Carolina Beach dune-rebuilding event sees record turnout, eyes Kure Beach for 2018

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‘We helped protect about a mile of coastline today,’ said Ethan Crouch, chairman of the Cape Fear Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. (Photo by Benjamin Schachtman)

CAROLINA BEACH – The Cape Fear Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation was out at Carolina Beach for its fourth annual dune-reinforcement project this weekend.

The event brought over 120 people to the north end of the beach to help reinforce the area’s deteriorated dune-system. Members of the Surfrider Foundation and community volunteers anchored used Christmas trees on the what little remained of the dunes.

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Surfrider members and local volunteers buried over 80 trees along the ravished dune system, which once extended 30-40 feet across the beach. (Photo by Benjamin Schachtman)

“Within three months they’ll be pretty well in there, after six months they’re buried,” said Ethan Crouch, chair of the Cape Fear Surfrider group. “A year from now they’ll be considerable dune growth over them, you won’t be able to see them.”

This year’s event was finished in less than an hour, but buried more trees than last year. Kevin Piacenza, a member of the Surfrider board, said the commitment of Carolina Beach and local volunteers was to thank.

“We had at least 120 people today, definitely a record turnout,” Piacenza said. “We were done in about half an hour, almost twice as fast as last year.”

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‘We saw a lot more families this year,’ Piacenza said ‘father and son teams, so that was great to see.’ (Photo by Benjamin Schachtman)

Piancenza said the town of Carolina Beach – which provided collection services for used Christmas trees – was involved in the site selection, part of their ongoing support of the Surfrider program.

“The town  provided some input on where we could do the most good. But all around, they’ve been very involved, and very committed, since the beginning, for four years now,” he said.

Piacenza said this year’s location was chosen in part to counteract damage caused by the rock wall at the northern end of Carolina Beach. The wall, which Piacenza says he believes dates back to the 1970s, does more harm than good.

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The north end of Carolina beach, with this year’s trees on the left and the beginning of the rock wall on the right. ‘The rock wall predates some of these properties,’  Crouch said. (Photo by Benjamin Schachtman)

Contrary to popular belief, it is not hurricanes that do the most damage but Nor’easters. Piacenza said, “a hurricane blows in and blows out, but Nor’easters can sit off shore for days, and all that tidal energy has, over the years, eroded 30 – even 40 – feet of dunes that used to be here.”

Crouch explained further, “it shifts the flow of wind and water, but especially during storms. When water is driven up the beach and it strikes the rocks, they absorb nothing, they just shift the water’s force south. That’s led to the erosion, and right now you can see spots where there’s literally nothing between the ocean and property.”

Crouch said this year’s effort reinforced nearly a mile of coastline. Crouch said that while he was “stoked about this year’s turnout,” the group was already thinking about next year.

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Crouch estimates at least 120 people showed up for this year’s event. (Photo by Benjamin Schachtman)

“We had our best turnout this year, and next year we’d like to help out in Kure Beach town. Councilman Whitley is very interested in getting involved,” Crouch said, gesturing to Kure Beach Commissioner Joseph Whitely, who was on hand to help out with the project. “If we have the same kind of response as we did this year – we’ll likely be down there, too.”

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Some more minor forms of beach-erosion were tolerated during the event. (Photo by Benjamin Schachtman)