CAMAgram - Spring 2003
CRC to consider updated erosion rates
Updated ocean-shoreline erosion rates to be presented to the Coastal Resources Commission at its April meeting are the most accurate the state has ever had, Division of Coastal Management staff say.
Coastal Management uses erosion rates in determining setbacks for oceanfront construction.
Coastal Management staff will present the CRC with maps showing erosion rates for the entire North Carolina oceanfront. The maps are based on a mosaic of aerial photography of the coast from 1998. The long-term average annual erosion rates were calculated by comparing the 1998 photographs with shoreline photography taken about 50 years ago.
The lag between when the 1998 photographs were taken and when the rates were calculated was the result of changing the method and technology used in updating the rates, said Steve Underwood, Coastal Management’s assistant director for policy and planning.
A company called Surdex digitized the photographs, and the Kenan Natural Hazards Mapping Program at N.C. State University did the shoreline-change determinations. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the N.C. Division of Emergency Management and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration funded the project.
“This update incorporated a number of significant improvements and other changes that make it the most accurate shoreline erosion rate study we have had to date,” said Steve Benton, coastal hazards specialist with Coastal Management.
Of the 312 miles of shoreline mapped, the 1998 update showed long-term average annual erosion rates of 2 feet per year along 193 miles of shoreline. Of this figure, 99 miles of shoreline had accreted, or gained, sand.
The amount of severely eroding shoreline – areas with erosion rates greater than 5 feet a year – decreased from 21 percent of the coast in 1992 to 18 percent in 1998.
“The bad news is that many of the highly eroding areas have had significant increases in their erosion rate from 1992 to 1998,” Benton said. “This has increased the mean erosion rate factor from 3.8 feet a year in 1992 to 4.3 feet a year in 1998.”
The new erosion rate maps will be a stark contrast to previous versions, which were line drawings that showed streets and the shoreline, but not much more.
The new maps are more detailed and easier to read, Underwood said. “Somebody can see their lot or house on the map and find out the erosion rate for the stretch of beach in front of it,” he said. The new maps also will be available on Coastal Management’s Web site.
If the CRC gives preliminary approval to the rates, hearings to receive public input on them will be scheduled this summer in each of the eight coastal counties with ocean shoreline. The CRC could give final approval to the rates in October; they would take effect in August 2004 following review by the state Rules Review Commission and the General Assembly.
Erosion rates have long played a key role in determining setbacks for oceanfront construction. Setbacks are measured from the first line of stable natural vegetation. For single-family residences, the setback distance is determined by multiplying the average annual erosion rate by 30. The minimum setback is 60 feet from the vegetation line.
For larger structures, such as condominiums and hotels, the distance is determined by multiplying the average annual erosion rate by 60. The minimum setback distance is 120 feet.
Changes to CAMA rules allow more use of general permits; revisions took effect April 1
Property owners on the sound side of thin barrier islands will be able to get Coastal Area Management Act permits for routine construction, such as piers and docks, more quickly.
Rule changes that took effect April 1 allow soundfront property owners whose land also falls within the Ocean Hazard Area of Environmental Concern (AEC) to apply for CAMA general permits for certain types of construction. The Coastal Resources Commission adopted the changes last year.
Previously, rules largely prohibited the use of CAMA general permits in the Ocean Hazard AEC, an environmentally sensitive area that typically encompasses land close to the ocean and around inlets. On thin barrier islands, however, the Ocean Hazard AEC can extend from ocean to sound. This situation prevented sound-side property owners from using general permits for traditional structures routinely permitted along sounds, such as piers, docks, bulkheads and riprap. Instead, property owners had to apply for a CAMA major permit, which costs more and takes longer to process than a general permit.
“The changes will allow property owners to obtain permits for these projects more quickly, without compromising coastal resources,” said Charles Jones, assistant director for permits and enforcement with the Division of Coastal Management.
The rule changes will be most applicable on the Brunswick County barrier islands and Topsail Island, where the distance between the ocean and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is short, Jones said.
The following CAMA rule amendments also took effect April 1:
Information about the rules is available online atwww.nccoastalmanagement.net/Rules/2003.htm, or by calling the nearest Coastal Management office: Elizabeth City, 252-264-3901; Morehead City, 252-808-2808; Washington, 252-946-6481; Wilmington, 910-395-3900.
Longtime CRAC member Rosetta Short dies
Rosetta Short, an outspoken advocate for coastal-resource protection during her 27 years on the state Coastal Resources Advisory Council, died Feb. 17 after a battle with cancer. She was 74.
The Oak Island resident had represented coastal cities on the CRAC since 1976, making her the longest-serving member of the council. The 45-member CRAC provides the Coastal Resources Commission with local government perspectives and technical advice.
“Rosetta provided outstanding service to the state, and I am grateful for her dedication to protecting our valuable coastal environment,” Gov. Mike Easley said.
Earlier in February, Easley and the CRC honored Short for her service to the state. CRC Chairman Gene Tomlinson and Donna Moffitt, director of the Division of Coastal Management, presented Short with certificates of appreciation from the governor, the commission and council.
“Rosetta served with distinction,” Tomlinson said. “She never hesitated to speak out forcefully on issues that she felt were basic to the protection of coastal resources. We will miss her.”
A former fashion model, Short moved to Oak Island in 1972. She was a real estate agent and was elected to the Oak Island Town Council in 2001. She also served on the Brunswick County Board of Realtors, which recognized her with its Lifetime Achievement Award shortly before her death.
In the late 1970s, Short served on the Long Beach Planning Board and helped develop the town’s first CAMA land-use plan.
Short was the widow of Verdell Short. She is survived by a son, Michael Short of New Mexico; two daughters, Elaine Tucker-Haviland and Stormy George, both of Virginia; eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Four new faces on Coastal Resources Commission
There were several new faces at the Coastal Resources Commission’s table during the group’s January meeting in Kill Devil Hills.
That’s because Gov. Mike Easley had recently appointed four new members to the CRC: Renee Cahoon of Nags Head, Joan L. Weld of Currie, Robert O. “Bob” Wilson of Mooresville and Lee Wynns of Colerain.
Easley reappointed CRC members Bob Emory of New Bern, Courtney Hackney of Wilmington and Larry Pittman Sr. of Morehead City.
Cahoon works at R.V. Cahoon Inc., retail sales and rentals, and serves as a Dare County commissioner. She was mayor of Nags Head from 1991 to 2000. Cahoon received her associate’s degree in science from Louisburg College and did further undergraduate studies in biology at East Carolina University. She is serving in one of the CRC’s local government seats.
Weld retired as chief of staff to Gov. Jim Hunt in 1999. She previously served as assistant secretary in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Weld serves on the board of trustees for the North Carolina chapters of The Nature Conservancy and the National Audubon Society. She serves on the board of counselors of the Conservation Trust for North Carolina and the Museum of Natural Sciences’ advisory commission. Weld received her bachelor’s degree in biological science education from Ohio State University. She represents conservation organizations on the CRC.
Wilson is the owner and chief executive officer of The Rowboat Company. He is the former director of the Jimmy Carter Work Project with Habitat for Humanity. Wilson has drafted and supervised the performance of wetlands mitigation policies for DENR. He serves on the executive board for the United Way of Central Carolinas and is a trustee of the Lake Norman Regional Hospital. Wilson received bachelor’s degrees in business and economics from UNC-Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead Scholar. He is serving in an at-large seat on the CRC.
Wynns has been the president of Perry Wynns Fish Co. since 1980. He served as the mayor of Colerain from December 1993 to November 2001 and was a member of the Bertie County School Board. He is a member of the Colerain Lion’s Club and the local board of directors for RBC Centura Bank. Wynns received his bachelor’s degree in science teaching and his master’s of education from UNC-Chapel Hill. He represents commercial fishing on the CRC.
The 15-member CRC sets policies and guidelines for development, natural-resource protection and land-use planning in the 20 coastal counties and enforces the Coastal Area Management Act. The governor appoints all 15 members, 12 of whom must have experience in specific coastal or local government issues, and three who serve in at-large seats. Members serve four-year terms.
DENR launching effort to educate public about Coastal Habitat Protection Plan
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is launching an effort to educate the public about the state’s plan for protecting coastal fisheries habitats.
The 1997 Fisheries Reform Act requires DENR to prepare a Coastal Habitat Protection Plan (CHPP) for adoption by the Coastal Resources, Environmental Management and Marine Fisheries commissions.
“For the plan to be effective, it is critically important that the public be involved in its development,” said Mike Lopazanski, an ocean-policy analyst with the Division of Coastal Management. The division is funding the public outreach effort through a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The goals of the outreach effort are to make the public aware of the CHPP; educate citizens about the reasons for the plan; solicit public suggestions on management options to be included in the plan; and include the public in evaluating management recommendations developed from the options.
The outreach effort will consist of public meetings across the state this summer; a newspaper insert to be distributed to 250,000 households in the coastal region in June; a short video to air on cable TV stations and at public meetings; and informational brochures. More information about the meetings will appear in the summer issue of CAMAgram.
An advisory committee consisting of members of the three commissions and representatives of state and local government is guiding the outreach effort.
For information about the CHPP, go towww.ncdmf.net.
Raleigh DCM office to move?
For the third time in four years, the General Assembly has raised the issue of moving the Division of Coastal Management’s Raleigh office to one or more coastal counties.
Legislation calling for the move has not been introduced, but Rep. Bill Owens of Elizabeth City has asked Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Bill Ross to relocate the office. If the relocation goes forward, some positions could move as early as this year.
Last year, the Senate’s version of the state budget contained a provision calling for the move. The provision did not appear in the final budget.
In 2000, the legislature requested a study of the feasibility of relocating the office. The study, conducted by the Office of State Budget and Management, concluded that, based on costs, relocating the Raleigh office was not feasible. The study found that the cost of relocating the Raleigh staff would be as much as $650,000.
Grants for pump-out stations available
Operators of marinas and other boat docks are encouraged to apply for grants to help pay for marine sewage pump-out and dump stations.
The N.C. Pumpout and Dump Station Grant Program provides funding to private and commercial marinas, gas/service docks, fish houses/seafood dealers and other boat-docking facilities for the installation or renovation of pump-out and dump stations in the 20 coastal counties.
Matching grants of up to $10,000 are available. Recipients must provide at least 25 percent of the project cost.
“I am confident that this program will continue to make pump-out and dump stations more accessible to recreational boaters and marina operators, and help eliminate marine sewage as a source of pollution from our waters,” said Donna Moffitt, director of Coastal Management.
Forecasters differ on number of named storms in Atlantic
Two leading hurricane forecasters disagree on the number of named Atlantic storms that will form this year.
Hurricane forecaster William Gray of Colorado State University says the 2003 Atlantic hurricane season could be busier than normal because of the end of the weather event known as El Nino. Gray’s forecast calls for 12 named storms, with eight becoming hurricanes. He also said three of the hurricanes would be major, with top sustained winds above 111 mph. Gray released his most recent forecast in April.
The Weather Research Center, a private firm based in Houston, predicted in March that the season would be slightly less active than normal, with eight named storms, six of them growing into hurricanes. The center did not predict how many storms would reach major status.
The average is 10 named storms, six hurricanes. Hurricane season goes from June 1 to Nov. 30.
Gray said there was a 68 percent chance a major hurricane would strike the U.S. mainland this year. The Weather Research Center said there was a 64 percent chance a hurricane would make landfall on the East Coast above Florida.
The 2002 hurricane season produced 12 named storms and four hurricanes, two of them major. Scientists attributed the low number of hurricanes to El Nino, a warm-water phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean that sparks dramatic weather events worldwide but tends to inhibit the number and strength of hurricanes.
One storm threatened the North Carolina coast last year. Subtropical Storm Gustav knocked out power and dumped up to 6 inches of rain on the Outer Banks in September, before reaching hurricane strength in the open Atlantic.
Coastal Nonpoint Source Program sponsors workshops on sediment runoff
Grading contractors, bulldozer operators and others in the business of clearing land along the coast recently learned about ways to curb sediment runoff on the job.
This winter, the state’s Coastal Nonpoint Source (NPS) Program sponsored workshops to educate businesses about regulations and safe land-clearing practices. The free, daylong workshops focused on the state’s Sedimentation Pollution Control Act, erosion control practices, and federal and state water quality regulations and buffer requirements. The workshops, held in Manteo, Washington, Morehead City and Bolivia, also included a session on estimating erosion control costs.
The state Division of Land Resources’ Clear Water Contractor Training Program, an initiative that has been popular in Western North Carolina, conducted the seminars. “I heard about it and thought it would be good to take to the coast,” said Gloria Putnam, coordinator of the state’s Coastal NPS Program. “It consists of a lot of practical information.”
At the workshop’s conclusion, participants were certified as clear water contractors, earning them inclusion in the Clear Water Contractor list, and allowing them to use a special logo in their marketing efforts.
The Coastal NPS Program is a cooperative effort of the divisions of Coastal Management and Water Quality. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides funding for the program.
Other agencies involved in the workshops were the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program and the N.C. State University Cooperative Extension Service.
Program targets pier litter
The Division of Coastal Management is helping N.C. Big Sweep tackle litter problems at commercial fishing piers.
Last year, Big Sweep placed educational signs and brochures at Kure Beach Pier, Surf City Pier, Bogue Inlet Pier at Emerald Isle, and the Oceana, Sportsman’s and Triple S piers at Atlantic Beach.
The program has expanded this year, with signs placed at Center Pier at Carolina Beach, Johnnie Mercer’s Pier at Wrightsville Beach, Sound Pier at Topsail Beach, and Sea View Pier at North Topsail Beach.
The signs call attention to trash commonly found around piers: discarded fishing line, plastic drink bottles, Styrofoam cups and cigarette butts.
In addition, pocket ashtrays and educational brochures about problems caused by discarded fishing line have been distributed in tackle shops at the piers.
Coastal Management helped pay for some of the educational materials with grant money from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Additional funding for the project has come from The Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C., and Phillip Morris USA.
N.C. Big Sweep plans to expand the program again this year to include piers along the Outer Banks, said Mike Lopazanski, ocean-policy analyst with Coastal Management.
“This was a great opportunity for DCM to partner with nonprofits and private industry to address a problem in a way that can have immediate positive results,” he said.
Natural Heritage Program has new home
The N.C. Natural Heritage Program, which inventories and helps preserve rare plants, animals and important natural habitats, has a new home.
In February, the program moved within the Department of Environment and Natural Resources from the Division of Parks and Recreation to the Office of Conservation and Community Affairs.
The purpose of the move was to enable the Natural Heritage Program to deliver its considerable expertise and services as directly and quickly as possible to Gov. Mike Easley’s One North Carolina Naturally initiative, DENR Secretary Bill Ross said.
“Through the One North Carolina Naturally initiative, we hope to make North Carolina’s land and water conservation efforts more coordinated, better focused and more effective,” he said. “The move will enhance the program’s ability to share its knowledge and expertise with other agencies and organizations in and out of state government, and will allow the continued effective operation of the Natural Heritage Trust Fund by the board of trustees and program staff.”
The Division of Coastal Management often applies for grants from the trust fund to help the N.C. Coastal Reserve Program conserve land.
The One North Carolina Naturally initiative likely will include three areas of emphasis:
The Natural Heritage Program had been housed in the Division of Parks and Recreation since the program’s creation in 1976.
'Partnerships in Conservation' Conference is April 16 and 17 in Raleigh
The One North Carolina Naturally initiative will roll out a draft of its plan for conserving land and water during a conference April 16 and 17 at the Raleigh Convention Center.
The purpose of the conference is to bring together local elected officials, town and county managers, planners, state legislators and the public to learn about this new statewide initiative that will guide North Carolina’s future conservation efforts, said Richard Rogers, director of conservation and community affairs with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
“We’re at a critical juncture in our state’s history,” Rogers said. “We want to show that conservation of our natural resources is critical for our survival as a state, not only from a standpoint of habitat protection, but also for economic development and tourism purposes.
“We have to sustain those resources in order to progress and manage the population growth that’s coming.”
Titled “Partnerships in Conservation,” the conference will feature speeches and presentations as well as exhibits by state agencies and conservation groups that are working to protect land and water throughout North Carolina. Speakers will include Gov. Mike Easley and DENR Secretary Bill Ross.
The conference follows up on a series of regional meetings DENR held last fall to gather input on the conservation plan.
About 20 organizations, including businesses and conservation groups, have signed on as conference sponsors.
The conference schedule is below:
Wednesday, April 16
Thursday, April 17
Additional information on the conference and One North Carolina Naturally is available online atwww.enr.state.nc.us/officeofconservation/index.html.
Vinson retiring as DCM's planning and public access manager
Kathy Vinson, who has helped coastal local governments develop land-use plans and public access facilities for the past 15 years, is retiring from the Division of Coastal Management. Her last day of work will be April 25.
Though Vinson will be leaving her post as planning and public access manager, she will still be working with local governments. She is going to work for Blue: Land, Water, Infrastructure, an environmental consulting firm. Vinson will organize and manage the firm’s land-use planning section.
Leaving Coastal Management will be like leaving family, Vinson said, but she welcomes the challenge of her new position. “I’m real excited, because it’s an opportunity to help implement the land-use planning program we’ve worked so hard to revise at Coastal Management,” she said.
Vinson has worked in state government for 29 years, starting in 1974 as a rehabilitation counselor at the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh. in 1979, she joined what was then the Department of Natural Resources and Community Development as an employment planner. She later started the department’s federally funded program to help displaced workers.
In 1988, Vinson applied to be the district planner in Coastal Management’s Morehead City office. Her knowledge of grants programs and procedures helped land her the job. “I talked my way into it,” she joked. She was promoted to her current position, overseeing the division's planning and public access programs, in 2000.
During her 15 years at Coastal Management, Vinson said she has seen local governments begin to embrace the Coastal Area Management Act land-use planning program. “We’ve got a very good program in place,” she said. “There will always be areas where we can make improvements, but we’ve made many giant steps forward in coastal land-use planning in the last 15 years.
“I used to go to local governments and ask to talk with their council about land-use planning,” she said. “They were nice but I think they felt that, if they humored me, I’d make my presentation and just go away. Now, I get calls from local governments asking me when they can begin work on their plan. They are excited, and they embrace planning.”
Linda Staab, planning director for Morehead City, has seen that evolution first-hand. “In the beginning, the CAMA plan was just something you did every five years and put it on the shelf,” she said. “Through Kathy’s pursuit to educate us about the uses of the CAMA land-use plan, we became more versed in the positive benefits of using it on a day-to-day basis.”
Staab said two of Vinson’s best attributes were her receptiveness to local governments’ ideas about planning and public access, and her willingness to help them achieve their goals. “If there was a roadblock that was put up, she would help us move through that,” Staab said. “She has been a friend to local governments.”
Volunteers clear trail at Currituck Banks
Work has begun on a maritime forest hiking trail at Currituck Banks Estuarine Reserve near Corolla.
Volunteers helped N.C. Coastal Reserve staff clear the 3/4-mile trail and dig postholes for trail markers in February.
The trail winds through the maritime forest, which includes a lot of loblolly pines and oak trees. The trail ends in a stand of tall trees that form a canopy over the path, said site manager Michele Droszcz. The end of the trail provides a view of Currituck Sound.
“It’s a primitive maritime hiking trail,” Droszcz said. “There’s the possibility of ticks and snakes and stuff. But it’s a really nice, flat walk.”
People can access the trail from the Currituck Banks boardwalk. Droszcz will soon build steps from the boardwalk to the trail. Eventually, additional paths will spur from the maritime forest trail and lead through the reserve to the ocean beach, she said.
The 960-acre Currituck Banks Reserve is located off Highway 12 just north of Corolla. It is one of 10 sites in the N.C. Coastal Reserve Program.
Caroline Bellis, state and federal consistency coordinator in the Raleigh office, has transferred to the Wilmington office to be a field representative.
Charles Jones, assistant director for permits and enforcement in the Morehead City office, was a presenter at a series of workshops for coastal real estate agents in February. N.C. Sea Grant sponsored the workshops.
Special Deputy Attorney GeneralJill Hickeyis the Coastal Resources Commission’s new counsel. She previously worked on water quality issues in the Attorney General’s Office. Hickey succeedsRyke Longest, who is administering the state’s animal waste agreement with Smithfield Foods.
The Raleigh office has filled several vacant positions:
Public Information OfficerBrian Longand his wife,Bonnie,are the proud parents of a daughter,Chloe, born March 27.
North Carolina will get nearly $57,650,000 in the 2003 federal budget to continue deepening the Wilmington Port and protect beaches and waterways. “In this difficult budget time, this is great news for our port, beaches, and waterways,” U.S. Rep.Mike McIntyre, who represents southeastern North Carolina, said in a statement. “Our beaches and waterways are absolutely critical to our tourism and fishing industry, which are economic engines for our region.” The amount consists of $40 million to continue deepening the Wilmington Port, $15.5 million for inlet and port dredging projects, and almost $2.2 million for nourishment studies in Brunswick County and on Topsail Island. …
The National Ocean Service, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has released a new Web site that provides mean sea level rise rates for 117 sampling locations along the U.S. coast, including two sites in North Carolina – Beaufort and Wilmington. Go tohttp://www.co-ops.nos.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends.shtml. …
NOAA featured the Division of Coastal Management’s Web site in the February/March issue of Coastal Connections, a bimonthly newsletter for coastal resource managers. The issue focused on building effective Web sites and featured Coastal Management’s site as an example of one that is well organized and easy to navigate. …
Friends of an Emerald Isle man who died in a February house fire are raising money to rebuild a beach access in his memory.Roddy Chaney died of smoke inhalation in the fire. Organizers selected a walkway on Seagull Drive that the town already had planned to rebuild. Chaney, an avid surfer, used the access to get to the beach. Emerald Isle commissioners already had received a $14,325 grant from the Division of Coastal Management’s beach access program to help pay for the $19,000 project. The rebuilt site will have two handicap parking spaces and a bench overlooking the ocean. …
The Environmental Protection Agency is withdrawing a July 2000 regulation intended to revise the Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) program. The rule amended and clarified existing regulations for a section of the Clean Water Act that required states to identify waters not meeting applicable water quality standards and to establish TMDLs to restore the quality of those waters. The rule never took effect because Congress barred its implementation. Several organizations also filed lawsuits challenging the rule’s validity. EPA is withdrawing the rule because the agency believes that significant changes would be needed before it could represent a workable framework for an efficient and effective TMDL program. The withdrawal should be official on April 17.