Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations

Large sand volume barrier islands · By Dirk Frankenberg

Multifamily housing behind a large Fran-eroded dune

Figure 15. This dune was badly eroded by Hurricane Fran in 1996. (Photograph by the author. More about the photograph)

Figure 15 shows the seaward dune on Bogue Banks in the aftermath of Hurricane Fran and the winter storms of 1998. As we saw on Bear Island, there is no level of sand volume or vegetation coverage sufficient to render seaward dunes immune from storm erosion. This dune has been made into a sand cliff. In most cases, natural processes of dune restoration, such as those seen on Bear Island in Figure 11, will eventually bring back enough sand to reestablish a sloping dune face. It is not clear, however, that the owners of apartment units in the buildings in the background will have the patience for nature to take its course!

In the summer of 1999, there was much talk about developing political support for public financing of a beach nourishment project here to “repair the damage” done by the “natural disasters” of the hurricanes. Unsurprisingly, this talk escalated after Hurricanes Dennis and Floyd. The public beach remains ready for use between low and high tide levels, but the private land above high tide has been severely eroded. How society will deal with this dichotomy is still being worked out.

Definitions

dune restoration n.
The restoration of a natural or artificially constructed dune through the addition of sand and planting of native dune vegetation.
dichotomy n.
Division into two usually contradictory parts or opinions.