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Dredging causes erosion along Bald Head Island, residents fear more with Hurricane Bill


Parts of Bald Head Island are slowly being eaten away. Unfortunately, the beach is being broken down by the human hand. Officials say people are the main reason why Bald Head has lost more than a hundred feet of beach and dunes.

“We’ve lost hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of sand, in a short amount of time, this isn’t sea level rise. This is an impact caused by human beings, and we need a human solution,” said Executive Director of Bald Head Conservancy Suzanne Dorsey.

Bald Head resident Bob Helgesen said, “You could physically watch the beach cascade away, and break off, into the channel. And they would go down and take another bite, and the same thing would happen.”

About ten years ago, the Cape Fear shipping channel was relocated closer to the island. The Army Corp of Engineers has been dredging that channel to allow the ships to pass and to renourish beaches like Oak Island.

Officials from Bald Head blame the Corp, and the dredging, for the loss of more than a hundred feet of beach. The ships pass, creating waves that eat away at the shoreline, while destroying natural habitat and nesting ground located within the dunes.

“Because of the perpetual dredging out there, that ultimately will take away the whole part of the island,” added Helgesen.

Experts say with Hurricane Bill threatening our coast, they may lose an additional 10 to 20 feet of dune.

Nestled in these dunes are living habitat and nesting ground for sea turtles. With the threat of wave swells reaching ten feet, experts are concerned the storm will endanger the life on this island.

Maureen Dewire of the Bald Head Conservancy said, “When we do get high tides, and high waves and the water sits over that nest for too long a period of time, the eggs will drown, it will kill the entire egg.”

Experts believe the solution would be to move the channel farther away from the island, so the constant dredging does not affect the beach as much as it does now. But state and federal officials say doing that, would be too expensive.

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videoHurricane Bill has Bald Head Island residents and officials concerned. Even though Bill may stay far off our coast, the storm churns up the water and the massive swells can erode the beach.

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