North Carolina: Fair Bluff Park Phase 2

Rural agricultural town in North Carolina implements nature-based solution to decrease impervious surfaces and improve flood resilience.

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Fair Bluff, North Carolina: $2.44 Million

This is a Justice40 project.


Fair Bluff, North Carolina, was an agricultural town, where tobacco was a major commodity. By the 1980s, as tobacco growth subsided, Fair Bluff began to see significant population decline, which has continued to present day. Recently, Fair Bluff has seen rapid climate migration: the population of the North Carolina town was 951 in 2010, but after hurricanes Matthew and Florence, the population estimates are as low as 450 people. The Fair Bluff central business district experienced historic flooding due to Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and again from Hurricane Florence in 2018. The Lumber River flooded Main Street again in February 2021, prohibiting travel for two days.

Project Description

The Fair Bluff Park Phase 2 project will remediate the floodplain of the Lumber River where the central business district of the town once stood. Using a nature-based solution approach, the project will acquire 51 commercial properties, demolish those structures, dispose of the solid waste, and remediate the area to its natural hydrologic condition of the floodplain of the Lumber River. The project will effectively remove more than 90% of impervious surfaces in the 21.7-acre project area, thereby reducing the risk of flooding to remaining infrastructure and critical facilities adjacent to the project area. The town of Fair Bluff has benefitted from the partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, who coordinated the Hurricane Matthew Disaster Recovery and Resiliency Initiative. Additionally, the state of North Carolina, Columbus County and the Cape Fear Council of Governments have provided generous planning support for this project.

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