August 13, 2007

Expert to Offer Thoughts on Beach Nourishment

By Lindell Kay, The Daily News, Jacksonville, N.C.

Aug. 13--NORTH TOPSAIL BEACH -- Considered a beach erosion expert by some and a beach nourishment opponent by others, retired Duke University professor Orrin Pilkey will be speaking in North Topsail Beach on Tuesday.

"I am excited at the opportunity to present my view of beach nourishment to the people of North Topsail Beach," Pilkey said Friday. "This is a community where beach nourishment was apparently voted down, but the administration wants to proceed with it anyway."

Pilkey said what was happening in North Topsail Beach is a microcosm of what is happening everywhere.

"All of the nation's barrier islands are eroding," he said. "What is happening at North Topsail is systematic of a national problem."

Dick Macartney, the town's beach nourishment committee chairman, said that while he did not agree with Pilkey's assessments of shoreline protection, he respects the work he has done to preserve North Carolina's beaches.

"I credit Dr. Pilkey's fight against artificial seawalls as to why North Carolina has some of the nicest beaches on the Atlantic seaboard," he said.

But Macartney said he disagrees totally with Pilkey's stance on beach nourishment.

"Beach nourishment is in the best interest of this community," Macartney said. "Based on Dr. Pilkey's previous statements, it is expected he will be negative about coastal development and beach nourishment. But since there is development already here, it seems prudent methods be addressed to protect that development, and Pilkey most likely will not."

Macartney said he was glad to see Pilkey speaking at North Topsail Beach.

"The more people talk about beach nourishment, the faster they will come to a consensus over it," he said.

North Topsail Beach resident Ed Doherty invited Pilkey to speak.

"We just wanted an outsider's view of what might work and what might not work," Doherty said. "It is always healthy to have another perspective."

Doherty said too many residents and elected officials were too close to the problem of beach nourishment to see clearly.

"Sometimes when you are too close to a situation, you can't see the forest for the trees or in this case the beach for the sand," he said.

Pilkey is professor emeritus of geology and director emeritus of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Duke University.

He will speak about the root causes of beach erosion and the pros and cons of various approaches to controlling beach erosion.

Pilkey received his doctorate of philosophy in geology from Florida State University in 1962. His 45 years of experience lie in basic and applied coastal geology, focusing primarily on barrier island coasts according to his biography.

Pilkey will speak at the North Topsail Beach Town Hall on at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Lindell Kay covers crime Jacksonville, Onslow County and surrounding areas. Contact him at [email protected] or (910) 554-8534. To comment on this story or to read others' comments go to


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