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Local leaders discuss future of inlet dredging

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CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- Where were you when the ship hit the sand? That’s the question Carolina Beach Inlet association is asking state and federal lawmakers, but they say it’s no laughing matter.

"It's very dangerous right now I'd like to say that these inlets are being maintained, but they're being maintained to the minimal level,” said Robert Schoonmaker of the Carolina Beach Inlet Association. “They're being maintained just enough to where they don't pull the buoys out of the inlet."

The Carolina Beach Inlet Association pulled together a collection of some of Southeastern North Carolina’s top politicians to discuss where the next round of funding for inlet dredging would come from after the Corp of Engineers left them dead in the water without any funding.

"As far as the local beaches unfortunately with that legislation it's a one on one match,” said Rep. Ted Davis. “Every dollar that the state gives the locals have to come up with a dollar. Being familiar with the three beach municipalities Wrightsville, Kure, and Carolina I was able to shed knowledge on the fact that they just don't have that money."

To cut costs, one audience member proposed merging dredging operations with beach nourishment by taking control of the inlets away from the Corp of Engineers.

"We're evaluating options that would allow us the same authorization that the Corp has to maintain our Carolina Beach Inlet,” said Layton Bedsole, New Hanover County Shore Protection Coordinator. “In that authorization we may be able to negotiate the beneficial placement of that material in a near shore or on shore area which would be good for the inlet as well as beneficially reusing that sand on the beach."

County commissioner Jonathan Barfield reminded those in attendance that the county has chipped in for dredging in the past and could possibly do so again.

Representative Davis says he will work to get the state to pick up more of the tab in the future.

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