Officials meet to discuss terminal groin proposal by Figure 8 Island

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The North Carolina Coastal Federation met with the Army Corps of Engineers Tuesday to discuss several concerns. The big topic – the proposed terminal groin at Rich’s Inlet by Figure Eight Island.

David Kellam, the administrator of the Figure Eight Homeowner’s Association, says about 15 houses on the north end of the island are facing serious beach erosion, which is why they are asking for approval for the terminal groin.

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“There were about 15 homes on the north end that were imminently threatened,” Kellam said. “It has been about a 15-year cycle that various aspects, various areas of the north end of the island have been severely impacted by erosion.”

Coastal advocate Mike Giles met with members of the Army Corps of Engineers to discuss the proposal; the project has been in discussion for months, and Giles said the final review was expected by the end of October.

According to Giles, the biggest issue with the terminal groin proposal is that the spot is home to many species of animals, including the endangered Piping Plover and other shore birds like the Red Knot. Giles also said the HOA has not given officials a consultation with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, which must be done before the project can even be considered.

Giles says these habitats are home to several species year round, but some of the beaches will erode away, because the terminal groin would be there.

“Not only will birds be threatened by the loss of habitat, but you would lose public trust areas,” Giles said. “You would lose beaches and critically important intertidal flats that are important to fish species.”

Kellam said the HOA is having a complete environmental impact survey done, and he says the groin will not endanger the environment.

“We, Figure Eight, presently manage and maintain the bird nesting areas and the habitat up there, and certainly we think that is not going to be negatively affected,” Kellam said.

Kellam added that if approved, residents plan to pay for the project.

Giles said he expects the Corps of Engineers to release a supplemental draft impact statement some time next year, and then there will be a 60-day public comment time period.