Many supporters have been asking for talking points as they can write their comments.   We have compiled the following list of bullet points that we hope will be helpful.  The deadline for written comments was 2/3/2014, but you can still use these talking points when communicating with your Representative in Congress.  Click here to find your Representative.10618888855_8a48361840_o

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the National Park Service are proposing to place dredged material from the Morehead City Harbor project on Shackleford Banks, which has long been managed as a wilderness area.  This unprecedented disruption of the undeveloped Shackleford Banks ecosystem is a bad idea for several reasons:

  • Shackleford Banks is an undisturbed ecosystem that should be allowed to remain in a natural state.
    • In the draft Dredged Material Management Plan (DMMP), the Corps describes Shackleford Banks as a barrier island that is part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore, which consists “mostly of wide bare beaches with dunes covered by scattered grasses; flat grasslands bordered by dense maritime vegetation and large expanses of salt marsh alongside Back Sound.”  (Draft DMMP, p. 151).  “The relatively low human presence on Shackleford Banks results in greater wildlife population than the urban and developed Bogue Banks.”  (Draft DMMP, p. 193).
    • As recognized by the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (“DMF”), “[t]he ocean nearshore waters along this island are largely undisturbed and are valuable fishing areas.  Nesting sites for Wilson’s plover, American oystercatcher, and sea turtles were reported by the National Park Service in 2010 on Shackleford Banks.”  (DMF Comments, May 31, 2011).
    • “Apart from the effects of a small herd of feral horses, ecological systems on the island are substantially free from the effects of modern civilization and natural processes on the island are allowed to function free of human control or manipulation.”  (Draft DMMP, p. 216).
  • Disposal of dredged material on the island has significant potential to adversely impact the undisturbed ecosystem of Shackleford Banks due the use of heavy mechanized equipment, addition of sand, and nighttime lighting.
    • As recognized by DMF, beach and nearshore disposal on Shackleford Banks could have “significant impacts on fish habitat” and “could disrupt the local food web.”  DMF has said it “sees no justification for the amount of disturbance that would be caused by including Shackleford Banks as a disposal area.”  (DMF Comments, May 31, 2011).
    • “Shackleford Banks doesn’t need any sand,” Orrin Pilkey, James B. Duke Emeritus of Geology Professor at Duke University, said. “It’s crazy to try and stop that erosion. Barrier islands are very flexible and dynamic.  This is completely against the NPS’s philosophy on parks.”  Other leading scientists familiar with the ecology and geology of Shackleford Banks are opposing the federal plan.
  • The federal plan would reduce by almost half the amount of sand available for renourishment of Bogue Banks, where it is needed to protect valuable investments in infrastructure as well as recreational uses, including the most visited state park.
    • The property values for Atlantic Beach total $1,709,259,545, of which $622,780,775 represents ocean front property.
    • Fort Macon is an important historic landmark and the most visited state park in North Carolina and could be adversely impacted by the federal plan.
    • The federal plan will likely result in most of the sand being placed at Fort Macon and eastern Atlantic Beach where it will be rapidly transported back to the channel, providing almost no benefit to western Atlantic Beach and other communities west.
    • It is critical for a sufficient quantity of sand to be placed west of the nodal point where it will provide protection for Atlantic Beach and other communities to the west.
  • While erosion is occurring at the western tip of Shackleford Banks due to the navigation project, the affected area is limited and there is no evidence that this loss adversely affects any ecological function on Shackleford Banks or threatens the wilderness and recreational uses made of the island.
    • The lengthy and detailed DMMP doesn’t make any suggestion of ecological harm occurring to Shackleford Banks – because there isn’t any!
    • The area affected by channel-induced erosion is a small percentage of the 3,000 acre island.
    • The area being lost to erosion didn’t exist 50 years ago but was created by relatively recent buildup of sand at the west end of Shackleford.
    • Because Shackleford is undeveloped, and will never be developed, there is no threat to buildings or other infrastructure due to beach erosion.
  • The most critical area of erosion at Shackleford is the western tip.  However, if dredged material is placed in this area, it will be rapidly transported back into the channel.  The federal agencies are therefore not even proposing to place dredged material in this area.  Instead, they propose to place the material in the middle of island, where there is not a significant erosion problem and where the dredged material will do little to mitigate the area that the navigation project has most significantly impacted (western tip).

For the reasons discussed above, we do not favor any disposal of dredged material at or offshore of Shackleford Banks and strongly oppose the preferred alternative set forth in the draft DMMP.