Towns Concerned About Lack Of Federal Beach Nourishment Funding

The Town of Carolina Beach and other local beach Towns are concerned after they learned last week that funding for important beach nourishment projects was not included in recent Congressional legislation as promised by federal officials. Now they are exploring other options to fund such projects.  (File Photo). The Town of Carolina Beach and other local beach Towns are concerned after they learned last week that funding for important beach nourishment projects was not included in recent Congressional legislation as promised by federal officials. Now they are exploring other options to fund such projects. (File Photo).

Towns Concerned About Lack Of Federal Beach Nourishment Funding Featured

By / Local News / Tuesday, 26 January 2021 01:46

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH -   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.
In July of 2020, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved a bipartisan ports and water resources development bill that included authorization for continued federal support of beach renourishment projects in Wrightsville, Carolina and Kure Beaches.  The bill was suppposed to authorize $53.788 million in federal funding for use over the remaining lifetime of the Wrightsville Beach renourishment project, which would continue until 2036.
According to a release by Republican Congressman David Rouzer earlier this month, "The bill also includes a 15-year extension of the beach renourishment project at Carolina and Kure Beaches.  A 50-year authorization for the project had expired in 2012 and federal participation has been operating on short-term extensions since then.  The bill authorizes $24.205 million in federal funding for the 15-year extension, which will begin in 2022."
Congressman Rouzer, a member of the Committee who has long advocated for federal support of beach re-nourishment efforts in southeastern North Carolina, issued the following statement following the bill’s passage: "These are major wins that were in doubt just a few years ago when I was first elected," said Congressman David Rouzer.
Only later did local governments discover the funding was left out of the legislation.
"Southeastern North Carolina’s beaches are a national treasure, and they’re also the bedrock of these local coastal communities that support job growth for our region.  Federal support for these renourishment projects are key to preserving property and limiting the financial losses that hurricanes and other major storms would otherwise cause, which saves the federal government money too.  I’m looking forward to passage on the floor of the House and getting this legislation signed into law later this year."
Rouzer explained in a press release, "Included in the overall package was a water resources development bill that includes major wins for Southeastern North Carolina.  Among those wins, the federal funding cap for Wrightsville Beach was lifted allowing for federal funds to continue to be used for coastal storm damage reduction, and authorization for those projects at Carolina Beach and Kure Beach is a certainty for years to come."
In July of 2019, the Town  of Carolina Beach asked citizens to submit a letter of support to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for continued federal beach nourishment  through 2036.
The USACE Wilmington District recently published a "Draft Integrated Beach Renourishment Evaluation Report and Environmental Assessment (BRER/EA) for Carolina Beach, - June 2019."
Earlier last 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.)."

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