Local News

Bigger dredge to help keep Oregon Inlet open

Posted April 15, 2011

The Herbert C. Bonner Bridge spans Oregon Inlet to connect Hatteras Island with the mainland.

— The Army Corps of Engineers agreed Friday to move a larger dredge to Oregon Inlet to keep the channel open for commercial fishing vessels, Gov. Beverly Perdue said Friday.

The U.S. Coast Guard on Monday threatened to declare Oregon Inlet impassable for commercial vessels, and Perdue vowed to take all necessary steps to keep the channel open.

Shifting sands, an aging bridge and federal funding cuts are already forcing commercial fishermen to bypass Oregon Inlet and take their catches to neighboring Virginia. The Outer Banks region and the state could lose about $700 million a year if the inlet is closed, state officials said.

“It’s not just fishing jobs at stake if the inlet closes. It’s our tourism, our restaurants, our packing houses and our maintenance yards," Perdue said in a statement. "I am committed to working with the Corps (of Engineers) and local officials to protect those jobs and keep Oregon Inlet open, but at the end of the day, we need support from the feds.”

The Corps of Engineers estimates that restoring the inlet to at least 14 feet deep – it now has a depth of 9 feet in places – and keeping it that way would cost $20 million. The next federal budget allocates only $1 million to the project.

Perdue said North Carolina is willing to chip in money to keep the Oregon Inlet open to commercial boat traffic.

The Corps of Engineers will move the dredge Currituck from Ocean City, Md., to North Carolina on Saturday and start dredging Oregon Inlet around the clock. The federal government will cover the expense of moving the dredge and operating it for the next month, Perdue said.

The dredge Merritt, which has been trying to keep the inlet open, will temporarily move to another location, officials said.

The governor has sent a letter to officials in Washington, urging them to prioritize funding for the Outer Banks dredging operations.

"Washington cannot forget the real people who depend on the fishing industry. They should not ignore the hundreds of millions of dollars that pump into the economy (from the industry)," she said.


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  • gman007 Apr 15, 2011

    "Washington cannot forget the real people who depend on the fishing industry. They should not ignore the hundreds of millions of dollars that pump into the economy (from the industry)," she said.

    Admittedly I know nothing about it, but the above statement seems odd. If 'the industry' can pump 'hundreds of millions' into the economy, why does it need the Feds to pay $20 mil for dredging? Maybe Bev should have left that last part out.

  • Rolling Along Apr 15, 2011

    Kind of pointless trying to stop mother nature...and expensive!

  • okemooutlaw44 Apr 15, 2011

    Not going to do one Iotta of any good with out the jetties/groins in place it will start to close up the the minute the dredge stops-been thru it too many times trying to make a living fishing for a paycheck!!! I really do wonder where all these politicians were that are trying so deperately to help us commercial fisherman back in the 90's

  • Hater like Darth Vader Apr 15, 2011

    It will cost $20 million because the Corps of Engineers will probably have to put a hopper dredge on it and if you consider a 10 or 15 man crew and then when you are talking about 36" plus hydraulic dredges, you have some serious repair cost every time something breaks. a 36" brass valve can cost in the neighborhood of $80,000.

  • Granpaa Apr 15, 2011

    Congrats to our Governor for her realizing the importance of the Outer Banks. This is not only about dredging. It's about a way of life and the employment of thousands of people. "Outer Banks Catch", promoting using NC products, has remained at the forefront of this. Use NC products from this Industry. One main way is to keep Oregan Inlet open. It's good for all in our State.

  • oceancandle Apr 15, 2011

    State's gotta do what they have to to keep everything on the OBX in operational order, it's the greatest place on the planet...in my own personal opinion! LOVE IT!

  • GoGreen Apr 15, 2011

    Thank goodness we have a Governor that can get things done!

  • ncouterbanks69 Apr 15, 2011

    If you have never done so chartering a boat out of Oregon Inlet is an absolute blast. I highly recommend it....tons of fun and fresh fish for those of you who enjoy it.

  • monnom Apr 15, 2011

    Are there any dredging experts out there who can explain why it would cost $20 MILLION??? Over how much time?