MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (WNCT) — A check presentation was held Thursday to help in the restoration process for Sugarloaf Island, a small island off downtown Morehead City.

NC State Sen. Norm Sanderson and NC Rep. Pat McElraft presented a $2 million check in legislative funding that will allow a team of experts to do their work in designing shoreline stabilization methods for Sugarloaf Island.

“This is such a great taxpayer project because it is in our resiliency and our mitigation funding that we have saved so much money for,” said McElraft.

“The $2 million that the general assembly was able to appropriate to the town of Morehead City for this project is not going to complete it, but it’s good. We’re gonna need a well underway,” Sanderson said.

A partnership was announced in July between aquatic restoration specialists Sea & Shoreline, the NC Coastal Federation, the Town of Morehead City and Quible & Associates to design a plan to restore and protect the island.

According to a press release on Tuesday about the check presentation, the list of benefits of the project include:
• Reducing erosion allowing shorelines to reestablish
• Enhancing the coastal resilience of Morehead City
• Increasing fish habitat and fishing opportunities
• Increasing ecotourism opportunities
• Enhancing seagrass and water quality
• Preventing tree loss
• Stopping shorebird habitat loss
• Increasing carbon sequestration

“Protecting and restoring our island has been a priority for this town for years and now, thanks to the state legislature, we finally have the funding to make it happen,” Morehead City Mayor Jerry Jones said. “We’re looking forward to working closely with the professionals from Sea & Shoreline, the North Carolina Coastal Federation, and Quible & Associates to see this project come to fruition.”

This is the first phase of the project, which is expected to start next year.