The boat ramp on Lennoxville Road in Beaufort will be getting an eco-friendly facelift thanks to a joint venture between the state Wildlife Resources Commission, the NC Coastal Federation and the Town of Beaufort.
The project aims to reduce stormwater runoff by replacing compacted gravel parking spaces with Ecoraster pervious paving grids, which encourage water to soak into the ground rather than run off into surrounding waterways.
“This is a good thing for Taylors Creek,” said Beaufort Town Manager John Day. “We’ve been looking forward to breaking ground on this project for some time. We were adamant about making the ramp upgrades as environmentally friendly as possible and are thrilled with this partnership to make a great project.”
The ramp and parking lot were closed last week and are expected to remain closed until the project is completed at the end of November. While the Lennoxville ramp is closed, boaters should use the Town Creek ramp off Hwy 70 near the Beaufort bridge or the Newport River access on the Radio Island Causeway.
The finished parking lot will blend traditional paving along the driving aisles and permeable pavers in the parking spaces themselves. According to a news release from the NC Coastal Federation (NCCF), most of the runoff from the parking aisles will flow into the permeable areas.
In addition to the lot improvements, existing green spaces and stormwater devices will be enhanced to capture more runoff.
“The current gravel lot actually produces very silty runoff due to the years of compaction,” NCCF Coastal Specialist Bree Charron said. “This project will improve a very heavily used water access point. It’s really a win-win for everyone.”
Funding for the $334,000 project comes from a mix of public sources.
The Wildlife Commission, which manages the boat ramp, originally budgeted about $195,000 to pave the lot using traditional, impermeable materials.
NCCF saw an opportunity to turn the paving project into a stormwater management solution, and was able to secure $100,000 from the NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund to cover the cost of the Ecoraster paving grids. The Town of Beaufort jumped on board as well, and is in the process of securing an additional $39,000 from the NC Division of Soil and Water Conservation to add even more permeable areas to the lot.
Decreasing the volume of runoff to its surrounding water bodies is a key goal of the town’s Watershed Restoration Plan that was approved by the state in 2017. The plan’s overall mission is to reduce stormwater runoff in town by .088 gallons per square foot by 2047.
“It is really great to see joint resources going toward implementation of the Beaufort Watershed Restoration Plan,” NCCF Deputy Director and watershed restoration planner Lauren Kolodij said. “The Town has really embraced the plan and its strategies to reduce runoff in Beaufort.”