Army Corps’ permit for Ocean Isle Beach terminal groin challenged

SELC, on behalf of Audubon North Carolina, today challenged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ approval of a terminal groin for Ocean Isle Beach because it failed to fairly consider other available options that would be less costly to residents of Ocean Isle and less destructive to the coast.

Filed in the United States Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, the lawsuit claims that the Corps unlawfully overlooked a beach nourishment alternative that is cheaper for the town, would adequately protect vulnerable properties, and maintain wildlife habitat on the east end of Ocean Isle.

The proposed terminal groin would be particularly devastating to the undeveloped, unspoiled refuge on the island’s east end.  This unique area has long been a haven for boaters, families and wildlife alike – each drawn by the peace and tranquility offered by this undeveloped area of shoreline. It also offers a special place where birds can eat, rest, and nest.

“We’re in court because the Corps failed to fairly consider alternatives that cost Ocean Isle taxpayers less, manage erosion, and protect the undeveloped beach on the east end of the island when it approved this destructive project,” said Senior Attorney Geoff Gisler.  “Federal law requires the Corps to choose the least destructive alternative; with the terminal groin, it approved the most destructive.”

Terminal groins, which are rock walls built across the beach into the ocean, were prohibited on North Carolina’s coast for more than 30 years because they unnaturally trap sand in one location—robbing nearby beaches of sand and increasing erosion elsewhere. The terminal groin proposed for Ocean Isle Beach would be no different, an expensive, destructive investment with little overall benefit to the town and surrounding communities.

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