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FIGURE EIGHT ISLAND, NC (WWAY) — The fight is on to save rich inlet from disappearing from the north end of Figure Eight Island. Some want a terminal groin, which is a jetty-like structure. But others say that would ruin the inlet’s beauty and animal habitats.

“The inlets are like the heart, the pump that moves water,” ECU geology professor Stan Riggs explained. “They are a big transport system, and they move water in and out from the estuaries to the oceans, and vise-versa. They move the fish, they move the nutrients, and they move the sand.”

The Figure Eight home owners association wants to build a terminal groin, a metal and rock barrier on the beach to stop erosion endangering some ocean front homes.

But Riggs says it’s a waste of millions of dollars that would wash away all of this land, and the animals that call it home.

“If you don’t have sand on the beach,” Riggs said, “you don’t have fish in the water anymore. You can have megalopolis, but you don’t have a natural barrier island.”

Coastal biologist Lindsay Addison says the bird habitat on the island is the largest colony on record in North Carolina in over forty years.

“This year it’s the largest colony on the entire Atlantic coast,” Addison said. “It represents about a third of the breeding least turns in the state.”

Addison says if a terminal groin is put in, the habitats of thousands of birds would cease to exist.

“The terminal groin would remove this big sandy spit, and prevent it from ever forming again,” she said.

Figure Eight homeowner Fred Stanback says the homes are no longer at risk, so he says the terminal groin is pointless.

“It won’t work. It will be very expensive. It’s unnecessary. It destroys bird habitats, and I hope that it never happens,” Stanback said.

Without each property owner’s permission the homeowners association cannot even apply for permits to build the terminal groin.

We tried speaking with those for the structure, but they did not want to go on camera.

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6 Comments on "Environmentalists, homeowners against terminal groin that would wash away Rich Inlet"

Heimie Schmelter
2015 years 10 months ago

Do a little research on the Jersey Shore and you’ll begin to understand the effects of terminal groins and other hard structures. That coastal area has been absolutely ruined by them and will never return to it’s original beauty. There is one big environmental point you fail to understand. The ocean and its sand cannot be controlled in such a manner that it doesn’t affect something on one or both opposite sides. That can be in the form of exponential beach erosion and marsh destruction in adjacent areas.
Here’s another basic fact for ya “Doc”. The very reason that our beaches here require revitalization from time to time is purely because the beaches and the barrier islands are nothing other than “sand”. Unlike the northeast we have no rock, no structure to hold it all together and is the very reason it constantly moves. Hard structures will only make that sand movement worse for others and amplify the currents that induce rip tides. Look at some fairly recent history here: The Holiday Inn Sunspree is built directly on top of what used to be an inlet that once formed “Shell Island”. Shell Island no longer exists in any form other that an ugly building that was once destined to become sacrificial to the sea. Bald head Island is no longer an “island”. The inlet no longer exists that made it an island, so you can walk there from Carolina beach. This my dear “well known scientist” is the natural order of our barrier islands. Always has been and always will be. There is no need for man-made structures in an attempt to screw it all up as has occurred up north, just to save a few homes that should’ve never been built there in the first place! Another tip “Doc, most of us realize that our inlets have a tendency to migrate south over time in this region. That means “don’t build on the north end of the barrier island.”. This very same error has been made on Topsail Island, Lee Island, Figure Eight Island, Wrightsville Beach and Bald head Island. That in itself proves that some people just have much more money that common sense!

Bill Perry
2015 years 10 months ago

I am a well known scientist that lives directly behind Rich Inlet on Futch Creek. I have plied these waters for 35 years in sailboats and powerboats. The so called environmental experts are incorrect in their claims about rock jetties, as they have no proof of their claims, and where are homeowner objections?
Masonboro Inlet and many others are fine examples of increased habitat for sea life because the rocks provide something for that sea life to cling to. For example: the 1000 acres of dunes and beach added, and Masonboro Island saved by the jetties there, Fort Macon, the dunes and expanse and public access created and protected, Fort Fisher and the huge parking lot and beach created—the huge rock jetty that the Yankees put in the River to stop Rebel Blockade Runners, the huge bay created. The list goes on and on down through history—nigh every example increases habitat for marine life.
The nursery areas, the marshes etc are not harmed by inlet jetties. That bit about inlets being some sort of magical pumps is a stretch, as the inlet is actually a drain hole, and when it is 100% sand as Riches is, it is rather sterile—you can fish for days in that sand, it is about like fishing in the street.
As long as there are no jetties, you will continue to see the dredging and sand being pumped onto the beaches, this loose sand then can easily form rip currents which predominate the drowning hazards at local beaches, and which are now also rendered rather sterile with little marine life.

2015 years 10 months ago

I Google Bill Perry and well known scientist Bill Perry. Didn’t find anything about you. What type of scientist are you? Where did you do your Environmental studies at?

Think you are just blowing smoke.

2015 years 10 months ago

“The Rocks” was built after the Civil War and for a different reason. To quote a NC Division of Parks and Recreation publication : “In the late 19th century, a long rock jetty called “The Rocks” was built west of Fort Fisher to aid navigation by stopping shoaling in the Cape Fear River. Completed in 1881, The Rocks closed the former New Inlet, once used by Confederate blockade-runners”. The bay was already there as part of the old inlet, they just blocked it off. Conversely, that also implies that prior to its construction, more shoals (sand) was being deposited instead of less.

Is this what you’re talking about or were you referring to something else, because if it is, I fail to see how that makes your point.

Guest Reply Redux
2015 years 10 months ago

“Homeowners Against Arthur” don’t they mean?….

Scott Brown
2015 years 10 months ago

Heinie I think you should go back and read what both you and “Doc” said.

You proved the majority of his points.

No we don’t have rocks along the coast like up north. That is why we want to put them out there.

If the inlets close up, then there is no way for the fish to migrate, and the marsh to be the breeding grounds for so many species.


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