Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Nature Notes: Coastal North Carolina

This week my nature notes will be about coastal North Carolina since I was recently at Atlantic Beach, NC and took a ton of photos.
nature notes gold aIMG_2192
Atlantic Beach is on the Bogue Banks and is a barrier island bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Bogue Sound.
nature notes dunaIMG_2012
I was so happy to see how well the dunes were doing with lush sea oats and other grasses in the best shape I've seen them.
nature notes aIMG_2122
The beach has gone through a number of stages in my lifetime. I can't remember how long ago it was that the waves were lapping on the sea wall and major nourishment began at Atlantic Beach, NC.
nature notes dn aIMG_2010
I think replanting native grasses and keeping foot traffic off most of the dunes is great but I have very mixed feelings about the way my state invested huge sums of money in hauling huge quantities of sand to basically try to push the ocean back.
nature note aIMG_2135
I don't remember exactly when the last major fill in of sand was done on this beach. It may have been as much as 20 years ago but the ocean has already begun to take back a lot of the ground.
nature notes gr aIMG_2050
Part of what bothers me is that my state hasn't always been sensible, to my way of thinking, in terms of development on the fragile coast. Very little of the maritime forest which used to protect parts of the island has remained.
nature notes dv aIMG_2037
We do have some great state parks on the coast but there are areas in the 1990s when I thought we should have known better that additional development was allowed. I think in particular of Topsail Island where an area which had been a major breeding ground for birds (the tip of the island where the sound and ocean meet) was developed with more condominiums and cottages.
nature notes dn IMG_2013
Topsail was already developed for many decades but that one particular area had been left for the birds. When the newer development occurred, predictably many new cottages ended up in the ocean after a hurricane and new roads on the part of the island which never should have been developed were covered with sand and debris.
nature notes group s aIMG_1999
My state then began an expensive clean up and cottages were rebuilt which seems so illogical to me. I've veered away from Atlantic Beach to talk about Topsail but what they did at Atlantic beach involved a major protection of established cottages by hauling enormous amounts of sand. Note- this is a quick and dirty non scientific discussion but I'll make up for that with links to better heads than mine.
nature notes form s aIMG_2004
There is a good discussion of beach nourishment on the NOAA Site and you can click here for that. Basically the point is made that there is no reason for beach nourishment in terms of putting sediment on an eroding shoreline beyond political and economic reasons. I recommend that article.
nature notes segbch aIMG_2127
The problem I have is when we continue to have new development on the fragile shores. I can see the argument for some protection of existing buildings as long as we decide our state (meaning my state of NC) has already reached the point where we have to consider what we are losing with further development.
nature notes aIMG_2255
I also think if we decide to stop developing our shoreline to the point of ruining it, the commitment to public access to the beach must continue as a priority. It certainly wouldn't make any sense to spend state funds on protecting the cottages for the few without giving beach access to the rest of the taxpayers. Frankly though my feeling is when a cottage ends up in the ocean, it's idiotic at that point to allow rebuilding in the same spot although I understand that it's complicated. Then again it would be simple if we let the buildings a block in from the beach front become the new beach front.
nature notes aIMG_2232
On a positive note, there are some good programs which help the shoreline in positive ways. The NCCF has a Habitat restoration and education program which I think does good work. You can click this link for information.
nature notes IMG_2282
We had great weather at the beach. It was windy but there was only one early evening storm. However, somehow it makes sense to end with the one major dark cloud since this has been a somewhat dark post. Click here for the home of Nature Notes which is officially a Thursday theme. As usual I am early. I guess another point I should make is so far the oil spill hasn't reached the Atlantic but it's of course horrible what is happening in the Gulf.


Caron said...

Your photos make me want to run to NC for vacation right this moment. That storm looks so neat. I love to see storms come in.

NicoleB, Kuwait said...

Humans will never make sense to me.
First they destroy, then they try to fix & repair and protect what doesn't belong there.
Insanity rules.
Oh well.

The beach still does look gorgeous & sometimes one just wants to switch the button in ones brain and simply enjoy,.... *sigh*

MaR said...

Such lovely beach shots, Carver!! and very much food for thought too.
The scenery looks so peaceful and intact...

Ayie said...

i miss the beach so much!

Unknown said...

A great variety of weather. I can hear the sound of the beach and the birds. very nice!

join me on the Path to the Summit

ancient one said...

You have so many beautiful shots of Atlantic Beach. Those bird shots really are nice.

Rambling Woods said...

This is a really great post. Not living near the coast, I haven't considered any of this and found it very interesting information and I am going to explore the links which you so nicely prepared...lovely photos too. I love the beach and don't get to any beach often enough.. Michelle

Gel said...

Hi- I learned a lot from your post and it is disheartening. Hopefully, positive action will be taken instead of what has been.

The beach shots are gorgeous. Love the ones with the surf in the background to the gull and those clouds later. There's something mesmerizing about the majestic ocean.

Squirrel said...

Wonderful photos!