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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Coastal Management - Spring 08

Coastal Management

CAMAgram - Spring 2008

N.C. Coastal Management Begins Inventory of Coastal Sandbag Structures

The N.C. Division of Coastal Management has begun a detailed inventory of sandbag structures protecting oceanfront property in North Carolina. The inventory will be used to prioritize the removal of certain sandbag structures that are subject to a May 2008 removal date.

A N.C. Coastal Resources Commission rule passed in 2000 allowed property owners in communities actively pursuing beach nourishment to keep their sandbags for five years from the date of installation or until May 1, 2008, whichever is later. With that deadline imminent, the Division of Coastal Management understands that oceanfront property owners have some questions about this rule and what must happen to their sandbag structures in May.

Affected property owners are those with sandbag permits whose homes are located in communities that were actively seeking beach nourishment as of Oct. 1, 2001.  The Coastal Area Management Act permit authorizing the sandbag structure for a given property specifies the date when the sandbags must be removed.

Sandbag structures in communities not considered to be actively pursuing beach nourishment may remain in place for up to two years for small structures, and up to five years for large structures.

“I want to stress that the May deadline does not affect every sandbag on the coast,” said DCM Director Jim Gregson, “nor are we banning sandbags in North Carolina. This action affects a certain subset of structures – approximately 150 of the 370 total sandbag structures in N.C. – that in many instances have been in place much longer than the 2-year to 5-year time frame in which they are normally allowed. The Division will take a phased approach to enforcing this deadline, beginning with the sandbag inventory.”

Sandbags that are covered with both sand and stable, natural vegetation will be allowed to remain in place until such time as they are uncovered by a storm or other event. The DCM inventory will determine which sandbag structures can remain and which must be removed. DCM will notify by mail property owners whose sandbags are subject to removal. Property owners will have 30 days from the notification date to remove the sandbags from their property.

The Coastal Resources Commission’s sandbag rules were written to allow property owners to temporarily protect imminently threatened oceanfront structures. The CRC limits the amount of time that sandbags may be used to protect a structure, because the Commission must also protect access to the public beach. Sandbags that are left in place too long can block beach access. Sandbags also can be harmful to the nesting habitats of endangered species, such as sea turtles. Over time, sandbags actually can worsen erosion at neighboring properties. When this happens, sandbags become as harmful as the seawalls the State has banned since 1985.

CRC to conduct public hearings for setback rule changes

The Coastal Resources Commission and the Division of Coastal Management will hold five public hearings in July to gain public input on changes to the oceanfront setback rules.

At its January meeting, the CRC voted to send revised rules governing oceanfront-building setbacks back to public hearing, citing changes made to the proposed rules since the last public hearing in November.

The changes include removing covered porches from the calculation of a structure’s total square footage, and increasing to 2,500 square feet the square footage limitation for construction in areas that receive a static line exception. The changes also treat infrastructure (e.g., roads and utility lines) as small structures, which would subject them to a maximum setback factor of 30 times the erosion rate, rather than the more restrictive setback factor of 60 times the erosion rate.

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. Setbacks are measured from the first line of stable, natural vegetation.

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 following schedule has not been finalized, and is subject to change. Any changes will be posted on the DCM web site.

Proposed public hearing schedule for 15A NCAC 7H .0306 General Use Standards for Ocean Hazard Areas:

Monday, July 7
Onslow/Pender Counties, Surf City Community Center, 201 Community Center Drive, Surf City

Tuesday, July 8
New Hanover County, Carolina Beach Town Hall, 1121 N. Lake Park Blvd, Carolina Beach

Monday, July 14
Brunswick County, Brunswick County Association of REALTORS Meeting Facility, 101 Stone Chimney Road, Supply

Tuesday, July 15
Carteret County, NOAA/NC Coastal Reserve Auditorium, 101 Pivers Island, Beaufort

Wednesday, July 16
Dare/Currituck County, Kill Devil Hills Town Hall (“The Meeting Room”), 102 Town Hall Drive, Kill Devil Hills

Thursday, July 24 - 5 p.m. Public Hearing
Wake County, Holiday Inn Brownstone Hotel, 1707 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh

N.C. Coastal Management conducts training for 79 Local Permit Officers

The Division of Coastal Management recently held two training workshops for Local Permit Officers in the 20 coastal counties. Seventy-nine LPOs attended the training, held in April.

Cooperative State and local government programs were an important component of the original Coastal Area Management Act.  Locally adopted Implementation and Enforcement Plans allow local governments to process CAMA Minor Permits in-house, giving them an active role in the management of the coastal resources within their jurisdictions, as well as providing an additional public service to their citizens.

“These joint training sessions are a vital way for Coastal Management staff to work directly with local government representatives to provide guidance on coastal management issues,” said Ted Tyndall, DCM’s assistant director for permits and enforcement. “It is a testament to how valuable these sessions are that so many LPOs take time out of their busy schedules to attend each year.”

The agenda for the two-day workshops included updates on recent changes to Coastal Resources Commission rules and training in the permit process, as well as monitoring and enforcement. DCM staff also conducted interactive field training in staking Normal High Water and Normal Water Levels and identifying coastal wetlands.

Rachel Carson coastal reserve honors volunteers

Volunteers with the Rachel Carson component of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve were honored for their service with an appreciation lunch on Thursday, April 24.  The volunteers bring a wide variety of skills, including leading public field trips, clean-ups, bird identification consulting and boat assistance. 

“We really depend on our volunteers to help educate and inform visitors to the Reserve, especially during the busy summer months,” said Coastal Reserve Manager Rebecca Ellin. “Their support is invaluable.”

Those honored on Thursday were Pat and Bob Rapaport, Bruce McCutcheon, Mike Bertino, Ann Goellner, John Fussell, John Davis, Meg Luther, Ron McComas, Paul Dunn, Sharon Owens, and Paige Clark with the Outer Banks Chapter of the Mother/Daughter Charity League.  The Carolina Estuarine Reserve Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the Reserve, provided lunch for the event.

Rachel Carson Reserve sponsors summer public field trips 

Public Field Trips on the Rachel Carson National Estuarine Research Reserve occur Memorial Day through Labor Day, usually on Tuesday and Thursday of every week.  All programs are open and free to the public but reservations are required as boat space is limited.  Call 252-838-0883 to make reservations or for more information.

We offer two types of field trips, a nature hike and a boardwalk trip, which are determined by the tides. Nature hikes occur during low tides, when the most amount of land is exposed on the island. Boardwalk trips occur at high tide, when the water is high enough in the estuary for our 24’ skiff to easily navigate around the island to our boardwalk located on Carrot Island.

On the nature hike, be prepared to get your shoes wet and muddy. We require close-toed shoes because of the abundance of oysters on the island. You may also have the opportunity to swim on the nature hike, so dress accordingly. On both the nature hike and boardwalk trip, we encourage you to bring sunglasses, hats, binoculars, water and sunscreen.

The Field Trips are free of charge. We do accept donations for our non-profit organization, Carolina Estuarine Reserve Foundation (CERF).

June 2008   

June 3, Tuesday: Boardwalk trip from 8:30-10am

June 5, Thursday: Boardwalk trip from 8:30-10am

June 10, Tuesday: Nature hike from 8:30-10:30am

June 12, Thursday: Nature hike from 9-11am

June 17, Tuesday: Boardwalk trip from 8:30-10am

June 19, Thursday: Boardwalk trip from 8:30-10am

June 26, Thursday: Nature hike from 8-10am

July 2008   

July 1, Tuesday: Boardwalk trip from 8:30-10am

July 3, Thursday: Boardwalk trip from 8:30-10am

July 8, Tuesday: Nature hike from 8-10am

July 10, Thursday: Nature hike from 8-10am

July 15, Tuesday: Boardwalk trip from 8:30-10am

July 17, Thursday: Boardwalk trip from 8:30-10am

July 22, Tuesday: Boardwalk trip from 8:30-10am

July 24, Thursday: Nature hike from 8-10am

July 29, Tuesday: Nature hike from 9:30-11:30am

July 31, Thursday: Boardwalk trip from 8:30-10am

August 2008   

August 5, Tuesday: Nature hike from 8-10am

August 7, Thursday: Nature hike from 8-10am

August 12, Tuesday: Nature hike from 9:30-11:30am

August 14, Thursday: Boardwalk trip from 8:30-10am

August 19, Tuesday: Boardwalk trip from 8:30-10am

August 21, Thursday: Boardwalk trip from 8:30-10am

August 26, Tuesday: Nature hike from 9-11am

August 28, Thursday: Boardwalk trip from 8:30-10am

September 2008

September 2, Tuesday: Boardwalk trip from 8:30-10am

September 9, Thursday: Nature hike from 9-11am

September 16, Tuesday: Boardwalk trip from 8:30-10am

Rachel Carson Reserve hosts summer naturalist programs 

This summer the Rachel Carson Coastal Reserve will host a Junior Naturalist program for students in grades 4 through 8, along with two summer programs for younger students, from preschool through third grade.

Beginning June 18, the Junior Naturalist program will run Wednesdays through August 6, from 9-12 p.m. All classes will be held at the Reserve facility on Pivers Island in Beaufort. Students will conduct field investigations of estuaries. Activities will include marsh seining, water quality sampling, animal population studies, beach and marsh profiles, and phytoplankton identification.

Participants may register for all eight sessions for $100, or may register for individual classes at $15 per class. Priority will be given to those students registering for all eight sessions. All session registration is now open. Registration for individual classes begins on June 1. To register, contact Lori Davis at (252) 838-0883 or

The Reserve will also offer two summer opportunities for young students interested in estuarine studies. Preschool Storytime and Arts and Crafts will be held June 16, July 14 and August 11. All sessions are from 9-10 a.m. and are free of charge. Topics will include hermit crabs, jellyfish and snails. Adventures in the Estuary (1st - 3rd grade) will be held July 15, 17, 22 and 24. All sessions are from 9 a.m. -12 p.m. and will cost $40 for all four classes. Topics will include estuarine habitats, invertebrates, vertebrates, and plankton. For more information about these programs or to register, please call 252-838-0883. Space is limited so register early.


Seapath latest to be named N.C. Clean Marina

The Seapath Yacht Club in Wrightsville Beach is the most recent facility to be certified as a North Carolina Clean Marina. To earn the certification, the marina’s owners have prepared spill prevention plans, safety and emergency planning and strongly limit boat maintenance activities.

Clean Marina is a voluntary program that began in the summer of 2000. Marina operators who choose to participate must complete an evaluation form about their use of specific best management practices.

If a marina meets criteria developed by N.C. Marine Trades Services and the Division of Coastal Management, it will be designated as a Clean Marina. Such marinas are eligible to fly the Clean Marina flag and use the logo in their advertising. The flags signal to boaters that a marina cares about the cleanliness of area waterways.

Clean Marina is a nationwide program developed by the National Marine Environmental Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to clean up waterways for better recreational boating. The foundation encourages states to adapt Clean Marina principles to fit their own needs.

The N.C. Clean Marina program is a partnership between Marine Trades Services, the N.C. Marine Trade Association, the N.C. Division of Coastal Management, N.C. Sea Grant, the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program and N.C. Big Sweep.

For information about the program, contact Clean Marina coordinator Mike Lopazanski at 919-733-2293.


Briefly …

Clean Vessel Act grant
DCM will receive $251,440 to install 15 new pumpout facilities throughout the state's coastal waters this year.  These funds are part of more than $13.6 million in grants funding from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that will be awarded to 27 states under the Clean Vessel Act grant program in 2008. The grants can be used to fund the construction and installation of sewage pumpout facilities and floating restrooms, to purchase pumpout boats and for educational programs for recreational boaters. 

Dr. Beach names best beaches
A North Carolina beach is once again counted among the nation’s best according to “Dr. Beach.”  Cape Hatteras ranked eighth on the annual list of America’s Best Beaches. The list is compiled by coastal researcherDr. Stephen Leatherman, also known as“Dr. Beach” Leatherman, a professor at Florida International University, ranks the nation’s 650 beaches using 50 criteria.

Above-average hurricane season predicted
Dr. William Gray of Colorado State University has predicted 15 named storms for the 2008 hurricane season, with eight expected to become hurricanes. Of those eight, four are expected to be major storms of category 3 or above.

2008 Hurricane Names

Staff news

Byron Toothman has joined the Wilmington Reserve staff as a research associate.  Byron comes to us from the UNCW-Center for Marine Science.  Byron has a Bachelors and Masters Degree from UNCW. 

Andrea Hale, a junior at UNC Chapel Hill, will be working this summer at the Rachel Carson National Estuarine Research Reserve in Beaufort as a Marine Science Education Intern. Andrea will assist the Reserve Education staff with summer marine science camps, field trips and classroom activities. 

Congratulations toJoshShepherd,information systems manager in the Raleigh Office, and his wife Wendy, on the birth of daughter Addison Grier May 21.

Two DCM staff members were recently married:

Woody Webster, site manager for the Buckridge coastal reserve, was married to Katie on May 17.

Robb Mairs, field representative in Wilmington, married Jessica, also on May 17.


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