Editorial: Missing Beach Nourishment Funding

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 27 January 2021 01:44

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

There's no current federal funding for beach renourishment for our area beaches. We were told by Congressman David Rouzer the funding and projects were approved, but due to some unknown action or oversight, the funding was not in fact appropriated by Congress.
At this point, no one knows why. But local leaders are trying to find answers and other options to fill the void left by the federal government.
We need beach renourishment to protect life and property along our area beaches.
President Donald Trump signed the omnibus spending bill on Dec. 27th which was supposed to include funding for local beach renourishment projects in the coming years. Carolina Beach Mayor Leanne Pierce said on Monday January 25th, local leaders were surprised to find out that federal funding was actually not appropriated by Congress and they are seeking answers as to what happened.
Mayor Pierce said on Monday January 25th, they first learned of the lack of funding for the projects on Thursday January 21st, and stated, "There's zero federal funding appropriated for beach nourishment in the latest congressional legislation. We don't know why. It was in the bill but at some point was removed."
Pierce said the Town is reaching out to Congressman David Rouzer who worked hard to get sand funding approved in December 2020.
Earlier this year, according to Town officials, highlights of the report and Recommended Plan:
• Failure to re-nourish will result in severe beach and dune erosion, destruction of property, wildlife habitat, loss of beach recreation area and result in large negative impacts to our tourist based economy.
• The Recommended Plan will reduce coastal storm damage to homes, businesses and critical infrastructure, mitigate future land loss, maintain recreational value and demand of the beach, and possibly reduce emergency response time.
• The Plan would benefit habitat for sea turtles, shore birds and other wildlife.
• The Plan will benefit our local economy by maintaining the area as a year round tourist destination and support related businesses and jobs. The latest congressional legislation will continue beach renourishment in Carolina Beach until 2036 on a three year cycle with the next renourishment project scheduled for 2022 pending available funding,
The cost of such projects are split among federal, state and local dollars.
Historically, such local projects cost is shared with the Federal Government paying 65% and the State of North Carolina and local governments splitting the remaining 35%. A tax on hotel, motel, and vacation rental accommodations funds the local government portion of the project cost. Both Towns are on a three-year renourishment cycle. Under the latest legislation, the cost for Carolina Beach would have been split 50% local dollars and 50% federal dollars with work originally expected to take place from November 2021 to April 2022.
On Tuesday January 26th, Carolina Beach Town Manager Bruce Oakley explained, "We found out that our federal funding for our upcoming nourishment project was not approved in this year's appropriation bill. It was a surprise to everyone. We are working closely with the County and our municipal partners to come up with options. Our first option is to find some other federal funding and complete the project as scheduled. Otherwise, we will have to look for other methods of funding (state, county, local funding, etc.)."
Let's hope the new Congress can revisit this issue and restore the necessary funding for these projects. However, with all that Congress is dealing with at the moment, we may have to wait a while before a solution is found.

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