Currituck appeals to Trump administration to allow dredging

By on March 27, 2018

The Whalehead Club basin is great for family fishing but there is no access by boat from the Currituck Sound. (Dee Langston)

For decades, Currituck officials have tried to get permission to dredge a channel connecting the Currituck Sound to the boat basin in front of the historic Whalehead Club in Corolla.

The answer, from the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has been “no, no, no.”

Most recently, the answer was “a rather loud door slam,” County Manager Dan Scanlon said in an email, referring to a February meeting with the permitting agencies.

Undaunted, the county’s current board of commissioners is trying again to get the necessary permits. This time, three of them went straight to the top.

Currituck commissioners Paul Beaumont, Marion Gilbert and Mike Payment traveled to Washington earlier this month, and while they were there, made a pitch for the federal government’s help with obtaining the permits.

The Army Corps of Engineers permitted the county to deepen the boat basin at the Whalehead Club, Beaumont said during the March 19 commissioners’ meeting. “That’s a great feature for the county, but there’s only one small problem: you can’t get boats into the boat basin,” he said.

“We’d exhausted working through the Army Corps of Engineers out of Wilmington, so we used (the Washington meeting) as an opportunity to make an end-around and go directly to the presidential administration,” Beaumont said.

The trip was organized by the National Association of Counties, or NACo, which invited county commissioners to come to the White House to meet with the Intergovernmental Affairs Office of President Trump’s administration.

Prior to meeting with administration officials, representatives from NACo coached commissioners to let the federal administration know about issues that affect their counties.

The group then met with Billy Kirkland, special assistant to the president and deputy director of Intergovernmental Affairs at The White House, along with other government officials.

“We spent about four hours in briefings with members of Trump’s administration,” Beaumont said.

“They asked for questions, and boy we gave them to them. We used that opportunity to bring a bunch of issues forward,” Beaumont said. One of those issues was the channel.

“I remain guardedly optimistic that we might actually get some traction,” Beaumont said.

The county has sought permits to connect the sound to a deepened boat basin numerous times, starting in 1996, but each time, the request has been denied.

Most recently, county staff participated in a pre-scoping meeting for the channel in Washington, N.C. Feb. 20, County Manager Dan Scanlon said in an email.

A pre-scoping meeting allows applicants to meet with the various state and federal agencies to discuss and review the applicants’ intent of submitting an application, before an application is actually submitted, Scanlon explained.

Quible & Associates, a member of the county’s team, expanded on the county’s previous application and offered additional mitigation ideas during the pre-scoping meeting, Scanlon said in the email.

In the past, the Division of Coastal Management has rejected the proposed project because of potential damage to aquatic plants, adversely impacting the fish and other marine animals that feed on them.

During the February meeting, coastal management representatives emphatically stated that they did not believe the county had the opportunity to even submit an application for their consideration, Scanlon said in the email.

The Army Corps of Engineers representative read a statement saying that the county has previously been denied the application, and should not anticipate the position has changed, Scanlon said.

“It was a rather loud door slam,” he added.

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  • Bob

    “In the past, the Division of Coastal Management has rejected the proposed project because of potential damage to aquatic plants, adversely impacting the fish and other marine animals that feed on them.”

    So why is it a problem here, but not when it comes to building the new “jug handle” bridge? Or worse yet, a proposed 17 mile bridge to bypass all of pea island? Can someone please explain this to me?

    Tuesday, Mar 27 @ 9:03 am
  • Bob Segal

    The article does not address what I remember some years ago that the County did illegal dredging without any permission outside the Club and tore up the Sound.
    I believe this is governmental payback by regulators who remember the County’s sticking a finger in the Corp’s eye.

    Tuesday, Mar 27 @ 1:06 pm
  • sortudo

    What size boats would be able to travel in this part of the sound?

    Odds of passing through?

    Tuesday, Mar 27 @ 2:01 pm
  • Spoony Rae

    I don’t believe the County had anything to do with the dredging incident, it was done by the state DOT in an effort to institute a passenger ferry to transport school children across the sound for school. If I remember correctly some DOT officials went to prison for the dredging.

    Tuesday, Mar 27 @ 3:59 pm
  • Seal

    @cha Bob
    Apparently the problem Bob is that you dont understand that that all of the above ‘”The 17 mile bridge, the Jug handle and the Currituck canal all have one thing in common and there is no difference ! Because all proposals have been turned down, and as we say down south “It aint happening” !!!

    Tuesday, Mar 27 @ 4:36 pm
  • Mike

    People should wake up about all this “regulation “ CAMA and the USACOE make tax payers go through to obtain permission for small or large projects. Political appointees and special interests have sunk their claws into this “public water trust” non sense. This has always been pay to play politics. I shouldn’t have to get permission to use my own land. Absolutely ridiculous. These organizations want total control of waterways and waterfront properties. I hope republicans and democrats dismantle this broken machine. Ask the citizens of Louisiana , Arkansas and Mississippi how trust worthy the Army Corps is…

    Tuesday, Mar 27 @ 5:26 pm
  • Seal

    DITTO !!!!

    Tuesday, Mar 27 @ 6:33 pm
  • Dee Langston

    Spoony Rae, Bob Segal,
    I checked with Currituck County Manager Dan Scanlon regarding the illegal dredging, and this was his response:

    “It was not the County. NC DOT was charged with illegally kicking the channel and under a federal ruling they were required to remediate the impacts of their activities. This was mentioned as a secondary concern by the ACOE (Army Corps of Engineers). However their primary concerns rest with SAVs (sub-aquatic vegetation) and essential fish habitat.”

    Thanks for pointing this out.
    Dee Langston

    Tuesday, Mar 27 @ 7:27 pm
  • Again

    Living in Currituck over 25 years, the BOC does not have a good track record with ideas and development projects that consider long term impacts.
    Does BOC have the “science” to support their request.

    And other than an eye toward $$$ why do they want to bring boats (gas, fumes, litter) into one of the few remaining peaceful habitats in the county?

    Wednesday, Mar 28 @ 9:02 am
  • Bob

    Seal – From what I’m seeing, the jug handle bridge has been approved and they are moving forward. The environmentalists are the ones pushing for the 17 mile bridge. No, it hasn’t been approved, that’s not my point. I’m just asking how a minor bit of dredging is not allowable, but messing with miles of habitat is just fine…

    Wednesday, Mar 28 @ 9:42 am
  • Seal

    @ Bob
    Just got confirmation from DOT the southern end of the new Bonner bridge has already been completed, and the entire project is at 70% completed to stop and implement the “Jug Handle” would require almost half of the southern end of the bridges demolition ! “It aint happening”.
    And to dredge a channel and to perform annual dredging to maintain it VS anchoring piers on a one time basis has a minimal impact that once its built allows for the full recovery of the surrounding habitat .

    Wednesday, Mar 28 @ 10:32 am
  • Danny Noe

    Uh, it’s shallow as heck up there all around the the club for miles. So dig a 5 foot deep channel surrounded by less than 3 feet deep water? There are only freshwater fish in that area, the fishing is terrible and always will be. Tourists are the only ones who fish there because they don’t know any better. Tourist have no business running boats in that shallow water that far North. This would just open a can of worms for the area. Get real and tell people the fishing is terrible and they would have a better time on a boat 20 miles or so south. Backside of Currituck County Beaches have never been a boater’s world other than duck hunting. Good luck begging Trump

    Wednesday, Mar 28 @ 1:45 pm
  • Mike

    @BOB. Because it’s their idea! That’s why it’s ok .No one in NC aid more hypocritical than DEQ and CAMA. They charged local towns the same fee for bulldozing 12 miles of beach as some building a floating boat lift. Environmentalist are insane. You can’t reason with them. If you live directly on a body of water in NC , you don’t own it, the state does. I don’t ask permission to do anything with my land , unless it affects my neighbors. Building a pier or bulkhead doesn’t affect anyone. They use fairly tale “proclamations” (i.e. admin laws) to control waterfront properties. Not even real laws. Make believe . Just like the organization . What a joke

    Wednesday, Mar 28 @ 6:25 pm
  • Edward

    Some of you seem to be forgetting that there was a channel that ran up into that boat basin for many years bringing goods, people and daily mail service well into the 70s. That boat basin wouldn’t even be there if that were not the case. Once again, certain entities that know little history of “The Land of the wild Goose” continue to hold us captive on what could be a great opportunity for our area. When the ferry division was attempting to reopen the channel several years ago, they did not “tear anything up”. Just trying to regain access to something that was already there

    Wednesday, Mar 28 @ 11:38 pm
  • And

    And what is that opportunity- mail nowadays and goods arrive by land transportation. Yes I recall the good old days, but now is not those times- the only benefit would be an increase in $$$ as tourists ‘think’ they can negotiate the basin just like the 4WD beaches. Whalehead Club is one of the few if not only peaceful settings in Corolla. And per the BOC any new funds from boaters, etc. would not be directed toward local quality of life improvements- like urgent care center, additional police/fire/ems services, senior programs, educational enrichment.

    Friday, Mar 30 @ 8:00 pm