Turtle nesting season forces early stop to Surf City beach renourishment


SURF CITY, NC (WWAY) — The Town of Surf City has been working tirelessly to renourish their beaches in order to rebuild the dunes destroyed during Hurricane Florence.

WWAY reported Wednesday that project was cut short, but as of Thursday that decision is final.

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Wednesday was the start of the sea turtle nesting season along our coast and the town hoped to be finished with the project by then. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen after CAMA reportedly instructed the town to sift the sand before placing it on the beach.

Mayor Doug Medlin explained that this delayed the process.

“When we have to sift the sand it takes twice as long to put the sand on the beach,” Medlin said.

Residents like Dave and Patty Gilbride, who are worried that part of the island will be unprotected, say that’s no excuse.

“They simply react when there’s a mess instead of planning in advance and making sure that these things are taken care of,” Dave said.

“We knew turtle season starts May 1 and we also know hurricane season starts June 1,” Patty explained. “We know the importance of the dune in protecting everything that’s behind the dune. Any reasoning that they would’ve had that the project wasn’t completed doesn’t hold sand, if you will.”

Mayor Medlin said the the city had applied for an extension past the May 1 deadline, but since evidence of sea turtles have already been spotted on the beach means an extension is no longer possible.

The town says it could not start moving the sand until February because of a process required by FEMA that would make the town eligible for $5 million in reimbursement. The town says it chose that plan so residents would not have to incur the cost.

A larger beach renourishment project is scheduled for the fall.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include the town’s explanation of why it chose its sand haul plan.