North Carolina's beloved Sugarloaf Island to be restored thanks to legislative support
Sugarloaf Island, a small island off downtown Morehead City, NC serves as a protective barrier for the town. Yet with every passing storm, Sugarloaf's banks have rapidly eroded, causing grave concern over the island's ability to shield Morehead City from severe storm damage and flooding.
Thanks to the support of North Carolina Senator Norman Sanderson and State Representative Pat McElraft, shielding downtown Morehead City will be well-looked-after. They both helped to champion $2 million in legislative funding allowing a team of experts to identify and design the best shoreline stabilization methods for the island, balancing shoreline protection, public uses, and natural resource conservation.
In July, a partnership was announced between aquatic restoration specialists Sea & Shoreline, the North Carolina Coastal Federation, The Town of Morehead City, NC, and Quible & Associates to design a plan to restore and protect the island.
The project will include wave attenuation devices (WADs®) to reduce erosion and help rebuild the shoreline, seagrass plantings to improve water quality, and a living shoreline to stabilize beach areas.
The many benefits of this project include:
- Reducing erosion allowing shorelines to reestablish
- Enhancing the coastal resilience of Morehead City
- Increasing fish habitat and fishing opportunities
- Increasing ecotourism opportunities
- Enhancing seagrass and water quality
- Preventing tree loss
- Stopping shorebird habitat loss
- Increasing carbon sequestration
According to Morehead City Mayor Jerry Jones, "Protecting and restoring our island has been a priority for this town for years and now, thanks to the State Legislature, we finally have the funding to make it happen. We're looking forward to working closely with the professionals from Sea & Shoreline, the North Carolina Coastal Federation, and Quible & Associates to see this project come to fruition."
As the town has not yet secured all funding required to fully complete the project, progress will be made incrementally with the first phase of the restoration estimated at $2M. The project is currently being permitted and construction is expected to start next year.