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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Coastal Management - spring04

Coastal Management

CAMAgram - Spring 2004

Charles Jones named director of N.C. Coastal Management

Charles S. Jones, who has served as acting director of the Division of Coastal Management since late 2003, has been named the division’s new director.

Jones replaces Donna Moffitt, who has become the director of the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

“I'm looking forward to the challenge of leading DCM, and I hope I can provide positive leadership and direction to both the Division and the Coastal Resources Commission,” Jones said.

Jones was formerly assistant director for permits and enforcement for the division. He has worked for the agency since 1978.

A Beaufort native and lifelong coastal N.C. resident, Jones is a graduate of East Carolina University with a bachelor’s degree in geography/planning. He and his wife, Janie, who is director of the Carteret County Civic Center, live near Smyrna in Carteret County.
 

DCM staffers receive DOT Road Gang Award

Four Division of Coastal Management employees, along with members of the N.C. Division of Water Quality and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, recently received the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Road Gang Award in recognition of their outstanding professional contribution in environmental permitting, which assisted the N.C. Department of Transportation in delivering to the citizens the most successful project contracting year in the history of the state transportation department.

The Road Gang is the Secretary of Transportation's highest honor and is presented to retiring DOT employees or other notable transportation advocates. 

DOT Secretary Lyndo Tippett presented the awards at the DOT Board meeting on March 3. Charles Jones (DCM), Coleen Sullins (DWQ) and David Franklin (USACE) accepted the awards on behalf of the staff in their agencies. The following DCM staff received the award: Charles Jones, Doug Huggett, Bill Arrington and Cathy Brittingham.
 

Sea level rise workshop held in Beaufort

Scientists and coastal management experts from across the country gathered in Beaufort Feb. 4-5 for a workshop on the ecological effects of sea level rise. Sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research (CSCOR), the workshop’s goal was to begin identifying needed research that can help coastal managers and planners better prepare for changes in coastal ecosystems due to sea level rise.

Sea level rise is caused primarily by what’s known as the greenhouse effect – the earth’s average surface temperatures have been slowly rising over time. Most scientists attribute this to the phenomenon of global warming, which is caused by increases in greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide, methane and ozone into the atmosphere. Higher surface temperatures cause ocean water to expand and glacier ice to melt, which means our ocean waters are rising a little bit each year. Scientists and coastal managers believe that increases in average global temperature mixed with rapid development near coastal shorelines are setting the stage for increased flooding and erosion problems.

“Coastal planners need to begin weighing the impacts of future sea level rise when making land use decisions,” said Guy Stefanski, Strategic Planning manager for the N.C. Division of Coastal Management, “especially in vulnerable coastal wetlands, which are important habitat for a number of commercially valuable fish and shellfish.”

The CSCOR study of the localized effects of sea level rise will begin in North Carolina, with Coastal Management’s Strategic Planning Unit working with NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey, National Geodetic Service, and Center for Operational Products and Service to develop models and maps used to forecast the ecological impacts of sea level rise in the Pamlico Sound/Cape Lookout area.

“Eventually, we hope to develop a mapping product that will allow us to simulate sea level rise at different rates, so we can see what effects it might have down the road,” said Stefanski. “That information can be used to help coastal managers and planners decide which activities and land use practices should be encouraged or enforced to protect vulnerable natural areas.”
 

U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy Releases preliminary report

The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy issued its preliminary ocean policy report on April 20. The preliminary report is the work of a 16-member Commission mandated by the Oceans Act of 2000, authorized by Congress and appointed by the President. When Congress passed the Oceans Act of 2000, it acknowledged both the costs and the significance of the oceans and coasts to this country. The commission was created to develop recommendations for a new and comprehensive national ocean policy.

The nation’s governors and other stakeholders will review the preliminary report over the next few weeks and comment on its contents. Some of the actions recommended in the report are:

· Establish a National Ocean Council

· Strengthen NOAA and improve the federal agency structure

· Develop a process for creating regional ocean councils

· Double the nation’s investment in ocean research

· Increase attention to ocean education

· Strengthen the link between coastal and watershed management

· Create measurable water pollution reduction goals, and strengthen incentives, technical assistance and other management tools to reach those goals

The information and recommendations in this report are extremely important to North Carolina. Several state agencies, including the Division of Coastal Management, will be conducting a thorough review and evaluation of the 500-plus-page report to prepare the governor’s response.

Members of the public are also invited to comment on the report. To download a copy of the report and provide comments, visit the commission’s web site at www.oceancommission.gov.


NOAA leaders visit North Carolina for Earth Day celebration

Brigadier General Jack Kelly, Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) joined DENR Secretary Bill Ross at an Earth Day event at the Fort Fisher Aquarium April 22. Also attending was Capt. Samuel DeBow, Chief of the Hydrographic Surveys Division of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey.

Gen. Kelly addressed an audience at the aquarium on the importance of Earth Day and various NOAA initiatives to support coastal research.

“Earth Day is particularly significant to those of us who live in coastal areas,” Gen. Kelly said. “As protecting the environment becomes increasingly important, it also becomes more and more difficult in coastal regions as their populations continue to grow. Earth Day serves to magnify the importance of coastal areas, and gives us a chance to pause and think about where we’ve been and where we need to go from here.”

Following a tour of the aquarium, Gen. Kelly and Capt. DeBow viewed the Zeke’s Island Coastal Reserve site, where Research Biologist Paula May presented information about North Carolina’s System-wide Monitoring Program
 

Best Management Practices Manual for N.C. Marinas available online

Marina operators in North Carolina have a new tool to help them protect and improve the waters they depend on for their livelihood – Coastal Management has published a manual of best management practices for North Carolina marinas.

The Best Management Practices Manual for North Carolina Marinas includes information on stormwater management, shoreline stabilization, handling oil and hazardous waste, boat cleaning practices, and hurricane preparation, among other topics.

By adopting the best management practices outlined in the manual, marina operators can display their commitment to protecting our natural coastal resources, and make their facilities safer, healthier places to work, that will be more attractive to clients who care about a healthy environment.

The manual was developed by the Small Business and Technology Development Center – Marine Trade Services for Coastal Management and DENR’s Coastal Nonpoint Source Pollution Program.

New research of NOAA data uses metabolic rates to help determine the health of estuaries

New research using monitoring data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Estuarine Research Reserves examines metabolic rates as indicators of the health of estuaries. This is the largest and most geographically diverse study of its kind and is the first time a study on metabolic rates has been initiated in the shallow, near shore regions of the estuarine reserves, coastal areas where rivers meet the seas.

Included in the research is data from North Carolina’s four NERR sites: Currituck Banks, Rachel Carson, Masonboro Island and Zeke’s Island.

Conducted by scientist Jane Caffrey, Ph.D., the University of West Florida, the research provides an analysis of metabolic rates using identical measurements from the reserves. This research provides a baseline within specific United States estuaries that coastal managers can potentially use to evaluate changes in water quality and the reason for those changes.

“Ecosystem metabolism can be used as an indicator of an estuary’s health similar to using the human pulse rate to measure our own body’s health,” states Caffrey. “Ecosystem metabolism provides an index for the estuary’s health in three ways; the magnitude of production or consumption in the ecosystem, the seasonal changes in production and consumption, and the difference between production and consumption, which is called net ecosystem metabolism.”

Caffrey’s research found that production and respiration of plants in North Carolina estuaries peaks twice a year, in the spring and fall. The North Carolina sites also were the least heterotrophic of the Southeastern sites, meaning these sites had the least amount of plant material being consumed by animals, and plant activity at these sites exceeded or equaled plant consumption during fall and winter months, particularly at Zeke’s Island. This information will assist our state’s coastal managers in monitoring the overall health of our estuaries.

The most significant result of this study is that the type of habitat adjacent to the monitoring site explains the general trends in net ecosystem metabolism. Marsh and mangrove creeks typically consume organic material. While submerged aquatic vegetation, such as eelgrass, usually produce organic material. Caffrey found that freshwater sites tend to consume more organic material than saltier areas. Larger systems tend to be more balanced. Smaller systems tend to be more consuming.

Caffrey studied 42 sites within 22 of NOAA’s 26 National Estuarine Research Reserves using data collected through the System-wide Monitoring Program (SWMP, pronounced swamp). SWMP provides reliable, continuous data at frequent intervals.

“Water quality monitoring programs like SWMP are extremely useful for estimating an estuary’s level of production and consumption, i.e. its net metabolic rate,” according to Caffrey. “The reason that I am able to do this research is because SWMP provides quality controlled data using the identical parameters at many sites across the United States. This is interesting because SWMP was not initially designed for this purpose. These sorts of analyses have the potential to provide unique insights into how the nation’s estuaries function, a value not anticipated by the reserve system. 

“SWMP measures many water quality variables. The key variable that I use for determining metabolic rate is dissolved oxygen,” states Caffrey. “If we go back to the human body analogy, measuring dissolved oxygen is like examining how the estuary is breathing.”


New Sea Grant book focuses on estuarine dynamics, shoreline erosion rates

Along North Carolina’s extensive estuarine shoreline, erosion is an ongoing natural process. While various methods are available to combat erosion and land loss, none are permanent solutions, and all have significant environmental trade-offs.

Drowning the North Carolina Coast: Sea-Level Rise and Estuarine Dynamics— by North Carolina Sea Grant Researcher Stanley R. Riggs and East Carolina University Research Associate Dorothea V. Ames — provides in-depth information about erosion processes and rates along North Carolina’s northeastern estuarine shoreline. 

The book was funded with grants from the Division of Coastal Management, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, and the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program.

Riggs presented data from Drowning the North Carolina Coast at the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission meeting April 28. 

Estuarine shoreline erosion generally takes place during major storms. For example, during Hurricane Isabel in 2003, a 5- to 8-foot storm surge occurred within large portions of North Carolina’s estuarine system. That included the Chowan River, where there was estimated 80 mph sustained winds and gusts up to 95 mph, according to Riggs.

 “After Hurricane Isabel passed over the Chowan River, there was up to 80 feet of shoreline recession along the Chowan River bluffs,” adds Riggs.

In the book, the authors also look at sea-level rise and its effect on shoreline change, as well as the dynamics of the estuarine system.

“We put the science of the estuarine system into a framework that could be understood by the public and coastal managers,” says Riggs. “Our estuarine system is an incredible natural resource that represents North Carolina’s natural capital. We must manage this coastal system as a nonrenewable natural resource if we hope to preserve it for both the short- and long-term future development of the state.” 

The 152-page book — with full-color photos and maps, along with comprehensive text, figures and tables — is a ready reference for property owners, government officials, community planners, resource managers and educators. Single copies are $25. To order a copy, go to www.ncseagrant.org.


2004 forecast calls for 14 storms, three intense hurricanes

Hurricane forecaster William Gary predicts the Atlantic will see 14 named storms this year, including eight hurricanes—three of them intense.

The long-term average is 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 intense hurricanes. Hurricane season goes from June 1 to Nov. 30.

Gray said there is a 71 percent chance that at least one intense hurricane will make landfall in the United States, and a 52 percent probability that an intense hurricane will strike the East Coast.

Higher hurricane numbers over the past seven to nine years indicate the United States has entered a period of increased storms that will last two or three decades, said Philip Klotzbach, an atmospheric research scientist and a member of the forecast team.

The change correlates to an increase in surface temperatures in the North Atlantic and a decline in surface pressure in the tropical Atlantic. The team said it didn't attribute the changes to human-caused global warming.
 

NOAA Hurricane Preparedness Week is May 16-24

Last September, Hurricane Isabel made landfall in North Carolina, causing $170 million in damage, and claiming the lives of at least three North Carolinians. In an average three-year period, roughly five hurricanes strike the U.S., causing widespread property damage, injuries, and deaths.

There are now some 45 million permanent residents along the hurricane-prone coastline, and the population is still growing. A large portion of the coastal areas with high population densities are subject to the inundation from the hurricane's storm surge that historically has caused the greatest loss of life and extreme property damage. In addition, many newer residents have never experienced a severe hurricane, and may be unprepared for the devastation these storms can cause.

NOAA’s Hurricane Preparedness Week focuses on educating the public on the dangers of hurricanes and other severe storms, and details the steps people can take to reduce storm damage and protect themselves, their families and their property. These steps include securing their home against winds and storm surge, developing a family disaster plan, and assembling a disaster supply kit.

For more information, visit NOAA’s Hurricane Preparedness web site.
 

New Getting In Step watershed outreach guides available from EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has produced a set of valuable new resources designed to assist local governments, watershed groups, watershed management agencies, and others to plan and conduct effective watershed outreach campaigns:

  • Getting in Step: A Guide for Conducting Watershed Outreach Campaigns(Publication # EPA 841-B-03-002), and
  • Getting in Step: A Video Guide for Conducting Watershed Outreach Campaigns(Publication # EPA 841-V-03-001)

These two companion guides offer advice on how to effectively raise citizen awareness of nonpoint source pollution and how to motivate individual behavior change to develop more water-friendly habits and practices that will lead to cleaner waters for local communities and the nation.

The 100-page book, plus appendices, expands upon a 1998 publication by the Council of State Governments and includes new information from the growing field of community-based social marketing. The book is intended as a reference that pulls together principles, techniques, and information for effective watershed outreach into a single, user-friendly source. The 35-minute video reinforces the six-step process outlined in the book, and showcases four successful outreach programs from around the United States.

For a free copy of this guide and its companion video, please contact the National Service Center for Environmental Publications at 1-800-490-9198 or via the web at www.eap.gov/ncepihom. The book is also available as a PDF download at http://www.epa.gov/owow/nps/outreach.html.

Briefly ...

Bodie Island Lighthouse gets new stripes
The 132-year-old Bodie Island Lighthouse will be receiving a fresh coat of black and white as National Park Service contractors begin work on painting the 132-year-old tower this month. In addition to the exterior painting, the interior of the attached oil house and hallway will also be painted. The work is part of the on-going Save America's Treasures (SAT) project at the Bodie Island Lighthouse. The State of North Carolina has matched the SAT grant to fund planning, analysis, lead paint removal, and documentation of this nationally significant maritime property.

Easley: Tourism fuels N.C. economy
North Carolina maintained its standing as the sixth most-visited state in America in 2003, Gov. Mike Easley told tourism officials in April. Last year represented an uptick for the industry in North Carolina on almost every front. Some 49.3 million visitors came to North Carolina last year, spending $12.6 billion and contributing about $1.1 billion to state and local tax coffers. In 2002, the state attracted about 44 million visitors who spent about $12.4 billion.

California Sees Huge Drive to Save Coast
A small, powerful network of nonprofit land trusts, government agencies and foundations have bought thousands of acres of California's coastline since 2000 to stop growth. In a phenomenon some have dubbed ``Big Green,'' groups including the Arlington, Va.-based Nature Conservancy, the San Francisco-based Trust for Public Land and American Land Conservancy and numerous land trusts have translated 1970s idealism into hard-nosed business to compete with developers.

Collectively, nonprofit trusts raised $27 million in efforts to pass three ballot initiatives in 2000 and 2002 that authorized $11.1 billion in state bonds to buy land for open space preservation, restore wetlands and wildlife habitat and create new urban parks.

California preserved nearly 53,000 acres of coastal-area land last year, reports the California Coastal Conservancy, a state agency that seeded such projects with $168 million and leveraged $133 million more.

North Carolina has a similar initiative to preserve state lands. In 2000, Governor Hunt and the General Assembly committed the state to preserve an additional million acres of farmland, forestland, local parks and greenways; state parks, forests, and gamelands; and coastal reserves, riparian buffers, floodplains, and wetlands over the next 10 years.
 

Staff news

Ted Tyndall, former district manager in Morehead City, has accepted the position of assistant director for Permits and Enforcement.

Tere Barrett, previously a field representative in DCM's Morehead City Office, has accepted a position with the Permits and Consistency Unit as assistant major permits coordinator

Stephanie Bodine has joined the Morehead City Office as the director’s secretary. She previously worked with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.

Sheila Green, rulemaking coordinator in the Raleigh Office, has left DCM for a position with the N.C. Department of Justice.

Stephen Lane has joined the Morehead City Office as a field representative. Stephen previously worked with the N.C. Division of Water Quality and the Pamlico County Health Department.

Robb Mairs has joined the Wilmington Office as a field representative. Rob comes to DCM from the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.

Maureen Meehan has joined the Morehead City Office as the district planner. Maureen previously worked as a senior planner in Monroe County, Florida.

Congratulations to Ken Richardson, GIS analyst in the Raleigh Office, and his wife Kristie, on the birth of their son, Grant Hamilton, February 24.

Stephen Rynashas joined the Morehead City Office as a consistency coordinator.

Congratulations to Brad Shaver, field representative in the Morehead City Office, and his wife Meredith, on the birth of their daughter, Halley Macrae, April 12.

Congratulations to Josh Shepherd, management information systems manager in the Raleigh Office, and his wife Wendy, on the birth of their daughter, Reagan Kollin, March 10.

Steve Sollod has joined the Raleigh Office as a transportation projects coordinator with the permits and consistency unit. Steve previously worked for Progress Energy Co.

Gale Stenburg has joined the Wilmington Office as a field representative. Gale was previously an environmental specialist with the N.C. Division of Water Quality.

Jeff Warren has joined the Raleigh Office as a Coastal Hazards Analyst. For the past four years, Jeff served as lab manager at the UNC-CH Department of Geological Sciences.

Tony Zaharias has joined the Elizabeth City Office as a field representative. Tony previously worked for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

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