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Coastal conference confronts controversial issues in Wrightsville Beach

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TWC News: Coastal conference confronts controversial issues in Wrightsville Beach
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WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, N.C. -- The highly controversial sea-level rise discussion continues in North Carolina.

Things heated up in the legislature this summer and Monday it was dubbed the "hot" topic at the annual North Carolina Beach, Inlet and Waterway Association Conference in Wrightsville Beach.

The sea-level rise debate is not so much about whether or not it's happening, but the rate at which it's happening.

Folks with the U.S. Geological Survey said it varies.

"Some places will rise significantly faster than other places. We have just published a study that argues that one of these faster places is between Cape Hatteras and about Boston," said Asbury Sallenger, with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Leaders from these so-called hotspot communities attended the conference Monday where Sallenger shared these findings.

A commissioner from Nags Head said this was not new information and they're already preparing.

"We have to do more planning for the future, we have to think about building better and stronger and getting ready to have different areas that need more protection than others," said Renee Cahoon, a Nags Head commissioner.

The president of the group NC-20 was not completely sold on the hotspot idea.

This group pushed for legislation that would prohibit the state from using an accelerated rate when making decisions. Others wanted scientific data showing an accelerated rise of 39 inches or 1 meter by the year 2100 to be used.

In the end, the bill called for more research. Meanwhile, NC-20 said the focus should be solving other coastal problems.

"Along coastal North Carolina we have an erosion issue, our beaches our eroding we do not have any other tools in our tool box except for beach nourishment or retreat," said Willo Kelly, president of NC-20.

One of the speakers at the conference agreed but said the bill puts off finding a solution for all coastal issues.

"Now, we should be looking at what I call scenario planning which really looks at a multiple range of possible sea level fluctuations and not just sea-level rise but the things associated with that," said Roger Shew, UNCW Department of Geography & Geology.

One thing they all seemed to agree on is the solution is not one size fits all.

The conference wraps up Tuesday afternoon. The hot topic for day two is terminal groins.

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