07/31/09 — OUTDOORS - Alligator Access

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OUTDOORS - Alligator Access

By Courtesy NCDMF
Published in Sports on July 31, 2009 1:46 PM

Courtesy NCDMF

MOREHEAD CITY -- A traditional commercial fishing access point to the Alligator River will soon get a facelift.

Over the next 18 months the Alligator River Waterman's Association, in partnership with the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program, will construct erosion control systems and new docking facilities on Department of Transportation-owned property at the foot of the U.S. 64 Alligator River Bridge.

The project will be funded by a Waterfront Access and Marine Industry Fund grant ($452,760) from the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.

"We are so happy to hear that we have a contract in hand," said Darlene Sawyer, project manager for the Alligator River Waterman's Association.

Fishermen have used the canal as a protected harbor and for access to local waters continually since the construction of the bridge in the 1960s. It is used extensively during crab season, and landings from the site support several crab shedding operations and seafood dealers in Tyrell and adjacent counties.

Commercial fishermen maintained the canal with their own funding. However, in recent years, erosion has become so bad that the canal fills one month after it has been dredged, according to Sawyer.

"This will give an opportunity to keep the canal open and give us a safe harbor, which is an important factor," said Sawyer.

DMF Director Louis Daniel said the Alligator River site is indicative of many traditional commercial fishing access sites across the state where fishermen simply need a little help to stay afloat. The site is also a popular access for duck hunters and kayakers, Daniel said.

The grant contract calls for building a 155-foot rock jetty on the south side of the canal and replacing/repairing an existing 215-foot wooden bulkhead against the bank in a parking/loading area. The contract also calls for installing a 250-foot-long, 4-foot-wide dock on a canal bank beside U.S. 64 to create 10 dockage spaces. Plans also involve installing culverts and a driveway on adjacent property to provide an additional access to water.

The Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program agreed to serve as a state partner on the project.

"The Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program believes in protecting the traditional users of this small harbor, and we look forward to working with the Alligator River Waterman's Association to provide access to the river," said APNEP Director Bill Crowell.