CARTERET COUNTY - The Wilmington District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has drafted a plan that would put dredged material from the Beaufort Inlet onto Shackleford Banks. It's part of the Morehead City Harbor Integrated Dredged Material Management Plan.
For the last 30 years dredging material has been disposed of on the Bogue Banks area.
Mayor Trace Cooper of Atlantic Beach said this new plan would take at least half of dredged material from the Beaufort Inlet and deposit it onto Shackleford Banks.
"It's diverting sand that would otherwise go to our beaches and allow places for tourists to visit and protect the houses here," Mayor Cooper said.
Shackleford Banks is a national park and home to wild horses. According to the Carteret Coalition to Protect Our Shores, the dredging deposits could potentially affect the environment and fisheries of Shackleford Banks.
The mayor of Atlantic Beach said the sand is vital for the Bogue Banks area for protection from storms and the nourishment of its beaches.
"It's a huge deal. If you look at Hurricane Sandy in the northeast compared to the towns that had wide beaches, it's night and day," Cooper said.
"If a storm hit the Bogue Banks area and there is enough beach erosion, over time that could mean a levy on local taxes in order to nourish the beaches," Cooper said.
The US Army Corps Engineers Wilmington District said the dredging material management plan that has been developed does not require placement on Shackleford Banks. They said it's only an option, and that the National Parks Services "may choose to consider protecting the integrity of the island."
According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in 1967 and 1990 the National Parks Service declined having sand placed on Shackleford Banks.
A public information meeting will be held in the auditorium of the Duke Marine Lab on Pivers Island on January 15 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.