Let’s start with a question many have …
What is Beach Nourishment on the Outer Banks?
On the Outer Banks, or any beach for that matter, beach nourishment widens existing beaches by pumping sand from offshore “borrow sites” or sandbars onto the shoreline. The goal of these projects is to provide an added barrier of protection to shorelines that have experienced significant erosion.
Aside from preserving the beach, nourishment projects are also conducted to prevent property and infrastructure damage in these exposed areas.
2023 Outer Banks Beach Nourishment Projects
Beach nourishment projects require management as time goes on. The most recent round of nourishment on the Outer Banks took place in 2022 in the towns of Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head. The town of Duck was nourished in the spring of 2023.
This video explains the 2023 Outer Banks beach nourishment projects more:
Beach Nourishment Projects In Dare County
Dare County’s Board of Commissioners moved forward with financing the beach nourishment project in Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, and Kill Devil Hills during their August 16th, 2021 meeting. The Nags Head project is being planned separately from this multi-town project.
Bids were received by three companies in early September and Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Woodard signed a letter of intent with contractor Weeks Marine on September 20th.
The engineering firm for the project is Coastal Protection Engineering in Wilmington, NC.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced on December 2nd, 2021 that an agreement has been executed with Dare County to allow the relocation of 6.6 million cubic yards of sand from Outer Continental shelf borrow sites for the beach nourishment projects beginning in 2022.
BOEM is a sub-agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
In March 2022, tentative project schedules were announced for the towns of Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head.
Beach Nourishment Projects In Duck, NC
The Town of Duck completed its portion of the multi-town project on May 9, 2023. The project area was between Skimmer Way and the Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility property. For more detailed information, visit MoreBeachToLove.com.
Previous Beach Nourishment In Duck
The last beach nourishment project in Duck was completed on June 28th, 2017.
1.7 miles of shoreline was nourished between Skimmer Way and the Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility, the same area where nourishment is planned for 2022.
Beach Nourishment Projects In Southern Shores, NC
The Town of Southern Shores completed its portion of the multi-town project on November 22, 2022. The shoreline running the entire length of the town received beach nourishment (approximately 3.8 miles). For more detailed information, visit MoreBeachToLove.com.
Previous Beach Nourishment In Southern Shores
The last Southern Shores beach nourishment project was completed on August 6th, 2017.
2,500 feet of shoreline was nourished from the Kitty Hawk town line north to 44 Ocean Boulevard.
Beach Nourishment Projects In Kitty Hawk, NC
The Town of Kitty Hawk completed its portion of the multi-town project on October 18, 2022. The shoreline running the entire length of the town received beach nourishment (approximately 3.97 miles). For more detailed information, visit MoreBeachToLove.com.
Previous Beach Nourishment In Kitty Hawk
The last beach nourishment project in Kitty Hawk was completed on October 21st, 2017.
3.97 miles of shoreline was nourished (the entire length of the town).
Beach Nourishment Projects In Kill Devil Hills, NC
The Town of Kill Devil Hills completed its portion of the multi-town 2022 re-nourishment project on July 22, 2022. The project area was between the town line with Kitty Hawk and 270 feet north of Prospect Avenue to the south (approximately 2.74 miles).
Previous Beach Nourishment In Kill Devil Hills
Kill Devil Hills’ last beach nourishment project was completed on July 27th, 2017.
2.6 miles of shoreline was nourished from the Kitty Hawk town line south towards Prospect Avenue.
Beach Nourishment Projects In Nags Head, NC
The Town of Nags Head beach nourishment project was completed on August 27, 2022. The project area was between Milepost 16 south of Jennette’s Pier and 10435 South Old Oregon Inlet Road near the town’s southern boundary.
The 2022 Nags Head beach nourishment project is being planned separately from the others in Dare county, and Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. is the dredging contractor. It will replace sand lost during Hurricane Dorian in 2019 and will put Nags Head on the same re-nourishment schedule as Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, and Kill Devil Hills going forward.
Previous Beach Nourishment In Nags Head
The last renourishment project in Nags Head was completed on August 18th, 2019, and the town’s first beach nourishment project was completed in May 2011.
Both projects spanned the area from the Bonnett Street public beach access at 2919 South Virginia Dare Trail to the town’s boundary with Cape Hatteras National Seashore (from Milepost 11 to Milepost 21 – approximately 10 miles of beach).
The contractor, Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., used two offshore borrow sites to place 4.6 million cubic yards of sand in the project area.
This helpful video explains the 2019 project further:
Beach Nourishment Projects In Corolla, NC
The town of Corolla has not had a beach nourishment project.
Corolla began a 3-year beach monitoring and beach stability assessment in spring 2020 to help determine any future beach nourishment plans. The first year of monitoring is complete, and the assessment and the assessment’s referenced Appendix C are available to the public.
More About Beach Nourishment on the Outer Banks
Beach nourishment schedules on the Outer Banks are very dynamic due to weather, equipment, and other factors that can arise. The work runs 24 hours/day during the projects and moves fairly quickly. Dredge support operations begin approximately one month before construction, which includes laying subline and assembling land-based machinery.
Once construction begins, there is generally a closed section of beach about 1,000 feet in length which moves as the work progresses along the shore. A dredge is used to pump sand through sublines onto the beach, and bulldozers are used to spread the sand. Pipes are connected to the subline as work moves forward, and sand ramps are built over the pipe to provide pedestrian beach access to the freshly nourished shore. As work continues forward, the pipes are relocated near the next subline.
After the beach nourishment project is completed, new sand fencing is usually installed and native sprigs are planted to further stabilize the dune line along the freshly nourished beach.
The beach will be much wider just after construction, however, up to half of the visible beach is expected to equilibrate in the months following the end of a nourishment project.
Beach nourishment takes advantage of ocean currents and wave energy to move the placed sand off of the beach to form a gradual slope underwater. This slope is the ultimate goal of the project; it’s what causes wave energy to dissipate further offshore, protecting coastal infrastructure.
More Info On Outer Banks Beach Nourishment
Outer Banks Beach Nourishment Update Links
Learn more about beach nourishment on our blog.
For the most current information about beach nourishment in Dare County, visit MoreBeachtoLove.com. (Note: Corolla is part of Currituck County.)