In the sad case of Emerald Isle’s mismanagement of the state’s precious natural coastal resources, a few heroes stand out. These individuals, who in all cases risked their status in the community or agency, tried to stop the juggernaut and hold the line for quality beaches for future generations of North Carolinians. We all owe them a debt of gratitude.

Emily Farmer, former Emerald Isle Town Council member.
Farmer was on the town council when the first bad beach was pumped up on Pine Knolls Shores in 2002. She energetically opposed the Emerald Isle project, having learned from Tracy Rice that the sand would be as bad as that dumped on Pine Knoll Shores. This effort earned her a torrent of negative letters to local papers and snubs at the grocery store. To no one’s surprise, her dedication cost her the next election. The voters of Emerald Isle will reap what they have sown.

Tracy Rice, coastal geologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Raleigh.
Rice was the sole government worker who spoke out and warned against the bad beaches. Copies of her three letters (signed by her boss) warning the Corps were sent to all the communities involved, as well as the state’s coastal managers. For her efforts, she was rewarded with a flood of letters to her bosses in Atlanta and Washington urging she be fired or held back from doing her job. Before she moved away, Rice also warned everyone about the bad beach material for the 2003 nourishment project on Emerald Isle and recommended not mining the tidal delta at Bogue Inlet.

Frank Tursi, North Carolina Coastal Federation, Cape Lookout Coastkeeper.
Tursi played a less visible but critical role in opposition to the bad beaches along Bogue Banks. He obtained material from the Corps’ Wilmington District through the Freedom of Information Act indicating that the Corps was orchestrating resistance to project opponents such as Tracy Rice. Tursi also kept other activists and the media posted on the nature of the beach and the progress of various projects. For a number of months, he organized free beach tours to any and all wishing to see the problem.