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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Coastal Management - Fall 2009

Coastal Management

CAMAgram - Fall 2009

Coastal Resources Commission begins study of feasibility of terminal groins

The N.C. Coastal Resources Commission, in consultation with the state divisions of Coastal Management and Land Resources and the Coastal Resources Advisory Council, is conducting a study of the feasibility and advisability of the use of terminal groins as erosion control devices.

The study was mandated by Session Law 2009-479, which requires the CRC to conduct the study and present a report to the Environmental Review Commission and the General Assembly by April 1, 2010. The Environmental Review Commission is a joint legislative study committee.

The bill directs the CRC to consider the following:

  • Scientific data regarding the effectiveness of terminal groins constructed in North Carolina and other states in controlling erosion. Such data will include consideration of the effect of terminal groins on adjacent areas of the coastline.

  • Scientific data regarding the impact of terminal groins on the environment and natural wildlife habitats.

  • Information regarding the engineering techniques used to construct terminal groins, including technological advances and techniques that minimize the impact on adjacent shorelines.

  • Information regarding the current and projected economic impact to the state and local governments and the private sector from erosion caused by shifting inlets, including loss of property, public infrastructure and tax base.

  • Information regarding the public and private monetary costs of the construction and maintenance of terminal groins.

  • Whether the potential use of terminal groins should be limited to navigable, dredged inlet channels.

The CRC has contracted the study to the engineering firm Moffatt and Nichol, and has asked the CRC’s Science Panel to serve as a peer review group for the study. The panel is helping direct and finalize the scope of work associated with the CRC effort.
The science panel’s first task was to assist Moffatt and Nichol with selecting the five coastal structures that will be used for the study. The five structures are located at Oregon Inlet and Fort Macon in North Carolina; and Amelia Island, Captiva Island and John’s Pass in Florida.

Public meetings
The CRC will conduct several public meetings related to the terminal groin study. One meeting has already been held, during the CRC’s Oct. 29 meeting in Atlantic Beach. The remaining meetings are scheduled for the following dates:

  • 5 p.m. Dec. 16 at Kill Devil Hills Town Hall, 102 Town Hall Dr. 

  • Jan. 13, 2010 at North Raleigh Hilton, 3415 Wake Forest Rd., time to be announced

  • 5 p.m. Feb. 17, 2010 at the New Hanover County Government Complex, Wilmington

  • March 24 or 25 at Sea Trail Resort, Sunset Beach, time to be announced

To submit written comments, please e-mail, or send via mail to Jim Gregson, 400 Commerce Ave., Morehead City, N.C.  28557.

Find out more about the study, study site locations and upcoming meetings, and view all comments received to date on the terminal groin study Web site.

Survey says: Planning for sea level rise should start now

The state Division of Coastal Management recently conducted a survey designed to gain insight into public perceptions of sea level rise impacts in North Carolina. More than 1,100 surveys were completed by respondents from North Carolina.

The survey showed an overwhelming belief among respondents that sea level rise is occurring, and that state agencies should be planning now for its effects:

SLR Chart

When asked how much sea level rise they believe will occur by the year 2100, the majority of those people who responded said between one foot and three feet.

When asked who should be taking action on sea level rise, the Coastal Resources Commission topped the list of groups that the respondents believe should be addressing the issue. The CRC is followed closely by the scientific community and other state agencies. A significant number of respondents noted that real estate agents and developers should play a supporting role.

The survey will help the division identify perceptions of risk from sea level rise, what stakeholders believe should be done to address the potential impacts, and who should be taking action. The answers will also assist DCM in preparing a written Coastal Resources Commission policy on sea level rise, and in offering assistance to coastal local governments, partner agencies and other stakeholders. 

The survey is the first part of a larger effort by the N.C. Division of Coastal Management, the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to address potential responses to sea level rise on a state level. DCM is also working with DENR to co-host a sea level rise science forum Jan. 14-15, to be followed by a policy summit meeting. 

North Carolina Sea Level Rise Science Forum registration open 

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources is hosting a Science Forum on Sea Level Rise on Jan. 14-15 at the Hilton North Raleigh. The forum will feature distinguished speakers from North Carolina, as well as invited speakers from other states, and will be the vehicle through which the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission will release a preliminary report on the current and projected rates of sea level rise in the state. The report will project sea level rise ranges in 25-year intervals through 2100. The CRC, as well as other DENR agencies, will be able to use these metrics as the foundation for policy development and adaptation planning. 

Anyone is welcome to register, including state and local officials, resource managers, emergency managers, planners, infrastructure providers (e.g., transportation and utilities), conservationists, private sector, and other interested parties. 
Registration is now open and is limited to 250 people. There is no cost to register. To register, please send an email with the following information:

  • Name

  • Title and affiliation

  • Mailing address

  • Telephone number

Expected speakers include:

Dr. Virginia Burkett, chief scientist for Global Change Research, U.S. Geological Survey
Mr. Ted Devens, project planning engineer, N.C. Department of Transportation
Mr. John Dorman, assistant director, N.C. Division of Emergency Management
Dr. Gordon Hamilton, research associate professor, Climate Change Institute, University of Maine
Dr. Benjamin Horton, assistant professor of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Margery Overton, professor of Civil Engineering, N.C. State University; chairman, CRC Science Panel
Dr. Stanley Riggs, distinguished professor of Geology, East Carolina University; CRC Science Panel member

Commissioner Sermons leaves CRC for Superior Court

CRC member Wayland Sermons has resigned from the CRC following his appointment as a Beaufort County Superior Court judge by Gov. Beverly Perdue in August.

“Wayland Sermons’ broad career experience in law and his commitment to his community have prepared him well for this position,” Perdue said in press release. “I am confident he will serve the people of the 2nd Judicial District with distinction.”

The appointment meant Sermons had to resign from the Coastal Resources Commission, the Legislative Offshore Energy Exploration Study Committee and as the attorney for the towns of Bath and Chocowinity.

“Wayland has been a very valuable member of the Coastal Resources Commission,” said CRC chairman Bob Emory. “We appreciate his work on behalf of the North Carolina coast, and wish him the best of luck in his new work as a Superior Court judge.”

Sermons was appointed to the CRC in 2006 as the Sports Fishing representative.

N.C. Divisions of Coastal Management and Water Quality Work to Streamline Environmental Permits in Riparian Buffer Areas 

The state’s divisions of Coastal Management and Water Quality are working together to streamline environmental permitting in the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico River basins. The agencies have an agreement that will allow Coastal Management permitting staff to review and approve certain activities within the Neuse River and Tar-Pamlico River riparian buffer areas. 

The memorandum of agreement grants DCM the authority, on behalf of DWQ, to review and approve requests for buffer authorization certificates for development projects that also require a Coastal Area Management Act general or minor permit. 

“This is a terrific example of two environmental programs working together to not only improve efficiency of permitting protections for these sensitive areas, but also simplifying the permitting process for the regulated community,” said Dee Freeman, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. 

Specifically, this agreement applies to development activities consistent with CAMA general permits for bulkheads; riprap; docks and piers; boat ramps; groins; maintenance excavation activities; installation of aerial and subaqueous utility lines; emergency CAMA and/or dredge and fill projects; temporary structures; replacement of existing bridges and culverts; riprap revetments; the emergency storm permit; and riprap sills. This agreement also applies to all minor development activity that is exempt under the DWQ riparian buffer rules’ Table of Uses. 

The agreement does not apply to projects that require an individual 401 water quality certification or a non-404 wetlands and waters permit.

DWQ staff will continue to track and report authorizations and will offer technical assistance to DCM’s permitting staff when requested. 

Riparian buffer protection programs were established by the N.C. Division of Water Quality for the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico River basins in the year 2000, and are intended to limit activities in vegetated areas adjacent to surface waters in these basins to maintain their nutrient removal functions.

Southeast governors announce formation of South Atlantic Alliance

Governors of four Southeastern states recently announced an agreement to work together to better manage and protect ocean and coastal resources, ensure regional economic sustainability and respond to disasters such as hurricanes.
The agreement establishes an alliance among North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia. The South Atlantic Alliance will leverage resources from each state to protect and maintain healthy coastal ecosystems, keep waterfronts working, enhance clean ocean and coastal waters and help make communities more resilient after they’ve been struck by natural disasters. 

The alliance was signed by North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.

“All four governors realize that we are facing considerable challenges to sustain our coastal resources for future generations,” said North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue. “This alliance will enable us to work together to protect our ocean environment and the health and economic well-being of the people dependent on those resources.”

This Governors’ South Atlantic Alliance is a state-led partnership leveraging resources from the public and private sectors, business and industry communities, local governments, federal agencies, academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations to address regional priorities. 

All of the governors welcomed the agreement as an example of the ability to discuss and act regionally on common issues paramount to the South’s economic vitality and quality of life.

DCM announces new blog, CAMA Lines

The Division of Coastal Management is pleased to introduce a new blog, CAMA Lines. A link to the blog is also available from front page of the division’s Web site.

We hope the blog will be a useful way to keep you up to date on issues regarding the division and the N.C. Coastal Reserve Program. It will be updated frequently, so please check back often.

DCM holds public meeting regarding Masonboro Island Reserve, considers management options to control holiday partying

A public meeting to discuss options for addressing use of the Masonboro Island Coastal Reserve was held Oct. 8 at the UNC-Wilmington Center for Marine Science. The meeting was well attended by local residents, who overwhelmingly asked the division not to punish them for the actions of a few people who abuse the island on summer holiday weekends, particularly July 4.

Hope Sutton, the Southern sites reserve manager, began the meeting with a presentation about the reserve, the reserve’s goals for education, stewardship and research, and an overview of the reserve’s rules. Reserve Program Manager Rebecca Ellin then moderated a public input session, which included several comments about how to manage holiday crowds, including suggestions for a permit system, increased law enforcement presence, and educating local university students.

The meeting attendees also expressed concern about recent enforcement of dog leash laws on the island. 
“The law regarding keeping dogs on a leash is a New Hanover County law,” Ellin said at the meeting. “It is not a new reserve rule that is being enforced.  The county has recently chosen to enforce the leash law more vigorously on Masonboro.” 

One course of action that is being seriously considered is to increase law enforcement presence on Masonboro Island during summer holidays, when we encounter the most problems with large crowds and the litter they leave behind. DCM will be working with local law enforcement agencies, as well as other state agencies, to accomplish this objective.

DCM is also currently considering an amendment to Coastal Reserve rules that would prohibit possession and consumption of alcohol and other controlled substances on all ten Coastal Reserve properties. Such a rule would outline the Division’s position regarding alcohol abuse on Reserve property, and would provide another enforcement tool for law enforcement agencies to address problems as needed. 

However, no action on this rule has been taken by the division, other than speaking with the Reserve Local Advisory Committees and the Coastal Resources Commission to gain their input on the proposal. Any proposed rule changes will be announced publicly, with ample opportunity for public input.

N.C. Coastal Reserves celebrate National Estuaries Day/National Public Lands Day Sept. 26 

Estuaries Day

Volunteer Meg Luthor mans the Reserve display board.

North Carolina's estuarine system is the third largest in the country, encompassing more than two million acres. This vast natural resource is the heartbeat of North Carolina’s coastal and ocean ecosystems, interlinking the state’s economy and culture. What better way to encourage public stewardship of estuaries than to spread the word about these treasures during a nationwide celebration? 

On Sept. 26, the coastal reserve commemorated National Estuaries Day and National Public Lands Day with education and outreach events held at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, N.C. and at the Kitty Hawk Heritage Day Festival in Kitty Hawk. The day’s activities began with a Big Sweep clean-up of the Rachel Carson Reserve – the complex of islands just across Taylor’s Creek from downtown Beaufort, and continued with nature hikes and boat tours around the Rachel Carson Reserve. 

The highlight of the education exhibits in both Beaufort and Kitty Hawk was a chance to get an up-close look at the life found within an estuary. Gathered around microscopes (for viewing preserved specimens) and a touch tank of colorful estuarine plants and animals, people of all ages were enchanted by the unique assemblage of featured sea life. Kids jumped up and down and squealed with delight as sea squirts dowsed them with salty water. Many adults were excited to learn something new about something so familiar; for example, Downeast conch chowder – an eastern Carolina favorite – isn’t made from conchs, but from one of three species of whelk. From hermit crabs to soft corals, and from purple urchins to the marine invertebrate called “sea pork,” hands-on education with these fascinating specimens was a huge hit!

Both National Estuaries and Public Lands Day provided a timely opportunity for the N.C. Coastal Reserve staff and volunteers to teach the public about the reserve itself, the uniqueness and importance of estuaries, and stewardship as a way to protect and enhance North Carolina’s vital coastal treasures.

National Estuaries Day is an annual celebration of estuaries, the vibrant coastal areas where rivers meet the sea. To learn more, visit Sept. 26 was also National Public Lands Day, the nation’s largest hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance public lands.

Public meetings on N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve scheduled

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will hold two public meetings in December to receive comments on the operation and management of the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve.

The federal agency is holding the meetings in conjunction with its periodic review of the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve and its four sites: Currituck Banks on the Outer Banks, Rachel Carson near Beaufort, and Masonboro Island and Zeke’s Island near Wilmington.

Each meeting will begin at 7 p.m. The schedule follows:

  • Dec. 8 – UNC-Wilmington, Center for Marine Science Auditorium, 5600 Marvin K. Moss Lane, Wilmington, N.C.

  • Dec. 9 – NOAA/NCNERR Administration Building Auditorium, Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research, 101 Pivers Island Road, Beaufort, N.C.

Written comments may be sent to Gregory Gervais, NOAA/NOS/OCRM, 1305 East-West Highway, N/ORM7, Silver Spring, MD 20910, or via e-mail to, no later than Dec. 28.

For additional information, contact N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve manager Rebecca Ellin at (252) 838-0880.

Coastal Training Program to focus on species management

Southeast Regional Diamondback Terrapin Workshop
On Dec. 3 in Wilmington the Coastal Training Programs from North Carolina, ACE Basin, Sapelo Island, and North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserves and the Southeastern Diamondback Terrapin Working Group will host a second regional workshop highlighting the status of diamondback terrapin research, management and education in the Southeast. The meeting will serve to update attendees on the recent accomplishments and specific needs of the region, as well as continue to facilitate networking within and between states in the Southeast. Presentation topics will include: population and physiology research; crab trap clean-up and bycatch reduction education programs; outreach efforts to reduce terrapin road mortality; and gaps in policies for terrapin protection.

Southeastern North Carolina Red Fox Symposium
On Jan. 19-20, 2010, the reserve will host a symposium in Wilmington to discuss management options for red foxes. Red foxes have a huge impact on local environments, preying on sea turtle nests and colonial nesting waterbirds. This symposium will bring together resource managers who deal with the impact of red foxes on the habitats and species they protect; and will include information regarding red fox life history, hunting and trapping regulations, recent impacts to turtle and bird resources, and current management approaches. The discussion will focus on strategies for public education, developing new management approaches, and identifying research needs. Work groups will be developed to move forward on priority research, management, and education strategies.

2010 CRC meetings

Jan. 13-15

North Raleigh Hilton (CRC meeting Jan. 13, Sea Level Rise Science Forum Jan.14-15), Raleigh, N.C.

Feb. 17

New Hanover County Government Complex

Mar. 24-26

Sea Trail, Sunset Beach, N.C.


Oct. 2009 Coastal Resources Commission Actions

At its Oct. 2009 meeting, the CRC:

  • Approved an Implementation and Enforcement Plan for the Town of River Bend. The plan allows the town to act as the local permit-letting authority for activities related to minor development within Areas of Environmental Concern.

  • Voted that utility-grade wind energy facilities should be considered water dependent under CRC rules.

  • Certified a Land Use Plan Amendment for Brunswick County. 

  • Certified a Land Use Plan for the Town of Swansboro.

  • Certified a Land Use Plan for the City of Havelock.

  • Certified a Land Use Plan for Craven County.

  • Granted a variance to the Town of Caswell Beach, who sought relief from the Commission’s oceanfront setback rule in order to construct a wastewater treatment system for the town. The town could not meet the “large structure” setback for a section of pipeline needed for the system. 

  • Upheld an Administrative Law Judge’s ruling in the case of Taylor et al. v. DCM and TP Inc. The petitioners challenged the issuance of three CAMA minor permits to develop residences on three lots in Topsail Beach, partly on the basis that the first line of stable natural vegetation was not correctly judged as the vegetation had been watered and fertilized. After an extensive hearing, the ALJ concluded there was no basis to deny the permits.


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