CAMAgram - Fall 2008
Mitchell, Carter appointed to CRC
Gov. Mike Easley has appointed Ed Mitchell and Veronica Carter to four-year terms on the Coastal Resources Commission.
Carter is a retired Army officer with more than 27 years experience managing diverse supply chain and logistics operations in military, government and international organizations. She is a manager with Integrity Consulting. Carter serves on the board of directors of the Cape Fear Chapter of Habitat for Humanity and the North Carolina Coastal Federation.Resources Commission. Carter holds the at-large position formerly held by Dr. Joseph Gore, and Mitchell holds the coastal land development seat formerly held by Doug Langford.
Mitchell is a developer of master planned communities and is the president of River Dunes Corporation. During the past 22 years, he has been involved in the planning, development, sales and marketing of more than 20 communities, both large and small. During this period, he has gained a heightened understanding of the need to balance economic and environmental concerns. One of his current projects is the River Dunes Community, a 1350-acre master planned waterfront community in Pamlico County.
Ocean Policy Steering Committee issues recommendations on emerging ocean issues
Like other coastal states, North Carolina has recently seen increased interest in offshore oil and gas drilling, offshore wind turbines, and aquaculture farms – all industries that could have significant effects on the state’s coastal waters.
These emerging issues signal a need for North Carolina to review its ocean policy structure and to devise policy options that ensure we are prepared to meet future challenges. Earlier this year, the Ocean Policy Steering Committee was established to identify emerging environmental, legal and policy issues associated with the use and development of ocean resources in North Carolina’s coastal ocean waters and in adjacent federal waters. Since that time, the 14-member committee has been taking a comprehensive look at these emerging issues, and this month will release a draft set of recommendations for managing North Carolina’s coastal waters.
The OPSC is comprised of academics (Duke, UNC Law, UNCW, NC State, ECU), NC Sea Grant, state (DMF, DWQ), federal (MMS) and local representatives, non-profits and other stakeholders. The committee has focused on the following five emerging issues:
Sand Resource Management – As major storm events, climate change and sea level rise continue to shape our coastal beaches, North Carolina will experience an increased need for beach nourishment projects along the oceanfront. There are questions regarding access to sand resources as well as their availability, and there may also be increased pressures to mine inlet shoals for sand resources as well as concerns about the erosive characteristics of the inlets themselves.
Ocean-Based Renewable Energy and Alternative Energy Facility Siting – Recent months have seen the lifting of the moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling, and increased interest in exploring alternative energies such as wind, wave and tidal energy. Wind energy especially has gained momentum and is likely the first alternative energy technology that will be proposed for N.C. waters.
Ocean Outfalls and Alternate Water Treatment Methods – As coastal communities continue to grow, there will likely be an increased need for drinking water and wastewater disposal.
Open Ocean Aquaculture – Fish farming, as a supplement to marine fisheries, has seen increased interest as well.
Comprehensive Ocean Management – Our continued dependence on the many resources provided by our coastal and ocean waters will lead to increased user conflicts in the future.
Early next year, the committee will be holding public meetings on the draft recommendations, which will soon be available on the North Carolina Coastal Resources Law, Planning and Policy Center's web site. The recommendations include development of a comprehensive plan to protect beaches and inlets, identification of available sand resources, creation of a coastal vulnerability index, and mapping of ocean resources.
Hearings scheduled to discuss Beach and Inlet Management Plan development
The Divisions of Coastal Management (DCM) and Water Resources (DWR) are partnering to develop the state’s first comprehensive Beach and Inlet Management Plan (BIMP). The BIMP is the state's attempt at developing a systematic management strategy for its 326 miles of oceanfront barrier islands and 19 active tidal inlet complexes.
Creation of the BIMP was a recommendation of the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan that was adopted in 2004, as well as a directive of the General Assembly’s 2000 Appropriations Bill (HB 1840). The General Assembly appropriated $750,000 to the Division of Water Resources for the initial phase of the BIMP development. In September 2007, DENR hired the engineering firm of Moffatt & Nichol to assist the state with the following tasks over an 18-month period: 1) data identification and acquisition of existing datasets, 2) definition of beach and inlet management regions, 3) scheduling and facilitation of stakeholder meetings, 4) development of draft beach and inlet management strategies and 5) preparation of a final report.
Two groups have been established to guide the initial BIMP development: a BIMP Advisory Committee and a DENR technical work group. The advisory committee is composed of representatives from federal and state agencies, local governments, academic institutions, and non-profit organizations. The technical work group is comprised of DENR agency representatives.
The regions and sub-regions were delineated using natural features and existing county lines. The next step will be developing management strategies for each region and sub-region. As management strategies are developed, DCM and DWR will be looking to incorporate many ecological, economic and sociopolitical factors that affect beach and inlet management. Public input will be critical in the next phases of the BIMP process. Meetings will be held during the first two weeks of December at the following locations and dates:
Oceanfront setback and static line rules stalled until Legislature convenes
In September, the Coastal Resources Commission approved changes to its rules governing setbacks for oceanfront structures and static setback lines for communities with large-scale beach nourishment projects. The rules were set to become effective Dec. 1. However, the Rules Review Commission received 10 letters objecting to the rule changes. That means the rules must now be put on hold to give the General Assembly the option of reviewing, and possibly changing or rejecting, them during its next session.
Legislators have 30 days after the session begins to introduce a bill regarding the rule changes. If no bill is introduced, the rules become law on day 31 of the session. They also become law at the end of the session if a bill is introduced but not voted on.
The setback rule changes increase setback distances for large-scale oceanfront structures. Under current rules, single-family structures on the oceanfront, regardless of size, have a setback of 30 times the long-term average annual erosion rate, with a minimum setback of 60 feet. The proposed oceanfront setbacks are based on total square footage regardless of whether the structure is single-family, multi-family or commercial. In the proposed policy, the minimum setback factor remains 30 times the erosion rate for all structures less than 5,000 square feet, regardless of use. The proposed changes would allow the setback factor to increase incrementally with structure size, with the maximum setback at 90 times the erosion rate for structures larger than 100,000 square feet.
The static line rule changes develop separate management strategies for beaches that receive ongoing long-term, large-scale beach fill (sand nourishment) versus those that do not. The rule change could allow limited development seaward of the static line when a community has a long-term (at least 30 years) beach fill program in place that includes identifying beach compatible sand and a financial plan to build and maintain the project for its design life. The changes allow limited development under these conditions as a “static line exception.” Additionally, if the community has such a program, their maximum setback will be the current maximum of 60 times the erosion rate for large structures.
Labor Day “Trash Blitz” keeps Masonboro Island clean
The Masonboro Island coastal reserve has traditionally been a popular spot to spend summer
holidays. Unfortunately, not everyone who takes advantage of the reserve on those days remembers to leave the island as unspoiled as they found it. Over the years, some raucous holiday parties have left the island looking more like a landfill. Volunteers collected more than 1,500 pounds of trash following the Fourth of July holiday this year.
Reserve site manager Hope Sutton was determined to curb some of the more destructive activities on Labor Day weekend this year. She worked with local law enforcement officials to address public safety issues and organized more than 50 volunteers who spent their Labor Day weekend making sure Masonboro Island stayed clean.
The volunteers staffed booths at three locations -- Carolina Beach Wildlife boat ramp at Snows Cut, Wrightsville Beach Wildlife boat ramp, and the County's Trails End boat ramp -- from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. during all three days of the holiday weekend. Materials were also distributed at some of the area marinas.
The volunteers talked to people about the reserve and the guidelines for visiting Masonboro Island. They also handed out trash bags. Throughout the day, they heard positive responses from most people and were thanked many times for their efforts. Many long-time visitors of Masonboro had stories to share or wanted to talk about their love of the island.
This effort will likely be followed up by similar volunteer events next season, hopefully on the three big summer holiday weekends, Sutton says. Additional outreach in advance of next season will include more interaction with private marinas, direct outreach to the UNC-Wilmington population, and more public education about the island, its inhabitants, habitats and stewardship.
Many thanks to our partners/sponsors on this project:
2009 CRC meetings schedule
February 11-13: Morehead City, Crystal Coast Civic Center
Rachel Carson Reserve Big Sweep
Forty-four volunteers helped collect data and remove debris from the Rachel Carson Reserve for two
days in early October in celebration of North Carolina’s annual Big Sweep. Volunteers included reserve staff, Division of Coastal Management staff, 4-H groups, and Rachel Carson Reserve volunteers. Nearly 1.5 miles of shoreline were covered and 1,400 pounds of debris removed – most of the weight being attributed to construction and dock debris. Two of the most interesting finds were a television and a dolphin plaque.
N.C. Big Sweep, founded in 1987 as Beach Sweep, is the nation’s first statewide waterway cleanup. The purpose is to rid our watersheds of litter by promoting environmental education and an annual statewide cleanup. Since its inception, more than 230,000 volunteers have participated and collected more than eight million pounds of trash from North Carolina watersheds. Big Sweep in Carteret County is sponsored and organized by N.C. State University’s Cooperative Extension Service.
Rachel Carson Reserve hosts summer programs for local students
Last summer, the classroom located in the reserve’s Beaufort headquarters was busy with future scientists looking through microscopes, dissecting sea urchins, making shirts and hats and working on other cool stuff. The reserve hosted four different camps throughout the summer with the goal to give students of all ages in the community an opportunity to spend part of their summer focusing on estuarine studies.
The Junior Naturalist Program for students in grades 4-8 was a weekly course that ran every Wednesday from June 18-Aug. 6. Students focused on water quality, horse studies, plankton, beach profiles and much more. One student who completed all eight sessions said, “I’ve learned so many new things, even though I have lived here all my life.” Each Junior Naturalist Program averaged seven students per course.
Adventures in the Estuary Program for students in grades 1-3 was a four-day session where students focused on habitats, invertebrates, vertebrates and plankton. Each session had six participants. When asked to comment on what they liked most about the class, one student answered, “Everything! Going to the estuary was fun.”
Preschool Storytime Arts and Crafts for preschoolers was held once a month during June, July and August. Each session consisted of a story, estuarine critter observation and a craft project. Topics included hermit crabs, horseshoe crabs and birds. Each session averaged five participants.
Saltwater Science in partnership with the N. C. Maritime Museum was a three-day program for students entering grades 4-6. Students focused on estuary basics, plankton and water quality. Six students participated in the Saltwater Science program.
Planning for next summer’s programs has already begun. For more information about these programs please contact education specialist Lori Davis at (252) 838-0883.
Coastal Reserve grants
DCM has also received a $89,904 grant from the Division of Water Resources for debris removal and estuarine habitat restoration on the Permuda Island Coastal Reserve.
The Clean Water Management Trust Fund has awarded DCM $304,000 for phase 2 of a multi-year hydrologic restoration project at the Emily and Richardson Preyer Buckridge Coastal Reserve site. The funds will be used to purchase and install water control structures to prevent saltwater intrusion into a priority conservation area.
Morehead City District field representative Jonathan Howell has accepted the position of assistant major permits coordinator in the major permits unit at the Morehead City office. Jonathan will begin his new job Dec. 1.
Wilmington office field representative Robb Mairs has left DCM for a position with a private company.
Rich Weaver, assistant major permits coordinator in the Morehead City office, has also left DCM for a position with the Environmental Affairs Department at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point.
Coastal reserve research associate Heather Wells and her husband, Dave, welcomed a daughter, Lila Parker, on Sept. 3.
Ward Zimmerman has been hired as an assistant attorney general, and will be representing DCM staff in our legal matters