BOEM And ECU Sign Agreement To Evaluate North Carolina Sand Resources For Coastal Resilience And Restoration Planning

Release Date
Washington, DC

Contact:  Connie Gillette

As a part of President Obama’s continuing commitment to help coastal communities recover from Hurricane Sandy and promote resilient coastal systems, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and East Carolina University, located in North Carolina, signed a two-year cooperative agreement totaling $200,000 to evaluate sand resources for coastal resilience and restoration planning. The cooperative effort will enable BOEM, East Carolina University (ECU) and its partners to conduct research that will assist coastal communities recovering from storms like Hurricane Sandy.

Under this agreement, scientists from ECU and the University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute (UNC CSI) will work with the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management and Geodynamics LLC to evaluate and consolidate existing geological and geophysical data offshore North Carolina. These data will be used to identify and locate potential areas of sand resources, as well as benthic habitat, with the overall goal of having available geologic and benthic habitat resources data accessible for planners and managers. ECU, UNC CSI and its partners will reanalyze existing data in northeastern North Carolina (north of Cape Hatteras) to develop a revised evaluation of sand resources with the newest available information. Areas for future resource surveys will also be identified.

“This agreement demonstrates BOEM’s commitment to work with North Carolina to help coastal communities recover from storms like Hurricane Sandy and enhance resilience efforts for the future,” said BOEM Acting Director Walter Cruickshank. “We are committed to continuing to work in a collaborative manner to help local communities withstand damage from future storms.”

Following Hurricane Irene, BOEM authorized the use of sand resources in federal waters to restore 7.1 miles of shoreline in Bogue Banks, North Carolina in 2012.

“We thank BOEM and the federal government for supporting North Carolina’s effort to identify sand resources along its shores”, said J.P. Walsh, an Associate Professor from ECU and UNC CSI. “Many coastal communities were impacted by Hurricane Sandy and other recent storms, and these areas are critically important ecologically and economically. This funding will help inform communities as they work towards coastal resilience and restoration.”

“The North Carolina Division of Coastal Management is excited to be working with East Carolina University and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to perform this greatly-needed assessment of sand resources in North Carolina,” said Braxton Davis, Director of the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management. “This project will help improve our understanding of the quality and quantity of sand deposits offshore of North Carolina for use by local governments and the state in planning future coastal storm damage reduction projects.”

BOEM scientists will assist ECU in identifying areas to study for future geophysical and geological surveys, with the purpose of confirming previously identified resources and locating new potential areas of sand resources. BOEM will also help North Carolina develop tools to more readily share sand resource data with other agencies involved in coastal resilience planning.

These activities are essential for reducing potential storm damage to the residents, economies, and infrastructure of North Carolina’s coastal areas. Research funded under this agreement will help ensure that activities including offshore dredging and beach nourishment are conducted in a sustainable manner that is compatible with natural sediment transport and biological processes, as well as stakeholder interests.

This agreement is part of a series of partnerships with coastal Atlantic states using part of the $13.6 million allocated to BOEM through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013. The research will help to identify sand and gravel resources that are appropriate for coastal protection and restoration along the entire Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

Since Hurricane Sandy struck, BOEM has been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, other members of the Federal government’s Hurricane Sandy Task Force, state coastal planning agencies, state geological surveys and other entities to analyze the needs for coastal restoration and to develop restoration plans.

BOEM has the authority to convey, on a noncompetitive basis, the rights to resources for shore protection, beach or wetland restoration projects, or for use in construction projects funded in whole or part, or authorized by the federal government. In exercising this authority, BOEM may issue a negotiated non-competitive lease agreement for the use of OCS sand to a qualifying entity.

Over the past 20 years, BOEM has invested more than $30 million to identify non-energy resources on the OCS, conduct world-class scientific research, and lease OCS resources to coastal communities in need. For more information on BOEM's Marine Minerals Program, visit:

BOEM promotes energy independence, environmental protection and economic development through responsible, science-based management of offshore conventional and renewable energy and marine mineral resources.