While nearly all beaches are naturally prone to gradual erosion, adverse weather conditions and severe storms, such as hurricanes, can cause significant and sudden changes in the shoreline.
Beach nourishment provides protection designed to retain and rebuild natural systems while reducing or preventing the consequences of beach erosion. Ongoing maintenance, provided through periodic nourishment, is required to protect our beachfront’s accessibility, natural beauty, and ecological vitality, as well as our community's economic viability.
Energy, wind, waves, tides, currents, and storms all generate energy that impacts our barrier islands and shape the shoreline and beaches. Naturally occurring erosion removes sand and deposits it offshore. Over time, waves return some of the sand to the beach. Storms with heavy surf and high winds can cause erosion to occur with increased intensity and frequency.
Healthy beaches absorb the brunt force of waves, wind, tides, currents, and storms, allowing dunes to protect infrastructure. Beaches and dune systems require nourishment projects to protect, maintain, and preserve the entire coastal system.
Beaches are an integral part of the quality of life in Dare County and support homes, businesses, and related infrastructure (roads, utilities) for many residents and visitors. More than just a playground, beaches are environmental treasures and tremendous economic assets for our community. In addition, beaches provide protection for coastal estuaries, upland structures, and the mainland.
Nags Head's nourishment is likely the largest locally-funded project of its kind in the United States. Project financing is covered by a combination of town-wide property taxes, including revenues from a municipal service district, and a contribution from Dare County.