Study finds Currituck beaches most in need of future nourishment are from north ramp to Ocean Sands

Study finds Currituck beaches most in need of future nourishment are from north ramp to Ocean Sands

February 15th, 2023

A study by the same engineering firm that has consulted Dare County and its towns on beach nourishment projects says much of Currituck County’s 22 miles of beaches are faring well, but has identified a stretch that will likely need widening within the next 30 years.

And the Currituck County Board of Commissioners has pledged to mirror their neighbors to the south on a funding apparatus for future projects and not charge mainland property owners to help pay for it.

“For many years, Currituck County has taken steps to protect the beaches and coastline,” according to the news release. “Steps include local laws protecting dune structures, traffic regulations on the 4WD beach, limiting the number of vehicles allowed on the four-wheel-drive beach in the peak tourist season, storm mitigation and recovery practices, and a dune vegetation and sand fencing grant program available to property owners.”

According to a news release, the results of a three-year-long Shoreline Stability Study by Ken Willson of Coastal Protection Engineering of North Carolina, Inc. were presented at the commissioners’ retreat on February 3.

The study assessed the short-term shoreline and volumetric changes to the county’s shoreline from 2020 to 2022, provided long-term projections over 10-, 20-, and 30-year periods and a vulnerability analysis of existing structures located along the oceanfront.

The county said highlights of the final report include predictions of no significant impacts in the Carova, Reserve/Refuge or Pine Island sections based on projected shoreline change rates over a 30-year period.

The section with the greatest number of projected impacts to structures over the next 30 years is off the Corolla section, which is designated from the four-wheel-drive beach access point north of the village to the Ocean Lake community in Ocean Sands.

The study divided the Currituck County beaches into four sections as part of summarizing the findings. [courtesy Currituck County]
The study also assessed the volumetric changes of sand from the dune line to a minimum depth of 6-feet under water.

Some areas experienced gains in sand volume, including Carova, Reserve/Wildlife Refuge, and Corolla. However, the section at Pine Island experienced a loss in volume.

According to Wednesday’s news release, the county will continue to monitor the beach profile, particularly in areas of high projected impacts to structures and sections that experienced a loss in volumetric change; and develop a Beach Management Plan, which may include options for beach nourishment projects in certain areas.

Commissioners also promised that any potential beach nourishment projects would be funded by occupancy tax, federal or state grants, or a possible service district tax for owners of property in Corolla and the four-wheel-drive area.

“The beaches and coastal areas are important to Currituck County’s heritage, environment, tourism industry, and quality of life for residents,” according to the statement. “The Board of Commissioners is committed to protecting the coastline and ensuring healthy beaches.”

More details and results of the study can be found at

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