation dredging, were purposely excluded from the modeling runs to minimize the potential for masking of project-induced changes. Consequently, the model-projected changes should not be interpreted as a precise estimate of future conditions in the Permit Area.

Update –
North Carolina Coastal Federation

Since its grassroots formation in 1982 the federation is the state’s only 501(c) (3) non-profit organization that focuses exclusively on protecting and restoring the coast of North Carolina through education, advocacy and habitat preservation and restoration.
For more information » click here

Protect Oceanfront and Inlet Beaches for Public Uses and Maintain Their Natural Functions
North Carolina’s beaches and inlets are some of our coast’s most valuable environmental and economic assets. Our ability to use the beach and inlets is a basic public trust right that we all share. The state’s constitution specifically states that preserving our beaches is part of our common heritage and the responsibility of state government (N.C. Constitution, Article XIV, Section 5).

In recent years, public access and use of our beaches and inlets have become increasingly hampered as some oceanfront property owners push to install hardened structures, such as sand bags and terminal groins, to protect their seaside investments from possible erosion- all at a great cost financially and environmentally.

In an effort to preserve the natural functions of our beaches and inlets and people’s access to these areas, we promote and support alternative ways to address erosion issues at a much lower financial, social and environmental cost. We are also diligently working to prevent hardened structures that are currently proposed along our coast.

The east end of Holden Beach has historically experienced high erosion rates as a result of the natural fluctuations of Lockwood Folly Inlet. The issue confronting the Town of Holden Beach is how best to address the effect of that historic and ongoing erosion on properties in the “East End Project Area” in a manner that is economically sound, maintains the Town’s recreational beach, and can be implemented. On August 28, 2015, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a draft environmental impact statement that analyzed alternatives for responding to the East End erosion over a four-year time span. The alternatives ranged from allowing the erosion to occur naturally to installing an “intermediate” length terminal groin. Based on the analysis presented in the environmental impact statement, three things are clear:

  • Some properties will be lost under any alternative
  • Relocating affected houses is the only alternative that maintains a recreational beach long term
  • Relocating affected houses is the only long-term, cost-effective response. 

The proposed terminal groin and other nourishment alternatives are estimated to cost more than $36 million. In addition to the $2.5 million initial construction cost of the proposed terminal groin, the Town would have to renourish the beach every four years. The 30-year tax revenue from all properties within the 30-year risk area as designated in the Coastal Resources Commission’s 2010 Terminal Groin Study is less than $1.25 million. Based on historical data, a limited number of those properties would be affected, meaning that the lost tax revenue to the Town could be substantially less.

Audubon North Carolina
Members of Audubon North Carolina’s ten local chapters embody the simple enjoyment of birds and the projects that help preserve them.
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Re: SAW-2011-01914 Holden Beach East End Shore Protection Project
Please accept these comments on behalf of the National Audubon Society’s North Carolina State Office regarding the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the project known as “Holden Beach East End Shore Protection Project.”

The DEIS omits the vast majority of the ample body of scientific literature that is available to describe the well-known and accepted physical impacts of terminal groins and beach fill. It then fails to accurately describe the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts that these activities would have on biological resources within Lockwood Folly Inlet…

Alternative 2, as presented in the DEIS, is the only alternative in the DEIS that can and should be considered We urge the Corps to reject all other alternatives presented in the DEIS and consider non-destructive, long-term and economically feasible solutions for the Town of Holden Beach.

Figure 5.4. Holden Beach – Model-Projected YR4 MHW Lines for all Alternatives
Model of all Alternatives II - CR
My Two Cents - CR II

I have now attended two community meetings with representatives from the North Carolina Coastal Federation. Both meetings were interactive discussion groups unlike the meeting for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). Model Lines for all Alternatives picture shown above is the DEIS modelling after four years. Modelling has all the alternate lines reasonably close together regardless of which alternative we select including not doing anything at all. Their doesn’t appear to be any substantial change in the erosion on the east end of the island despite spending thirty-four (34) million dollars for a terminal groin. Also upon further review it seems that the DEIS minimized the cost ($34 million) of alternate six and has exaggerated the costs ($46 million) of alternate one maintaining the status quo. The projections they made regarding the cubic yards required in the annual sand nourishment numbers are not even remotely close to the historical data provided in the Beach Nourishment Report. I am really struggling to form an opinion, positive or negative, so I’m still on the fence. However I’m slowly becoming more and more convinced that a terminal groin is neither economically sound nor in our best interest.

Results show that faced with rising sea levels, terminal groins are likely to cause more harm than good.
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Terminal Groin – Save Rich Inlet Public Forum
Meeting was held on Saturday, March 5th in Wilmington, NC
Forum was to allow contact and interaction with people that have direct expertise on the subject

Forum takeaways –
Danish physicist Niels Bohr –
“Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.”
Even if we assume the models accurately represent all the variables
Nobody knows what’s really going to happen
Because of this, ultimately the answer is imperfect
Analysis with that level of uncertainty is an exercise in futility

We need to do both a cost benefit analysis and a risk benefit analysis
Project is high risk with a high probability that it will not work
Just doesn’t add up – they cannot support constructing a terminal groin

Coastal Scientist Statement on Groin Impacts
Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines
Western Carolina University 

The United States Army Corps of Engineers’ Coastal Engineering Manual describes groins as: “…probably the most misused and improperly designed of all coastal structures…

There is no debate: A structure placed at the terminus of a barrier island, near an inlet, will interrupt the natural sand bypass system, deprive the ebb and flood tide deltas of sand and cause negative impacts to adjacent Islands. 

Using groins in conjunction with beach nourishment projects is of dubious value as well.

The localized and temporary up drift benefits afforded by groins and jetties rarely, if ever, justify the down drift damage caused by increased erosion.

Property Owners’ Understanding of Erosion Control on Holden Beach
Executive Summary
The environmental and socioeconomic implications of terminal groins have been debated nationally and become largely controversial, especially along the North Carolina coast. Coastal communities have recently witnessed the effects of beach erosion on their coastlines, and beachfront properties have already been lost to the sea. These issues are particularly severe on barrier islands and near inlets, both of which are extremely dynamic. Locals often disagree on the best way to control erosion, and town governments struggle to find a balance between safeguarding development on beaches and bearing the economic, environmental, and social costs of erosion intervention options. Terminal groins are one option to slow the impacts of beach erosion or to supplement beach nourishment efforts, despite varied evidence on their level of effectiveness.

The Town of Holden Beach has proposed a terminal groin to save properties that are threatened by beach erosion on the eastern portion of the island. In order to assess homeowners’ understanding of beach erosion and the effects of terminal groins, as well as to understand their preferences for erosion intervention alternatives, a web survey was developed for our client, the Southern Environment al Law Center, to be distributed by the Holden Beach Property Owners’ Association (POA). The POA circulated the survey to their email list of 1096 addresses, and respondents had two weeks to complete the survey.

Results of this study indicate a mixed level of understanding of beach erosion and the impacts of terminal groins, but respondents were very interested in learning more about what the proposed terminal groin would mean for Holden Beach. There was a nearly identical number of responses from those clearly in support of the proposed groin and clearly against the proposed groin (101 and 100 individuals, respectively). Both cost and environmental impacts were deemed to be very important determinants of whether or not respondents supported the proposed groin. According to our study, there is a need for further dissemination of educational materials on impacts of groins and clearer statements of costs for the proposed erosion intervention alternatives. Respondents expressed a strong desire to be included in decision-making processes regarding erosion intervention on Holden Beach.
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Save Lockwood Folly Inlet Website
The Holden Beach proposed terminal groin draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is flawed. It fails to comply with federal law. It does not provide required data and it includes flawed financial analysis of the project.
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Same Tune, Different Players at Holden
Building a wall to curb erosion as this beach town now wants to do on the east end of island is an idea that’s been around for decades. The town’s first mayor, John F. Holden, put up a series of small, wooden walls at the east end sometime in the 1960s, according to his son and the town’s current mayor, Alan Holden. He installed some small groins down at the old pavilion down in the 100 block of Ocean Boulevard East that proved to work very well,” Alan Holden said. “As the current drifted over them the sand would fall on the backside. He had to take them out as they got older.” In the 1970s, John F. Holden worked with the state’s governor to place sandbag groins in the same area where the wooden structures once stood. “They proved to work very well, but we had a problem with people taking knives to them,” Alan Holden said. John F. Holden eventually sought construction of a jetty at Lockwood Folly Inlet by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps, though, decided to build a jetty farther south at Little River Inlet in South Carolina in the early 1980s.

In 1985 North Carolina banned hard structures, including terminal groins and jetties, as erosion control methods on the along the beachfront. There are technical differences between jetties and terminal groins. Jetties are typically bigger and longer than groins, built at navigable inlets to reduce shoaling. Terminal groins are usually built on straight stretches of beach and are perpendicular to the coast. They are designed to trap sand.

John F. Holden would not get to fulfill his pursuit to install a terminal groin or jetty on the east end. He died in 2000, 11 years before the N.C. General Assembly repealed the ban. Now Holden Beach is closer than it’s ever been to the possibility of installing a terminal groin on the east end. The Corps last fall released a draft environmental study on the proposed project. As Holden Beach waits for the agency to release a final environmental impact statement, some town leaders and property owners are seeking answers about whether or not the proposed project will work effectively, is worth the long-term costs and potential environmental impacts.

They will get the opportunity to hear more about terminal groins at a public forum today sponsored by the N.C. Coastal Federation, the Holden Beach Property Owners Association and the Southern Environmental Law Center. “What we’re trying to do is offer a chance to people who are interested to ask questions of the experts and hear the other side of the story as far as what this proposal could to do the town,” said Mike Giles, a coastal advocate with the federation. Tom Myers, president of the Holden Beach Property Owners Association, said a survey the association conducted last August revealed a majority of property owners that responded needed more information about future beach projects. “We’re trying to look at everybody and get a broad understanding of what the opinions are,” Myers said. “Our EIS draft went out and I think there was a lot of frustration there because it was a one-way dialogue. You couldn’t really get into a Q&A session. I think that’s what people really want.”

The federation and Audubon North Carolina have gone on record opposing the proposed project, which would include construction of a roughly 1,000-foot-long terminal groin and subsequent beach re-nourishing that would place anywhere from about 120,000 to 180,000 cubic yards of sand on the beach, according to the draft EIS. Re-nourishment would occur about every four years. Over a 30-year period the project would cost upwards of $35 million. Giles said, economically, the town may be better off if a handful of homes at the east end are relocated. “The entire island is not under threat of erosion from the inlet,” he said. “We think erosion could be controlled by proper dredging of the inlet, when it’s dredged, and beach nourishment.” The proposed project, according to the draft study, would be built on public and private properties, Giles said. He said town officials have not discussed the location with property owners whose land would be affected. “That’s one of the things that is being hashed out as we go forward with the permit process,” Alan Holden said. He supports construction of a terminal groin on the east end, where he said dozens of homes have been lost during his lifetime as a result of erosion. “We look around the world and it’s generally understood that [terminal groins] are a good thing,” he said. John Fletcher, a Holden Beach commissioner, said the jury’s still out for him and other board members as to whether a terminal groin is the best alternative for the town. “We’re waiting for more information,” he said. “We’re hungry for more information. The commissioners have been hoping something like [the public forum] would happen. I’m sure there are cases where terminal groins have worked and cases where terminal groins have not worked.”

The forum will be 6:30 – 9 p.m. at the Holden Beach Chapel Fellowship Hall. Panelists include Stan Riggs, a coastal geologist and distinguished research professor at East Carolina University; Andy Coburn, deputy director of Western Carolina University’s Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines; Doug Wakeman, a retired professor of economics at Meredith College’s School of Business; and Geoff Gisler, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. Town officials and representatives with Dial Cordy and Associates, the contractor that wrote the EIS, have declined an invitation to the forum saying it is inappropriate for them to participate, Myers said. “We’re not trying to interfere in any way with the process,” he said. “We want someone to summarize these big, thick documents. There’s a lot of confusion, a lot of misinformation about what it’s all about. My goal is, if we all agree on all the facts then we’ll come to the same conclusion and there won’t be that much debate.”

State law requires that local voters must approve funding to build a terminal groin. Myers said he hopes the town’s registered voters and property owners, a majority of whom are not year-round residents, have a clear understanding of the proposed project by the time it’s put to a vote.

Holden Beach is among a handful of towns seeking permits to build terminal groins. The Village of Bald Head Island is the first in the state to build a terminal groin since the law was changed in 2011 to allow up to four projects. In 2015, the law was changed again to allow another two groins to be built.  Ocean Isle Beach in Brunswick County and Figure Eight Island, a private barrier island in New Hanover County, are in various stages of the process to obtain permits.

Learn More

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Holden Beach Terminal Groin Public Forum
Meeting was held on Friday, April 29th at Holden Beach Chapel by the Sea
Forum was to allow contact and interaction with people that have direct expertise on the subject

Over one hundred (100) members of the community were in attendance. Everyone agrees that the beach strand is our most valuable asset. Both the HBPOA and Duke University surveys determined that there should be further dissemination of educational material. I applaud the four “Preserve Our Family Beach” Commissioners that attended in an effort to educate themselves so that they can make an informed decision based on the facts. Despite the good attendance it was as interesting to note who was not there. Town officials and representatives with Dial Cordy and Associates, Applied Technology and Management the contractor that wrote the EIS, declined to join the discussion. A number of members of the community that have already decided that they are for the terminal groin were not in attendance apparently they don’t need hearing the opposing viewpoints. Unfortunately, both the Mayor and Commissioner Kyser chose not to attend either.

If you think a terminal groin is a panacea, you were misinformed.

Forum takeaways –
Inherent bias of the speakers towards conservation

Significant disagreement with EIS
.      a) EIS developed to support building a terminal groin
.      b) Overstated benefits, most optimistic assumptions
.      c) Overestimated erosion, not close to historical data
.      d) Underestimated costs, NO telling what actual cost will be but most probably they will be higher
     e) Ripe with uncertainty, which is not dealt with at all
.      f) Long term project, modelling is for just four years
     g) Storms are a critical piece, yet they are not included in modeling

Model - Issue CR

Fiscal analysis – looked at the two end points
.    1) Worst case – Alternate #2, Relocation / Retreat
.    2) Best case – Alternate #6, Intermediate Groin

The Issue: By the Numbers

Parcels Affected:
Alternate #2                 28 total            19 improved
Alternate #6                 16 total            11 improved

Assessed Value:
Alternate #2                 $5.18M
Alternate #6                 $2.10M

Alternate #2                 $0
Alternate #6                 $34.43m

None of the alternatives protect every house
Beach nourishment is not significantly different for either alternatives
Difference between worst case and best case is only eight (8) houses
Only a $3.08M difference in the loss of revenue, the contribution at risk is minimal

The question becomes: Is it worth it?

Critics: Terminal Groins Don’t Stop Erosion
A terminal groin would benefit a handful of homes, protect less than $1.2 million in tax revenue over 30 years and push chronic erosion at the east end of Holden Beach to spots further down the barrier island, according to coastal and economic experts. Fiscal and environmental perspectives of the town’s proposed $34.4 million terminal groin project were presented during a public forum attended by nearly 100 property owners at the Holden Beach Chapel last Friday night.

The draft Environmental Impact Statement – a study put together by a consultant firm hired by the town – makes optimistic assumptions, minimizes project costs and does not address uncertainties of the proposed project, said Doug Wakeman, a retired professor of economics at Meredith College in Raleigh. “Anticipate that the benefits will be lower, the costs will be higher and the uncertainty will largely be ignored,” he said.

The study, which was released for public review last fall, states that 150 properties are at risk along the ocean shoreline in Holden Beach. Andy Coburn, the associate director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University, calculates that number to be much lower. “A terminal groin, if it’s built and if it does exactly what it’s supposed to do, which it won’t, is supposed to protect all 150 properties,” he said. Those properties are seaward of a state-delineated 30-year imminent risk line, and a terminal groin, he said, will not protect all 150 properties, if any at all. By his calculations, the benefits of a terminal groin may accrue to only 32 properties classified as imminent risk.

Over a 30-year period, the projected life of the proposed project, those 32 properties would result in a net present value tax revenue loss of less than $1.2 million, Coburn said. The net present value tax revenue loss over a 30-year period for all 150 properties is about $5.3 million, he said. The preferred project alternative in the study would expand 1,000 feet at the Lockwood Folly Inlet with 300 feet anchored on a portion of the large sand spit at the east end and the remaining 700 feet offshore.

The project’s proponents say a terminal groin would offer a long-term solution to chronic, severe erosion on the east end. Over time, the encroaching Atlantic has claimed numerous homes. Houses that were once second-row homes along McCrary Street are now beachfront properties. Town Mayor Alan Holden, who did not attend the forum, said in a previous interview that dozens of homes on the east end have been lost to erosion.

The town’s consultants on the proposed project, the town manager and the company that conducts the town’s annual beach monitoring reports were invited to be part of the forum. They either declined or did not respond, according to Tom Myers, the president of the Holden Beach Property Owners Association. Myers said the forum, hosted by his group, the N.C. Coastal Federation and the Southern Environmental Law Center, was held in response to a survey conducted last fall that revealed nearly half of property owners said they needed more information about the proposed project. A similar Duke University survey, released late last week, reached the same conclusion. That survey states that there is a “mixed level of understanding of beach erosion and the impacts of terminal groins” and that property owners wanted to know more.

Decisions about terminal groins are being made in towns throughout the southern N.C. coast after the N.C. General Assembly in 2011 repealed a nearly 30-year-old ban on hardened beach erosion control structures. Legislators changed the law in 2015 to allow for up to six terminal groins. Holden Beach, the neighboring barrier island of Ocean Isle Beach in Brunswick County and Figure Eight Island, a private barrier island in New Hanover County, are in various stages of the process of obtaining permits to build terminal groins at their inlets. Construction of a terminal groin at Bald Head Island, another Brunswick County barrier island, is well underway.

Stan Riggs, a coastal geologist and distinguished research professor at East Carolina University, said that the trouble with building terminal groins is that their potential effects are not isolated to one area, but rather the state’s entire coast. “This is not only an incredible coastal system, it’s an incredibly complex coastal system,” Riggs said. “The problem is everybody zeros in on one inlet. That’s like looking at one tree in the forest.” Holden Beach is part of a barrier island system in which 75 percent of the islands are considered “simple” barrier islands. These are low, narrow, sediment-poor islands Riggs calls “mobile piles of sand” and “energy absorbing sponges for the ocean.” The challenge with building structures on these islands is that people are putting “absolutes” on land that shifts and changes, he said. “Those islands have been changing forever and they’re going to continue to change,” Riggs said. “They’re storm dependent.” Storm surge creates the inlets at these islands. Inlets are like safety valves in that they act as outlets, allowing water pushed by powerful storms over and around barrier islands toward the mainland by storms to flow back out to sea. Lockwood Folly Inlet is one of the more stable inlets along the N.C. coast, Riggs said. “If you close it and lock it down the storm surge can’t use that as a safety valve,” he said. There are nine hardened erosion control structures along the state’s coast. Riggs showed how two of those structures, both terminal groins, have worked over the decades. The terminal groin built in the early 1960s in Beaufort Inlet at Fort Macon has shifted the erosion downstream, requiring regular dredging and pumping of sand onto Bogue Banks, Riggs said. A terminal groin built in the late 1980s at Oregon Inlet to protect the southern approach to the bridge over the inlet has created a sort-of erosion domino effect, Riggs said. “The rest of the island is collapsing all the way down to Rodanthe,” Riggs said. “Every example we have has never solved an erosion problem. It just pushes it down the island.” His prediction for Holden Beach is that the same will happen if a terminal groin is built at Lockwood Folly Inlet. “We need to let the natural system work a little bit,” Riggs said. He asked property owners to think about how they can live and move with the island. “We moved a lighthouse,” he said, referring to the 1999 relocation of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The lighthouse, facing an encroaching ocean, was moved 2,900 feet inland from where it had stood since 1870. “We can move anything,” Riggs said. “I want you to think about that because it’s more than just about that one little structure and a few houses.”

Some property owners and town commissioners already have raised concerns about how a terminal groin may affect the town’s proposed “central reach” project. This $15 million beach re-nourishment project would be the largest in the town’s history, placing up to 1.31 million cubic yards of sand along four miles of shoreline. The town board is currently discussing how to pay for the proposed project, which would be funded through a property tax rate increase. Commissioners have not discussed how the town would pay for a terminal groin.

Geoff Gisler, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, said, if you assume the four-year modeling in the draft study is correct, a terminal groin would protect only about five or six houses at the east end. “If you read (the study) you might think of this as an existential threat of the whole island,” he said. “The model does not consider storm impacts. They’re only looking at chronic erosion. Although it describes ongoing and chronic erosion, the historical rates at the east end of the island are five to seven feet at the end of the year.” The model in the study creates a much higher rate of erosion – 20 feet a year. “None of the alternatives protect all of the houses,” Gisler said.

Town Commissioner John Fletcher said he is not yet prepared to state whether or not he supports the proposed project. “I think we still have a lot more to learn about,” he said. It is unclear when the Army Corps of Engineers will release the final EIS.
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My Two Cents - CR II

I have now attended three (3) community meetings with representatives from the North Carolina Coastal Federation. They made a pretty convincing argument against building a terminal groin at Holden Beach. The island is part of a dynamic coastal environment, and is prone to natural movement and change. Even assuming that the EIS model is correct, building a terminal groin will only provide limited protection to very few houses. Meanwhile for the rest of the island it creates greater risk of down drift damage caused by increased erosion further down the beach strand putting other property owners at risk. There are softer alternatives that will allow for natural processes to continue and for the natural habitat to keep evolving as it always has. Based on the presentation, only people who own oceanfront property at the east end of the island would support building a terminal groin here. The comparison of benefits between the various alternatives shows little added protection coming from a terminal groin with a price tag exceeding $35 million dollars. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see that it does not make much sense to spend $35M to save $3M. Numbers almost look like they are a misprint, it’s not a misprint those are the numbers. That did it for me. The taxpayers of Holden Beach will be asked to pay for this structure. You need to ask – What’s it really going to get us? Nobody with even the most rudimentary knowledge of economics, would think that this makes sense. As far as I’m concerned there is nothing to talk about, the fiscal analysis sealed the deal for me. I am no longer on the fence, I CAN NOT SUPPORT building a terminal groin.

You cant always get what you want,
but if
you try sometimes, you might find,
you get what you need.


HBPOA recorded all the presentations for those who could not attend. 

You can view the slides and listen to the presentations on their website.

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Update – October 2016

Timelapse is a zoomable video
See how the ends of Holden Beach and the inlets has changed over the past 32 years.

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After Hurricane Matthew, Ocean Isle Beach awaits terminal groin
Read more » click here


It’s a mystery to me –



OIB 750-foot terminal groin with an estimated construction cost of $5.7 million / @$7,600 foot

HB 1,000-foot terminal groin with an estimated construction cost of $2.5 million / @$2,500 foot

We plan on building a terminal groin that is 250’ longer but will cost $3.2 million less?
Granted that the plans may not be identical
But seriously, they are only going to be approximately ten miles apart
How different could they be?
Let me get this straight –
We plan to build for just 33% of the OIB estimated construction cost?
Terminal groin project is a boondoggle
Project will saddle Holden Beach taxpayers with a huge debt load.

What’s next?

The next steps include the following:
. 1)
Review Final EIS with USACE – November 2016
. 2) Publish final EIS – December 2016
. 3) Submit CAMA permit for review – December 2016
. 4) Public Hearing – January 2017
. 5) USACE record of decision – February 2017
. 6) Federal and State permit issuance – Spring 2017

My Two Cents - CR II

At the October meeting Dial Cordy, an independent environmental consulting firm that works for USACE, gave a presentation on the status of the proposed Terminal Groin. Dawn York gave a brief overview of the Holden Beach East End Shore Protection Project, reviewed the tasks that were completed to date and outlined timeline of what and when next steps were to be completed. As it stands right now, they have yet to publish the Final Environmental Impact Statement therefore they can’t proceed to the remaining steps. So apparently, everything else scheduled after that has been placed on indefinite hold.

Environmental group sues over Ocean Isle Beach terminal groin
Southern Environmental Law Center alleges U.S.A.C.E. did not consider alternatives.

It has been in the works for years, and Ocean Isle Beach officials were hopeful that a terminal groin project would get underway later this year, but the project planned for the Brunswick County barrier island has now run aground against another obstacle, at least temporarily.

On Monday and on behalf of Audubon North Carolina, the Southern Environmental Law Center filed suit in federal court challenging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ approval of the project. The lawsuit claims that the corps failed to objectively evaluate alternatives to the terminal groin, including those that would be less costly to local taxpayers and less destructive to the coast.
Read more » click here

National Audubon Society sues to stop OIB terminal groin
The National Audubon Society has challenged the Ocean Isle Beach terminal groin project by filing a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Read more » click here

Update – October 2017
Terminal Groin presentation was made on October of 2016, a year ago. We have had no communications from the Town regarding the status of our application. All the next step completion dates have come and gone. It would be nice if they kept us informed of the status of the tasks that still need to be completed.

Update – November 2017

HBPOA Meet the Candidates Night – Candidate Responses

Terminal Groin
Since 2011, the Town has pursued permits for a long-term East End beach nourishment Project that includes a Terminal Groin intended to slow downshore erosion along a portion of that beach. The Town’s draft Environmental Impact Statement necessary for the permits was first released in August 2015 and has been pending with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. According to the Town’s draft EIS, the Town’s long-term funding commitment for the project would be $30+ million. Please indicate which best describes your position on the Project.

Joe Butler 

John Fletcher –

Peter Freer

Pat Kwiatkowski –

 Mike Sullivan –

HBPOA Survey Results
Question #11

What should the Town do to combat chronic erosion on the East End of the island?
Regularly renourish the East End by dredging the inlet. / 185
Construct and maintain a terminal groin. / 95
Do nothing. / 54

There does not appear to be a lot of support for a terminal groin. With 239 out of 334 that chose an action, @72% of those responding DO NOT support building a terminal groin.

My Two Cents - CR II

I have been cogitating on the question of where we’re heading vis a vis building a terminal groin here. The combination of the HBPOA survey and the recent election results appear to point to us not moving forward with this project.

Update –  January 2018
Presentation by Clark Wright of Davis Hartman Wright,
Legal Advisor to the Board with Respect to Beach Protection and Other Environmental Issues

Holden Beach Terminal Groin – Fact / Status Sheet
January 16, 2018

  • Town involved in various evaluation, legislation and permitting efforts for 10+ years
  • 2009 CAMA LUP contains language supporting investigating feasibility of HBTG
  • Town provided lobbying funds, political and staff support for State enabling legislation (SB110)
  • BOC enacted Resolution to seek CAMA permit in 2011 (Resolution 11-12, dated 09-13-11
  • BOC effectively reaffirmed support in 2016 (see Minutes of January 2016 BOC Meeting)
  • Town expenditures to-date total to at least $637,161.00 (source: David Hewett)
    • $ 20,000                     “Save our Sand” Lobbyist
    • $401,332                    Dial Cordy – EIS drafting task – USACE 3rd Party Contractor
    • $ 16,889                     Surveying
    • $103,334                    Outside Legal Counsel Services Supporting Process
    • $ 93,305                     ATM – Engineer of Record
    • $ 2,301                      – (data collection; advertising; transcripts)
  • Actions to-date: 
    • USACE – lead federal agency – Section 10/404 Federal Permits – Responsible for EIS process, working with 3rd Party Contractor, Town and other stakeholders; process has covered 6+ years
    • USACE Scoping Meeting – Public Notice issued 02-28-12
    • USACE Public Notice of issuance of Draft EIS was issued on 08-28-15 (in connection with the Town’s Application for Section 10/404 Federal Permits authorizing TG)
    • “Inlet Management Plan” is included as part of Draft EIS
    • “Economic Analysis” addressing various alternatives included in the Draft EIS
    • USACE has provided final comments to Dial Cordy; issuance of the Final EIS is expected within 30 days; FEIS is expected to support preferred alternative for TG
  • Anticipated Future Actions (assumes process continues to move forward):
    • Issuance of the Final EIS within 30 days; FEIS will be published in Federal Register with a notice asking for final comments before USACE writes and publishes final “Record of Decision (“ROD”).”
    • The USACE ROD may be to adopt any of the alternatives described in the FEIS, including the “no action” alternative. It is anticipated that the USACE ROD will endorse the “preferred alternative” described in the DEIS/FEIS (i.e., recommend issuance of Federal Section 10 and Section 404 Permits authorizing construction and operation of a terminal groin at Lockwood Folly Inlet.)
    • Once the FEIS and ROD are published, the Town then can formally submit a Major Development CAMA Permit Application to the NC Division of Coastal Management (DCM). In addition to compliance with all CAMA rules and provisions, the CAMA Permit Application Package must comply with any mitigation measures described in the FEIS, as well as requirements as set forth in SB110, as amended – including financial assurances package that must receive review/approval from the NC Local Government Commission.  [NOTE:  The Town and its contractors have worked on a draft CAMA Permit Application Package; additional work remains to be done to address FEIS requirements; the “financial assurances” package has not been prepared, even in draft form; the Town Manager has obtained copies of packages submitted by several other TG applicants.]
    • Real Property Easements will have to be obtained by the Town from oceanfront property owners owning land where the proposed terminal groin comes ashore, as well as all areas where any physical portions of the structure would be located above mean high water. (Note that terminal groin structures run several hundred feet landward of the mean high-water mark.)
    • In addition to real property easements for the location of TG structures, it is likely that DCM will require the Town to identify and obtain easements from ocean front property owners located within the “service area” of the TG where beach nourishment activities are an integral part of the anticipated “beneficial” functioning of the TG. No easement legal work specific to the TG project has been undertaken by the Town Attorney to-date; parcel information regarding those ocean front property owners recently was provided to the Town Attorney by the Town Manager.  There appears to be overlap of these parcels with those tied to the TG project.  Potentially affected landowners have not received any formal notices or communications from the Town regarding these matters.
  • Related potentially relevant activities include:
    • Ongoing federal litigation filed by NC Audubon and SELC against USACE and OIB
    • Status of Figure Eight Island TG process, currently on hold
    • Status of Federal reauthorization of the NFIP
    • Existing SDI5 Permit, and potential modifications/renewal
    • Town Eastern Reach nourishment project(s)
    • Future repeats of Central Reach Project
    • Potential actions by Brunswick County (Jetty? Purchase of dredge? Other?)
    • Relationship with Oak Island?
    • Relationship with General Assembly?
    • Relationship with NC State Government?
    • Status of endangered species, including sea turtles and sea bird species?
    • Relationships with commercial/recreational fishing interests?
    • Relationships with oceanfront property owners?
    • Potential legal challenges naming Town as a party
    • Potential to cooperate with various NGO’s
    • Establishment of permanent beach and inlet management standing committee or board

My Two Cents - CR IIWe already invested over six hundred and thirty-seven thousand dollars ($637,111) so far. We either continue to support moving forward or cut our losses and pull the plug. We should have already gotten the permit. Once we have the permit in hand, we will have to decide whether to fund it or not. I anticipate an unexpected denouement.

Update – February 2018

What’s next?

The next steps include the following:
1) USACE final EIS published by February 23rd
.     2 ) Public comment period begins – 30 days
    3) USACE Record of Decision (ROD)
.     4) CAMA application completed
    5) Federal and State permit issuance / Permits expire in five (5) years

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