Grant money available for oceanfront property owners to maintain dunes

Published 7:08 am Wednesday, August 31, 2022

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Nags Head commissioners allotted $170,000 for a cost share program to encourage beachfront property owners to take an active part in dune management through the planting of dune vegetation, installing sand fencing and hiring contractors to relocate drifting sand back onto the beach.

The program has been around since 2001, but commissioners voted recently to expand it to include sand fencing, hoping to gain more community interest.

The program is open to oceanfront property owners – which includes single family homes, cottage courts, condos (reimbursement via HOAs) and hotels/motels.

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Sand dunes are critical to trap and protect windblown sand and to act as a storm buffer during times of flooding and high waves. Beach towns often receive grant money from the Dare County Shoreline Management Commission to maintain dunes in areas where it is needed the most.

However, if all property owners took an initiative to care for the dunes, beaches would be more stable to surrounding wildlife and homes and personal property would be more protected in the event of a storm.

To encourage this, the Town of Nags Head is offering reimbursements up to $1000 per parcel for oceanfront property owners who plant approved grasses on their dunes; up to $1000 for installing approved sand fences; and up to $3000 for sand re-location. Those who opt for sand relocation can get an additional $500 for vegetation planting.

Interested persons must apply for the program, be accepted, save receipts and agree to an inspection before reimbursements will be available. Property owners must also comply with any necessary CAMA regulations and permits. Though the program is ongoing, grant money will be distributed according to planting season. The Dune Management Cost Share program opens for applications on October 1. Guidelines are available online at

According to Nags Head assistant planner Kate Jones, of all the options, the best way to protect dunes is through the planting of native beach grass, including American beach grass, sea oats, and bitter panicum, because during times of high winds or storms, the fence can get broken and pieces strewn throughout the beach. “We’re trying to push vegetation as much as possible,” she said.

There were 23 grant recipients last year, but Jones anticipates that the number will grow with the program expansion.

For more information about the program, contact the Town of Nags Head.