The same Southern Shores beach as the one depicted yesterday, only this time the view is to the south and Hurricane Dorian has passed. After a storm, beaches need time to recover.

The Beacon would like to thank everyone who wrote to us in response to yesterday’s post. We greatly appreciate your comments, observations, suggestions, etc., and will share some of them at the end of this article.

First, though, we pass along information about the Town Council’s regular meeting Tuesday. Then we try to address some of the confusion and lack of information that surfaced at the Council’s Jan. 21 workshop when the discussion turned to beach-nourishment financing.

The Council’s Tuesday meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the Kern Pitts Center. Here is a link to the agenda and meeting packet:


“Consideration of a Potential Beach Nourishment Project” is the fourth item of four listed under “Old Business” on the agenda. The other three items concern appointments to the Capital Infrastructure Improvement Planning Committee; the recycling contract with Bay Disposal, which is no longer taking curbside recyclables to a recycling center; and “Consideration of Consulting Firm for Hiring a Manager.”

Whether “consideration” on the agenda means that the Council will make a decision on any issues is anyone’s guess. The Beacon certainly hopes that a majority will finally select a consultant to manage the hiring search for a new town manager, making a decision that is long overdue.


The upshot of the Jan. 21 workshop discussion on beach-nourishment financing appeared to be that the Council would not select and approve a project option until it has in hand a monetary sense of what new Council members Elizabeth Morey and Matt Neal both called the “pain” Southern Shores taxpayers will feel. They want to know how much taxes would have to increase to pay for APTIM’s recommended projects.

It does not seem to bother the Town Council, as it bothered members of the public, that it has never had a public discussion about the merits of various financing methods, only one of which involves defining multiple service districts and levying tax increases according to those districts.

As Sea Mark coastal engineer and geologist Spencer Rogers told me by telephone Friday: “Nationally, there are lots of ways to fund beach nourishment.” Consider, for example, that many people rent out rooms to vacationing beachgoers via Airbnb and VRBO, but they do not live near the oceanfront.

In Southern Shores, however, those other ways are not being considered. The “done deal” nature of the Council’s discourse Jan. 21 on MSDs was obvious.

The Council unanimously approved a motion to have its financial consultant, DEC Associates, Inc., of Charlotte, work with Town staff to prepare actual tax-rate increases for it to consider, according to whether the Town levies a tax increase town-wide or uses multiple service districts (MSDs) as a tax framework and a town-wide contribution to pay for beach nourishment.

Councilman Neal, who made the motion—which Mayor Pro Tem Morey seconded—set forth three tax assessment/MSD options that the Council would like DEC and Town staff to investigate and “price”:

1) A town-wide tax levy in which all property owners would pay the same amount for a beach nourishment project;

2) A tax-increase levy on property owners in an oceanfront MSD, with a contribution made by the Town’s General Fund revenues; and

3) A tax-increase levy on property owners in three MSDs—the oceanfront and two more districts heading west from the oceanfront—with a contribution by the Town.

Not surprisingly, this task initially rocked Doug Carter, the father in the father-son team that owns DEC Associates, because, as he explained, that is not what he does: “We take little part in defining MSDs,” he said. Of course not, that is a legal job.

It would have been helpful to have had Town Attorney Ben Gallop present at the workshop to fill in the many legal blanks that arose, but, because the Council lacks information, were not addressed. MSDs are a matter of N.C. statutory definition and process, not town discretion. (As The Beacon previously noted, property owners have the statutory right to petition to be excluded from an MSD.)

In support of Mr. Neal’s requests, Councilman Jim Conners described the Council as being presented with a “chicken-and-egg” dilemma. Until Council members know, as Mr. Conners said, “how much [beach nourishment] is going to cost on your tax bill,” an apparent majority of them do not want to move forward with selecting one of APTIM’s recommended options.

That apparent majority does not include Mayor Tom Bennett, who has long appeared ready to make a commitment to beach nourishment and did so again on Jan. 21.


On Oct. 1, 2019, a Town Council majority of three voted to approve spending $35,000 to hire DEC Associates, a beach-nourishment financial planner, to advise the Council about financing a project even though it had not yet committed to doing a project—and still has not. Rather than chicken-and-egg thinking, The Beacon views this as classic cart-before-the-horse planning.

As dissenting former Councilman Gary McDonald said at the meeting, and The Beacon reported 10/2/19: “We can come up with [the] scenarios” for financing, without a consultant’s assistance. It made no sense to him or former Councilman Fred Newberry to commit monies to a cart-before-the-horse contract with DEC Associates, which, according to Mr. Neal on Jan. 21, requires the consultant to do “MSD construction.”

But Mayor Bennett and Councilmen Jim Conners and Christopher Nason disagreed with Councilmen McDonald and Newberry. The three voted in favor of a $35,000 budget amendment that represented “half of the total amount due for financial planning from DEC Associates, Inc. for beach nourishment.” As is routine with budget amendments, the money came out of the town’s unassigned fund balance.

Not only are the scenarios or financing “modes” well known, as Mr. McDonald observed, they were presented by Doug Carter and his son, Andrew, at the Town Council’s Feb. 26, 2019 planning session.

You may access the Carters’ power-point presentation in the minutes of that meeting, at pp. 17-21: https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/wp-content/uploads/minutes-agendas-newsletters/Minutes_2019-02-26.pdf.

In explaining the reasoning behind this premature consulting contract, the Mayor said last October that DEC Associates would shed light on “how we finance this thing” and provide insightful “recommendations.” He also said that the hiring of the financial consultant would show Dare County that Southern Shores is “serious” about a nourishment project and about asking the county for funding.

If you heard the Carters’ presentations at both the Feb. 26, 2019 planning meeting and the Jan. 21 workshop, as The Beacon did, you experienced déjà vu. Much of what the Carters said two weeks ago was what they said nearly a year ago. Their new power-point presentation is duplicative, in part, of last year’s. For their latest, see https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/DEC-Carter_Presenation.pdf. (The figures provided for debt service reflect a 3 percent interest rate.)

In their latest presentation, they included a bottom-line number for what Doug Carter described as the Town’s “skin in the game”—a phrase that Dare County Manager Bobby Outten also uses—if the Council approves one of the nourishment project options recommended by APTIM and the county pays 50 percent of the costs. This number is $1,073,928 per year.

The problem with this calculation, which is short of what the Town would need to cover its share of the debt service, is that Mr. Outten informed the Town Council last November that the maximum contribution currently available from the Dare County Beach Nourishment Fund is $7.5 million. That the Carters did not know that the county is not guaranteeing 50 percent payment of project costs is disconcerting, to say the least.

The Beacon pointed this out in a blog on 1/21/20, in which we reprinted an article that we wrote 11/9/19 shortly after Mr. Outten spoke to the Town Council. Mr. Outten explained then that the county could not split costs 50-50 with the various towns that have done replenishment because its Beach Nourishment Fund did not have sufficient funds to do so.

More disconcerting to Council members—who were led by Councilman Neal—was that the Carters did not provide the data that they wanted and expected: to wit, suggested municipal service districts in Southern Shores and tax-rate increases on property owners, according to those municipal service districts.

The disconnect between the Town Council and the Carters, especially the elder, who is the firm’s primary spokesperson, was near-palpable. Doug Carter did his North Carolina folksy best (I say that affectionately) to clear the dense fog in the Pitts Center, but his face appeared pained when he finally said about the Council’s expectations: “We did not have that understanding.”

(That there was a gap in understanding accentuates for The Beacon the need for a permanent full-time town manager to run interference.)

We daresay that when Doug Carter told the Council, “MSDs will require some time and effort,” no one on the Council had any idea what he meant. They should ask Mr. Gallop about all of the statutorily imposed requirements.

In the power-point description that Mr. Carter gives of his “preferred method” of financing beach nourishment—through special obligation bonds and MSDs—he omits mention of the notice, reporting, and public hearings that are required by law if the Town drafts an ordinance defining MSDs and passes it.

This omission may have been intentional by the Carters so that these bonds appear more appealing to municipalities than the more familiar general obligation bonds, which Mr. Carter called “laborious” because a voter referendum is required.

When The Beacon asked former Councilman Christopher Nason at the Council’s meeting last October what he knew about general obligation bonds and other modes of financing, he honestly admitted that he knew nothing. This is not acceptable

In explaining to the Council that his firm does not define MSDs, Mr. Carter said, “We talk to you about how you blend your resources between MSDs and taxes at large. . . .” DEC is all about blending funds. MSDs are the Town’s business with its attorney.

Until now.

Interim Town Manager Wes Haskett told the Council that he and DEC would have the tax-rate increase data, according to Mr. Neal’s proposed MSDs, “as soon as possible,” which at the earliest is probably Feb. 18, the date of this month’s Council workshop.


One reader wrote to tell us that the Southern Shores Civic Assn. makes available to its members a PDF of Spencer Rogers’s book, “The Dune Book,” which he co-wrote with the late David Nash, who was an extension agent in coastal management in Brunswick and New Hanover counties. I meant to provide an Internet link yesterday. You may download the book here:

“The Dune Book” (pub. 2003): https://ncseagrant.ncsu.edu/ncseagrant_docs/products/2000s/dune_book.pdf.

The book is a fast read, but if you are short on time, I recommend that you spend your time reading chapter two about how the beach works.

To say that the beach is moving, changing, shifting, doing many dynamic activities all of the time, is to engage in layperson understatement. I defer to Mr. Rogers, who last year received one of N.C. State University’s Office of Research and Innovation’s prestigious Awards for Excellence. A member of the Sea Mark staff since 1978, Mr. Rogers is THE go-to person in the state for coastal construction and erosion knowledge along and about the North Carolina shoreline.

The very affable coastal engineer/geologist/erosion specialist gave a presentation about “How the Beach Works” at the January 2017 Southern Shores beach nourishment forum. The graphic portion of his talk is on the Town website at: https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Beach-Dunes-S-Shores.pdf. Take a look.

Another reader reminded me of how limited Duck’s 2017 beach nourishment project was. This is important to understand. The teetering houses that I mentioned yesterday are on Duck’s northern end, north of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Field Research Facility and far removed from the commercial village and nearby developments, which were more recently constructed.

(In the 1970s, Duck was little more than a church and a campground. There was no public road north of what is now the commercial district. I remember it well.)

Here is a map of Duck’s 2017 beach-nourishment project area: https://www.townofduck.com/beach-nourishment-project/beach-nourishment-project-area-map/.

According to the Town of Duck website, the project cost $14,057,929, of which Duck paid $6,963,000 through its General Fund and increased taxation on property owners in municipal service districts that it identified. The Dare County Beach Nourishment Fund paid the remaining $7,094,929. The debt-service cost to the town is $1,221,390 per year for five years.

In contrast, Kitty Hawk replenished its entire 4-mile shoreline, for the primary purpose, as Mr. Outten told the Town Council last November, of preventing storm-related ocean overwash in the streets between N.C. 12 and Hwy. 158. That project cost about $18.2 million. Kitty Hawk, too, used MSDs to finance its portion of the costs.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 2/2/20


The Southern Shores beach between Dolphin Run and Trout Run at 9:53 a.m. on Sept. 5, 2019, before Dorian arrived in town.

After Ken Willson presented APTIM’s latest report on potential beach nourishment in Southern Shores at the Town’s Council’s Jan. 21 workshop meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Morey asked a question that suggested a deeper level of study of APTIM’s analyses than previous Council members have shown. The newly elected Council member asked about Southern Shores’ shoreline history.

Mr. Willson, vice president of Aptim Coastal Planning and Engineering (APTIM), had shown images of the Southern Shores shoreline in 2008 and 2018. Ms. Morey asked if there was “imagery readily available that would give us an idea where the Southern Shores beach was in the seventies, eighties, and nineties, as opposed to in the 2000s.”

Is there any imagery dating back decades, Ms. Morey wondered, that would be “fairly easily” accessed “at low cost”?

In nearly two years of listening to Mr. Willson report to the Town Council—the first time in March 2018 about a 2017 baseline profile by APTIM of the town’s shoreline, then about APTIM’s December 2018 “vulnerability assessment” of the shoreline, in light of the town’s “beach management plan” goals, an update 17 months later of that study, and on Jan. 21 about the width of the beaches—The Beacon has never heard a Council member ask about Southern Shores’ history. It has been a major oversight.

Mr. Willson went from informing the Town Council after the 2017 profiling that “the shoreline is looking fairly stable” and there is “no big rush” to “jump” on beach nourishment to recommending “options” for sand replenishment along the entire Southern Shores shoreline that would cost in the neighborhood of $16 million.

At the Council’s recent workshop, Mr. Willson said that whether or not there is a “need” for beach nourishment in Southern Shores is a “discretionary decision by the Council.”

He also described APTIM’s analysis in support of nourishment as “subjective” and “discretionary.”

“A lot of it has to do with providing sufficient or acceptable level of storm damage reduction,” he explained. “How much [sand] volume do we need in the system to provide a specific level of storm damage reduction” in the event of a severe storm that may never occur?

The answer to Ms. Morey’s thoughtful question, to which Mr. Willson alluded, after first mentioning two other possible sources (one of them being U.S. Army Corps of Engineers data available just up the road at the Field Research Facility (FRF) in Duck), is yes: The N.C. Division of Coastal Management (DCM) has interactive maps accessible online that depict the location of the shoreline at various times, dating back to 1849.

Even more important, the DCM has online maps that document long-term average erosion rates that have been calculated and updated periodically along our beaches and offer a perspective dating back to 1940. The history exists! It is online!

Knowing the history of the Southern Shores shoreline enables today’s decision-makers to put the “risk” that Mr. Willson has identified into realistic perspective.


According to coastal engineer and geologist Spencer Rogers, who works with the exemplary research/education/outreach program, N.C. Sea Grant, in its Wilmington office, historical erosion rates provide a model for the future.

They are the “best indicator,” Mr. Rogers said in a telephone interview with The Beacon yesterday, of what will happen to a shoreline.

And yet, these rates have not been part of the conversation that Southern Shores has had during the past two years with APTIM. APTIM’s emphasis has been on erosion in the event of a severe storm, whose parameters (e.g., winds, wave action) it modeled after Isabel, the 2003 hurricane that, as Mr. Rogers noted, “pretty much petered out by the time it got to Kitty Hawk.”

As the highly regarded coastal specialist aptly pointed out, Southern Shores has not been directly hit by a severe storm since the Ash Wednesday storm of 1962, an Extreme Nor’easter that took out the old Sea Ranch Hotel at the current site of Pelican Watch, next to the Kitty Hawk Pier. Since this March 1962 event, no buildings in Southern Shores have been destroyed or threatened by erosion.

When Duck and Kitty Hawk did beach nourishment in 2017, houses in both towns were teetering at the ocean’s edge. Some in Kitty Hawk had already been lost. This has never been the case in Southern Shores.

While APTIM is advising the Town Council how to achieve “storm damage reduction protection” in the event of a monster hurricane, the reality is, as Mr. Rogers observed, that “storm patterns are pretty scattered” in the northern Outer Banks, in contrast to Hatteras Island and the southern Outer Banks.

Another reality—in addition to the town’s known 60-year history since the Ash Wednesday nor’easter—is that no hurricane of the magnitude of Katrina or Michael has ever hit Southern Shores.

(To read about the 1962 Ash Wednesday storm, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ash_Wednesday_Storm_of_1962.)

(For a “snapshot” of N.C. Sea Grant, see: https://ncseagrant.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/2017-18_snapshot_final.pdf)

(To learn about Spencer Rogers, see: https://ncseagrant.ncsu.edu/about-us/our-team/spencer-rogers/)

Mr. Rogers, who also serves on the faculty of UNC-W’s Center for Marine Science, was nice (and patient) enough to go through an interactive mapping exploration in Southern Shores with me. I will take you through the process later in this column and hope you will be inspired to do more of your own research.


As Mr. Rogers explains in his book, “The Dune Book,” there are four types of erosion: 1) seasonal erosion; 2) erosion caused by a severe storm; 3) long-term erosion; and 4) inlet erosion. Beach nourishment projects are designed to address #2, an “extreme storm event” and/or #3, “chronic day-to-day losses,” he said.

Fortunately, we do not have to contend with inlet erosion. Shorelines adjacent to inlets—such as Topsail Beach—experience hazards that shorelines along oceanfront do not.

One such shoreline is along Ocean Isle Beach, which is between Holden and Sunset beaches near the North Carolina-South Carolina line. Beach nourishment done there 20 years ago by the Corps of Engineers “disappeared in a couple of months,” Mr. Rogers said. The town and Corps had to go back to the drawing board.

To compare the Southern Shores’ shoreline with a shoreline where an inlet is the major driver of erosion, as some local property owners have done, is to make the proverbial apples-to-oranges comparison. There are no inlets off of our coast.

(Mr. Rogers also noted that Dare County’s nourishment of unincorporated Buxton and Rodanthe, which had high LT erosion rates, “disappeared very quickly,” too.)

Seasonal erosion occurs because of a variation in wind and wave energy.

As the Sea Mark coastal specialist explained: “The beach oscillates in width from season-to-season and from year-to-year.” During the summer, he noted, sand moves north, so Southern Shores should benefit from Kitty Hawk’s 2017 nourishment project.

The beach is at its widest in late July and early August, according to retired longtime USACE Field Research Facility coastal engineer and former Southern Shores homeowner Bill Birkemeir, who also spoke with me by telephone last week. (To calculate beach widths recently, APTIM used measurements from May, not from the summer.)

In the “seasonal cycle,” Mr. Birkemeier said, the beach is “narrow and steep in winter” and “comes back in the summer.” Passing hurricanes and other storms push the sand off-shore, but it returns. “It’s really simple,” he noted, and very important to understand.

When Mr. Willson attempted to update in September 2019 what he called erosional and accretional “trends” in Southern Shores on the basis of data obtained between December 2017 and May 2019, oceanographers from the Field Research Facility challenged his conclusions.

As The Beacon reported 9/20/19, Dr. Katherine L. Brodie and Dr. Nicholas Cohn, both of whom live in Southern Shores, told the Town Council at its Sept. 19 planning session that APTIM’s conclusions were “based on limited data” and “on short-term trends that are not particularly helpful.”

“It is very challenging to understand what’s really happening to our coastline,” said Dr. Brodie, who characterized the Southern Shores dune system and shoreline as being “stable” over time. (“It is very difficult to eyeball the shoreline,” said Mr. Rogers, who has a master’s degree in coastal and oceanographic engineering from the University of Florida. There are “radical changes” going on that the eye cannot detect.)

Dr. Brodie also told the Town Council that “there is lots of seasonal variability” in erosion (loss) and accretion (gain) of beaches. The time to measure beach erosion is not in the winter, as APTIM had done.

Both Dr. Brodie and Dr. Cohn offered their professional expertise to the Town Council in helping it to make an informed and educated decision about beach nourishment. But the majority did not accept their offer.

Because Southern Shores has not been annually profiling its shoreline, we do not have what Mr. Birkemeier called “built-up knowledge” to evaluate short-term data. Some of us thought that APTIM’s 2017 profile would be the first in a series of annual surveys to keep track of the shoreline. But it did not take long for Mr. Willson to shift into recommendations for beach nourishment, with encouragement from the Town.


According to its website, the N.C. Division of Coastal Management evaluates long-term average erosion rates for North Carolina’s 300-mile ocean coastline every five years. It updates these rates by obtaining new aerial photographs of the shoreline to add to its database and running the data through computer programs that yield “thousands of numbers.” It started this effort in 1979, using photographs that date back to 1940.

In a January 2019 report about the methods it used to update LT average erosion rates in 2016, the DCM reported that 88 percent of the Southern Shores shoreline had measured erosion, while the remaining 11 percent had measured accretion. The DCM calculated the average LT erosion rate for our beaches to be 0.5 feet per year.

This does not mean that every year part of the Southern Shores shoreline is losing six inches of width while another part is gaining sand.

The DCM explains the calculation by comparing a 1992 shoreline with a 1942 shoreline. To derive the long-term average erosion (or accretion) rate, you would divide the distance that the shoreline has moved by 50, which represents the 50-year time period. If it has eroded 100 feet, you have a long-term average erosion rate of 2 feet per year, 100 divided by 50.

According to Mr. Rogers, the median long-term average erosion rate for North Carolina shorelines is currently one foot per year, a figure that he said is driven by sea-level rise.


Let’s do some long-term erosion-rate research of the Southern Shores shoreline. We will start on a DCM page called “Oceanfront Shorelines and Setback: Interactive Mapping,” which you can access at https://deq.nc.gov/about/divisions/coastal-management/coastal-management-data/shorelines-setback-interactive-mapping.

*Once you are there, click on “skip intro” at the top. A map of North Carolina should appear on your screen. When it does, type “Southern Shores” into the location box and click the search key.

*You now should be looking at a map of the Southern Shores area that shows the Currituck County mainland, the Wright Memorial Bridge, and U.S. Hwy. 158 into Southern Shores, as well as some of the main streets in the southern part of town, including South Dogwood Trail and Ocean Boulevard.

*In a column to the left of the map, you should see some icons, including what looks like a stack of papers, second from the top. This is the “layers list.” Click on it.

*Eliminate the checkmark in the box next to “DCM Office Locations” by clicking on it, then scroll down. What you seek are “Erosion Rates—2019 (oceanfront)—pending adoption,” and, for comparison purposes, “Erosion Rates—2013 (oceanfront)” and “Erosion Rates—2004 (oceanfront). You and Mayor Pro Tem Morey also will want to look at “Shorelines: Oceanfront and Inlet,” which is the fourth choice beneath the 2004 Erosion Rates.

*Check “Erosion Rates—2019 (oceanfront) and type in your location box, next to Southern Shores, a street name, such as Mullet Circle, which is the example that Mr. Rogers used with me.

*You now should see a street map, depicting Mullet Circle, east of Ocean Boulevard; Pompano Court will be to the north, and Dolphin Run to the south.

*Move your cursor out to the shoreline and click on one of the red lines you see. Red denotes erosion; green denotes accretion. The LT average erosion rate for the Southern Shores beach at Mullet Circle is 0.7 feet/year. This rate was determined over a 76-year period, from 1940 to 2016.

*Let’s look at another section of the Southern Shores shoreline. Type in “Seventh Avenue” next to Southern Shores in the location box and click.

*When you get to the map of the shoreline at Seventh Avenue, you should see small green lines at the oceanfront. Click on one of these. You will learn that the DCM has calculated a long-term average accretion rate of 0.2 feet/year over the same 76-year period at the Seventh Avenue oceanfront.

If you move to the beach at Chicahauk Trail, you will learn that a number of spots along the Southern Shores shoreline between Chicahauk Trail and Skyline Road have LT average accretion rates of 0.1 to 0.2 feet/year. There is long-term accretion on the oceanfront at Third Avenue and Hickory Trail, too.

In my interactive mapping explorations, I discovered that the only areas of the Southern Shores shoreline that have LT average erosion rates above the state median rate of 1.0 ft./yr. are a section around Trout Run, south to Yellowfin, and the southern part of the beach, from Ocean View Loop to the Kitty Hawk line. These erosion rates are generally 1.0 ft./yr. to 1.1 ft./yr. The 2017 nourishment at Pelican Watch should have made a difference at the southern end.

The time period covered by the 2013 rates is 1940-2009; and for the 2003 rates, it is 1949-1998. Please check them out.

If you and Ms. Morey click on “Shorelines: Oceanfront & Inlet” box in the layers list, you will see how the shoreline has shifted. In 1849, it is out in the ocean. As Mr. Rogers explained, the 1849 shoreline is based on a “coastal geodetic survey” and is not entirely reliable. It was President Thomas Jefferson who initiated the idea of surveying the coast in order to ensure safe navigation and stimulate international trade.

In addition to the 1949 shoreline representation, the DCM map shows shoreline positions from 1940, 1998, 2002, 2004, 2009, 2012, and 2016. Of interest is the 2002 shoreline, which is considerably west of all of the others—a testament to the changing dynamics of the coastal environment. The shoreline subsequently “corrected” itself.


When asked how he would evaluate the Southern Shores beach-nourishment decision if he were a member of the Town Council, Mr. Rogers said he would look at:

  • the long-term erosion rates;
  • the benefits and costs; and
  • how the town can pay for it

It would be a “personal” decision, he said.

The Town Council has not considered erosion rates, because APTIM did not, nor has it done a cost-benefit analysis. No one has talked about how the town, which has few commercial properties, financially benefits from beach nourishment, except in terms of the relatively small amount that it receives as its share of the Dare County occupancy taxes. We suppose Southern Shores theoretically could become a ghost town, but neither its shoreline nor its tourist economy is in crisis.

Despite a report by a Seventh Avenue homeowner that he talked with tourists who said they will go elsewhere because the beach there has substantially deteriorated, that anecdote illustrates a very rare exception. Rental companies can tell the Town Council that they are not hearing that complaint. I can tell the Council that after 50 years of seasonal rentals in my family’s quaint 1970s-era oceanfront beach box, business remains robust. We rent out—and we are just north of Trout Run!

During the two years that I have been attending presentations by Mr. Willson—and also at the January 2017 beach nourishment conference, in which Mr. Rogers participated as a guest expert—I have never heard a rental-property owner outside of Pelican Watch complain about losing income because of poor beach conditions.

There is no reason, however, to treat the north end of the Southern Shores shoreline, where Seventh Avenue is, the same as the center of the shoreline or anywhere else along what the DCM says is a 4.5-mile shoreline.

“You don’t have to put sand everywhere,” Mr. Rogers said, in addressing the perceived “need” for beach nourishment, “or put the same amount everywhere.”

(Indeed, property owners may petition to be excluded from a municipal service district because they do not benefit. That is a subject for tomorrow’s post.)

You can distinguish among different sections of the beach, but first, The Beacon believes, you should know your beach. Both Mr. Rogers and Mr. Birkemeier recommend annual surveys. We do not know where the sand on our beaches is and where it goes. We need to start keeping track.

“It helps a lot to understand what your beach is doing,” Mr. Rogers said, “and to design a project [to suit your beach] when you do” decide nourishment is warranted.

Everyone on the Town Council should be familiar with the easy-to-access, no-cost data provided by the DCM. Everyone should know the erosion-rate history of Southern Shores’ beaches. Everyone should view the shoreline as more than just a series of modern-day snapshots.

The Town Council needs to get behind annual profiling now . . . and to keep asking thoughtful questions . . . of thoughtful and experienced professionals who will answer them thoroughly and without bias.

Spencer Rogers would be happy to come to Southern Shores for a public meeting, and the invitation from the FRF oceanographers is probably still open. Time is on our side.


Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 2/1/20