Digest>Archives> November 1998

U.S. Congress Approves Funds To Move Cape Hatteras Lighthouse


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Hatteras Lighthouse

$9.8 million approved to move the erosion-threatened Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Just as we went to press U.S. Senator Lauch Faircloth (R-North Carolina) announced that the United States Congress had approved President Clinton's request for $9.8 million to move and save the tallest lighthouse in the United States at Cape Hatteras North Carolina. The lighthouse, which is on the Lighthouse Digest DOOMSDAY LIST of endangered American lighthouses will be moved one-half mile inland from the eroding shoreline.

The provision was included in the Fiscal Year 1999 Omnibus A spending Bill, which Congress was expected to approve.

"President Clinton's budget included the money this year. North Carolina's Governor Hunt supports the move. Congress agreed with President Clinton and Governor Hunt that the move is the only long-term, environmentally sound way to save the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse," said Senator Faircloth.

Senator Faircloth continued, "With the passage of this bill, this irreplaceable symbol . . will be preserved for future generations to enjoy,"

The battle to save the lighthouse has been ongoing for some time with two opposing sides, both wanting to save the lighthouse but in different ways.

The opposition, which wanted to save the lighthouse where it stands was led by Hugh Morton, a wealthy North Carolina businessman, and later by Rep. Walter B. Jones who originally wanted to move the lighthouse, but changed his mind at a later date. Their group wanted to build a fourth groin at the lighthouse to stop the erosion. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers said this would have cost $6.4 million dollars plus expensive beachfilling and if it worked would only keep the lighthouse safe for 30 years. But in reality, the groin could never have been built since hardened coastal structures are illegal under North Carolina law, and the whole matter would then have been tied up in court battles for years until a storm destroyed the lighthouse.

In addition, Congress made it clear that it would not fund activities, such as a groin, which are inconsistent with state and federal environmental laws. Plus, on September 25, 1998 the North Carolina Coastal Resources Committee voted NOT to approve the local county's proposed amendment to its land use plan because it stated a preference for hardened coastal structures in order to protect the lighthouse. You may recall that Lighthouse Digest in a recent issue called for the resignation of the entire Dare County, North Carolina Board of Commissioners for approving this plan and trying to stop the moveof the lighthouse.

Lighthouse Digest, on numerous occasions, urged its readers to write Congress with letters supporting the move as the only logical way to save the lighthouse. You did so in great numbers and we thank you. Members of the Outer Banks Lighthouse Preservation Society, The Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society, the North Carolina Coastal Federation, the Southern Environmental Law Center, the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club and other various lighthouse organizations, all wrote letters to Congress and the Governor requesting that the lighthouse also be moved to save it. Most North Carolina newspapers also wrote editorials supporting the move. So, as you can see, your letters did count!

The National Park Service plans call for the lighthouse to be moved in May of 1999.

This story appeared in the November 1998 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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