Relocating the Lighthouse, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina
Ongoing erosion threatened the base of a historic lighthouse at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, despite multiple hard stabilization protection efforts. The park needed to obtain funding and public support to relocate the lighthouse away from the eroding shoreline.
The Cape Hatteras lighthouse is one of the most popular visitor attractions at the park. This historic structure was built on the barrier island in 1803 and is a culturally significant asset.
Following so many unsuccessful attempts to protect the lighthouse with hard structures, the “Move the Lighthouse Committee” was formed in 1986 and became strong proponents of relocating the lighthouse inland. In 1988 the National Academy of Science also recommended that the lighthouse be moved. The National Park Service (NPS) released a statement in December 1989 formally announcing the decision to move it.
Outcomes and Conclusions
Securing funding and gaining public support were two significant challenges to implementing the relocation plan. Planning the move required several years of litigation, planning meetings, and public outreach. Public response was mixed. In particular, it was difficult to persuade stakeholders that the high cost of relocation was more cost-effective in the long term.
This case study is part of the 2015 National Park Service report, Coastal Adaptation Strategies: Case Studies. These case studies initially were developed by park managers as part of a NPS-led coastal adaptation training in May 2012. The case studies follow the format created for EcoAdapt’s Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE) database, including a list of adaptation strategies. All case studies were updated and modified in September 2013 and March 2015 in response to a growing number of requests from coastal parks and other coastal management agencies looking for examples of climate change adaptation strategies for natural and cultural resources and assets along their ocean, lacustrine, and riverine coasts.
Kowlok, J. (2015). Relocating the Lighthouse, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina [Case study on a project of Cape Hatteras National Seashore]. Excerpted from Schupp, C.A., R.L. Beavers, and M.A. Caffrey [eds.]. 2015. Coastal Adaptation Strategies: Case Studies. NPS 999/129700. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado. Retrieved from CAKE: www.cakex.org/case-studies/relocating-lighthouse-cape-hatteras-national…;(Last updated November 2015)