Wrightsville Beach renourishment project uncovers hundreds of thousands of tires in the ocean
Posted August 2, 2022 7:47 p.m. EDT Updated August 2, 2022 11:21 p.m. EDT
By Liz McLaughlin, WRAL Climate Change Reporter
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Wrightsville Beach, N.C. — The shrinking shoreline at Wrightsville Beach is in desperate need of sand.
“We can’t get our ocean rescue vehicles from point A to point B in some places, because there’s just not enough beach,” Mayor Darryl Mills said.
Rebuilding that usually happens every three years is behind schedule. Officials said they have faced numerous challenges since the beach was last filled with fresh sand in 2018.
Wrightsville Beach has sourced its sand from nearby Masonboro Inlet since the 1960s, but a new interpretation of the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA), dictates that no federal dollars can be used to move sand from a CBRA-protected zone (Masonboro Inlet) to a non-CBRA zone (Wrightsville Beach). Wrightsville Beach’s renourishment is 100% federally-funded, according to local records.
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The Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) said it placed more than 600,000 tires off the North Carolina coast in the 1970s and early 1980s, but said it discontinued the practice in 1983.
“We don’t know the exact number of tires that were deployed back then,” said Patricia Smith, the Communications Director for the NC Division of Marine Fisheries. “Basically, the Division just doesn’t have reliable deployment records from that period.”
The artificial reef closest to the potential sand harvest location for Wrightsville Beach is called the Meares Harris Reef, located about 2.5 miles offshore and spanning 649 acres. That site includes other artificial reefs made of concrete pipes and tugboats that serve as fish habitats, but the aging tires are proving to be problematic.
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I guess the artificial reef project wasn’t well thought out. And the Gooferment only has itself to blame. Of course, the Taxpayers pay for the mistake.