Looking north from Black Pelican Restaurant in Kitty Hawk at the recently nourished beach.

The beach nourishment project on the northern Dare County beaches is moving along really well and the evidence of how effective it is seems to be spreading daily.

The southern end of Kitty Hawk has now been finished, and what was once a narrow beach with perhaps 20 yards at high tide is now a wide beautiful beach, three or four times wider than it had been.

The northern end of Kitty Hawk and beach in front of Pelican Watch in Southern Shores will be the final stages of the project, which should be finishing up in mid October.

To date, a section of the beach in Duck and almost all of Kill Devil Hills have been nourished.

Although the beach is wide and gives the appearance of a picture-perfect beach, some of the sand will be returning to the sea…by design. Beach nourishment is a shoreline protection tool. A benefit from that process is a wider beach providing a better experience for beachgoers.

However, that is not the primary reason to undertake the expense of a nourishment process. One way in which nourishment protects the shoreline is by forming a sandbar at the point where waves first begin to break as they are coming ashore.

The material for that sandbar comes from the sand on the beach. The movement of waves and currents back to the sea is predictable over time and that action is used to build the protective sandbar.

As some point in time, all nourishment projects have to be replenished. Typically the time between projects is five to eight years. As an example, Nags Head nourished their beaches for the first time in 2011 and will be renourishing next year, a seven year span. 

The good news is, the replenishment process almost always costs less than the first nourishment.