New eco-friendly method being used to build dunes at Ocean Isle Beach
OCEAN ISLE BEACH, N.C. (WECT) - Ocean Isle Beach is testing out a new, eco-friendly way to fight against beach erosion and to protect homes.
Traditionally, sand fences have been to help create dunes.
A few weeks ago, bales of hay were approved to be purchased to help trap sand and build up the dunes, which then keeps the water from flooding the streets and damaging properties. In addition to the bales of hay, vegetation has been planted on the dunes over the last year to help with this effort.
People often forget that the water and sewer lines underground can be severely damaged in storms. Repairs to these lines can be costly, which is another important reason to build-up the sand on beaches.
The town has agreed to keep tabs on the project to determine if they are effective at trapping sand and facilitating the creation of dunes. They are to report back to the N.C. Division of Coastal Management on the effectiveness.
Issues with availability, which have been seen since the pandemic, are one reason why the town is looking for alternative options.
“We’re having trouble getting sand fences, it’s just not available in the quantities that we need it,” explained Ocean Isle Mayor Debbie Smith. “If it is damaged during the storm, it floats and goes down the beach, which then we have to pick up fence and wire. So we just received a permit to do bales of hay, which will disintegrate over time.”
The sand fences that you typically see on a beach are made from wood planks and wire. A strong storm can wash some of it to sea, causing problems for wildlife and those trying to protect the sand.
It’s also quite the pickup process after a storm rolls through. Bales of hay disintegrate over time which is why it won’t harm anything if washed away.
On the east end of the island, there are currently giant sandbags that will soon be covered in sand to create a dune wall. The lack of protection along this portion of the beach has been putting houses and underground utilities at risk.
“Figure Eight in North Wilmington did it a couple of years ago, they did it with pine straw bales and it worked very well. They get washed away pretty soon, but they had no cleanup when it washed away. But it did start building even though it didn’t stay there very long,” said Mayor Smith.
You won’t see the bales of hay on the beaches yet, but in the coming weeks, they should begin being placed at six different spots on the east end of the island.
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