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Coastal businesses want NC to reclaim ownership of Oregon Inlet

Posted May 31, 2013

— Saying they are frustrated with frequent impassibility of Oregon Inlet, coastal businesses are cheering a plan to study the possibility of a state takeover of the mercurial waterway.

A provision in the budget proposal approved last week by the state Senate calls for the creation of a task force to consider how ownership of the inlet and surrounding land could be transferred from the federal government to North Carolina.

The state deeded Oregon Inlet to the federal government in 1958, and it now is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Spokesmen for the National Park Service, which oversees the inlet, said talk of a potential state takeover caught them off guard. The North Carolina Coastal Federation, which advocates for protecting coastal waterways and beaches, calls the idea unrealistic.

Business owners, however, want action as soon as possible.

"Why are we going to spend a year re-answering questions we already know the answers to? Let's move forward to get the necessary lands," said Harry Schiffman, who owns a tow boat company.

Moving sand constantly clogs Oregon Inlet, which is a critical path for commercial and recreational boats traveling along the Outer Banks.

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"It's been a crisis for a long time," said John Bayliff, whose Wanchese company builds and repairs boats. "The negative reputation of Oregon Inlet keeps people away."

Business owners said they trust the state to act quickly in their interests when Mother Nature blocks the channel.

"If we only have to deal with the state and the state agencies in order to get this project done, it would be a lot easier," said Jim Tobin, who owns Pirate's Cove Marina in Manteo.

Currently, when the state has available money, it hires a dredging ship to clear the channel, but that solution is temporary at best.

"Since November, our channel has been blocked more than it has been usable," Schiffman said.

The business owners want an elaborate sand-removal system built or jetties to provide a more permanent solution to keep the inlet clear. The state Senate recently repealed a law that limited how many jetties could be built along the coast.

Either proposal would cost tens of millions of dollars, but coastal residents argue that the economic boost a clear channel would provide would easily offset those costs.

"It's a shame to have opportunity, growth, jobs, business and have all that turned away," Bayliff said.


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  • beachboater Jun 3, 2013

    Jetties at Oregon Inlet has been cussed and discussed for at least 40 years. N.C. doesn't have the money to maintain Oregon Inlet.

    The locals say it would be easier to deal with the state than the feds on dredging. The feds have one major advantage over the state. The feds can PRINT MONEY. The state cannot.

  • Whatev333 Jun 3, 2013

    So, let me guess? The National Park Service and the US Army Corp of Engineers are supposed to defer to the State of NC? Never mind NEPA, the Clean Water Act, etc etc. These business owners are out of their ever loving mind. Tear the bridge down and put a ferry in. Groins and jetties will create long term problems including the disappearance of every beach down stream from the inlet. Unreal.

  • EvanRude Jun 3, 2013

    Maybe Dare County generates more tax revenue than they consume. So do Charlotte and other NC areas. But does Dare County generate enough tax revenue to pay for the continuing effects of shifting sands or will this tip them into a deficit position? Also, you can't claim the state's entire tourism tax base as a reason to do something in one area.

  • btneast Jun 3, 2013

    Why should thousands of taxpayers support maybe 300 families on the coast?
    I take it economics isn't your strong suit? #1, it will affect way more than 300 families....way more. Its not just the fishermen(comm and rec), its also all the people they interact with economically. The "boat people" buy groceries, cars, eat out, rent houses, pay taxes, buy clothes, etc. #2...you like fresh seafood? This isn't the only source, but losing that source will affect the cost of seafood HERE. #3...Tourism. Losing Oregon Inlet will negatively affect tourism to this area, which is the single largest tax revenue area for NC....Dare County generates WAY more tax revenue than they consume....so their excess benefits you and me here in the Triangle.

  • jbyrd May 31, 2013

    Are these the same folks wanting NC taxpayers to foot the bill for THEIR BRIDGE when they just convinced the NC legislature that THEY can take care of THEIR OWN SALTWATER FISHEREIS by getting the gamefish bill killed? Let THEM PAY THE BILL SINCE THEY OWN THE COAST!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • lolly May 31, 2013

    Why? Why should thousands of taxpayers support maybe 300 families on the coast?

    Build your house on sand, then watch the sand slip into the sea - Jimmi had it right.