Beach Bulldozing

(Also see Oceanfront Erosion Response)

Beach bulldozing is a common method of oceanfront erosion management that moves beach sand from areas seaward of the first line of natural, stable vegetation to repair storm damage to an existing dune or to create a protective berm for an imminently threatened structure.  

Beach bulldozing can be authorized through several CAMA permit processes depending upon the circumstances and conditions on your particular site.

Under a CAMA General Permit, sand movement is limited to the beach area above the Normal High Water line. A CAMA Minor Permit for beach bulldozing allows work to the Normal High Water.

If your project exceeds the scope of the General or Minor Permit use standards or requires the movement of sand that is seaward of the Normal High Water Line, then a CAMA Major Permit and a State Dredge and Fill Permit will be required. You should contact your DCM District Office for assistance. Any work performed waterward of Normal High Water also requires a federal permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

CAMA Permit conditions will vary according to site conditions and type of permit, but in all cases the following permit conditions shall apply (Figure 4.1):

  • In order to minimize adverse impacts to nesting sea turtles, no work shall occur within the period of May 1 through Nov. 15 without prior approval from the Division of Coastal Management, in coordination with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

  • The project should maintain a slope similar to normal conditions. The slope, or grade, of the project must not be so steep that it endangers the public or interferes with public use of the beach.

  • The beach profile may not be lowered more than one foot as measured from the existing surface elevation.

  • Beach bulldozing must not extend past the lateral boundary of your property, unless you have permission from the neighboring landowner.

  • Beach bulldozing must not significantly increase erosion on neighboring properties or adversely affect important natural or cultural resources.

Figure 4.1


All of the above permits are issued to property owners to repair existing dunes and dune systems following an erosion event. The Coastal Area Management Act exempts beach bulldozing from the permit process when it is done to protect imminently threatened structures by the creation of protective sand dunes, A structure shall be considered imminently threatened if its foundation, septic system, or right-of-way in the case of roads, is less than 20 feet away from the erosion scarp. Property owners who believe their structure is imminently threatened must contact a CAMA representative for consultation and a site visit prior to beginning work. This exempt authorization is subject to the above listed conditions, and any work performed below the Normal High Water line still needs federal authorization from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.