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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Coastal Management - spring05

Coastal Management

CAMAgram - Spring 2005

Coastal Resources Commission Chairman Gene Tomlinson resigns

Gene Tomlinson, chairman of the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission, has resigned from the commission.

A member of the CRC since 1977 and chairman since 1993, Tomlinson has been active in coastal issues throughout his life. A Navy veteran, Tomlinson is a retired engineer and former mayor of Southport.

“Gene’s expertise in coastal issues and his commitment to preserving North Carolina’s rich coastal heritage will be sorely missed,” said Charles Jones, director of the N.C. Division of Coastal Management. “He is the longest-serving member of the CRC, and I am proud to have had the chance to work with him for so many years.”

In a letter to Gov. Mike Easley, Tomlinson expressed regret at leaving the CRC: “During these 26 years, I have seen tremendous changes happen on our coast, from increases in population and development, to the implementation of major environmental laws.

“As with most things,” Tomlinson said, “it is now time to pass the torch on to the next generation. I appreciate the opportunity I have had to positively affect the future of North Carolina’s coast.”
 

Easley appoints three to Coastal Resources Commission

Gov. Mike Easley has appointed James Leutze of Wilmington, Charles Elam of Apex and Charles Bissette Jr. of Morehead City to serve on the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission.

In addition, Easly appointed Courtney Hackney chairman of the commission, and reappointed Doug Langford of Nags Head, Jerry Old of Moyock, Bill Peele of Washington, and Melvin Shepard of Sneads Ferry. Their terms expire June 30, 2008.

Dr. Leutze is a former chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and is the editor-at-large of N.C. Metro magazine. Elam is a former municipal planner from Cary, and Bissette is vice president of T.D. Eure, a marine contracting firm in Morehead City.

The new appointees, with one position still vacant on the 15-member board, replace members whose terms expired last summer.

The 15-member commission 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. 
 

State officials sign historic habitat protection document

N. C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Bill Ross joined representatives from three environmental commissions in a February signing ceremony celebrating the completion of the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan.

In the 1997 Fisheries Reform Act, the N.C. General Assembly directed the department to prepare a plan for protecting critical fisheries habitat as a way to help in the recovery of slumping fish stocks. The CHPP describes critical habitats where marine fish and shellfish feed, spawn and grow. The CHPP also identifies threats to those habitats and makes recommendations for addressing those threats.

“Today is a celebration of all the work that has been put into this effort designed to protect and restore critical fisheries habitats,” said Ross. “ But more importantly, it is a starting point for the work that needs to be done to follow through on the plan’s recommendations.”

Joining Ross were Jimmy Johnson, chairman of the Marine Fisheries Commission, Gene Tomlinson, chairman of the Coastal Resources Commission, and Pete Peterson, representing the Environmental Management Commission.

DMF, DCM and DMF are all preparing detailed implementation plans for their respective commissions to be approved by July 1, 2005.

DENR is already taking action by enhancing enforcement of existing rules protecting fish habitat, developing a set of indicators to gauge the on-going health of the estuaries and habitats and reporting on those trends, expanding oyster restoration efforts and educating the public about the importance of these habitats.

For more information about the plan, visit the Division of Marine Fisheries site.
 

CHPP implementation proposals now online

Enhancing oyster restoration and reducing pollution caused by storm water runoff are among a list of actions proposed by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to begin implementation of North Carolina’s Coastal Habitat Protection Plan.

The proposed list of actions, which also includes preparing a comprehensive coastal beach and inlet management plan, is available for public comment and review.

On Feb. 11, DENR Secretary Bill Ross, signed the CHPP – a landmark conservation package designed to protect and restore critical fisheries habitat. DENR, along with the Marine Fisheries, Coastal Management, and Environmental Management commissions, plans to adopt measures to implement the CHPP by July 1, 2005.

DENR is already taking action by enhancing enforcement of existing rules protecting fish habitat, developing a set of indicators to gauge the on-going health of the estuaries and habitats and reporting on those trends, expanding oyster restoration efforts and educating the public about the importance of these habitats.

Implementation plans are posted at http://www.ncdmf.net/habitat/chpp28.html or are available in hard copy by calling the CHPP Office at 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632. The public can provide comments toCHPPs@ncmail.net or by mailing input to the CHPP Office, Division of Marine Fisheries, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, N.C. 28557
 

EstuaryLIVE is May 3-5

The online education program EstuaryLIVE will bring North Carolina’s Rachel Carson Estuarine Research Reserve to classroom computers across the state and country as students participate in virtual field trips during the spring event May 3-5. 

The program uses the Internet to transmit live images and sound from the estuary to elementary, middle and high school classrooms. Participating teachers can connect to the trips using an Internet-ready computer and free software. Registration is required. See the Estuary Live Web site atwww.estuarylive.org to register or to view the schedule.   

As teachers facilitate the trip, classes identify questions and submit them on the question submit page to the estuary, where naturalists and scientists in the field answer them. Class sessions are divided into grade levels and topics to provide the appropriate level of general estuarine education.

In addition to online field trips to the Rachel Carson Reserve site, the program will feature sessions on blue crabs, oysters, water quality, coastal geology and dredging, coastal weather, decoy carving and sand sculpting.

To prepare for the EstuaryLive electronic field trips, teachers and students can use the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s new Estuary Discovery Kit for high schools. The kit may be downloaded from NOAA’s Web site at http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/kits/estuaries/welcome.html.

For more information about the program, visit the EstuaryLive Web site at www.estuarylive.org, or contact Coastal Education Specialist Amy Sauls at amy.sauls@ncmail.net.
 

2005 forecast calls for 13 storms, three intense hurricanes

One of the nation's top hurricane forecasters is calling for another active tropical storm season -- but not as bad as last year, when storm after storm pounded Florida and flooded Western North Carolina.

Hurricane forecaster William Gary predicts the Atlantic will see 13 named storms this year, including seven hurricanes — three of them intense.

Last year, one of the most active in history, saw 15 tropical storms, with nine becoming hurricanes -- six of them intense. Gray had predicted 13 storms, with seven becoming hurricanes, three of those reaching Category 3 or above.

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.

More tropical storms have formed over the past 10 years than in any decade since the United States started keeping records in the 1870s.

This year is expected to be strong again because there is no active El Nino in the Pacific Ocean, Gray said. El Nino helps create winds across the Atlantic that weaken hurricanes. In addition, water temperatures in the north Atlantic are also expected to be higher than usual this year. Warm water fuels hurricane strength.

Gray said there is a 73 percent chance that a major storm -- Category 3 or above -- will make landfall along the U.S. coastline this year. The average for the last century is 52 percent.

Since 1900, North Carolina has been hit by 29 hurricanes. Only Florida, with 64, and Texas, with 38, have seen more.

 

NOAA Hurricane Preparedness Week is May 15-21

Last year, an unprecedented number of tropical storms affected the Atlantic coast states, and were particularly damaging to Florida and the western part of North Carolina. In an average three-year period, roughly five hurricanes strike the U.S., causing widespread property damage, injuries, and deaths.

Some 45 million permanent residents live along the hurricane-prone coastline, and the population  continutes to grow. 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 hurricaneand 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 you can take to reduce storm damage and protect yourself, your family and your property. These steps include securing your 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.
 

Legislative update

Beach bill
House Bill 1542, The Beach & Coastal Waterways Conservation Act, has been introduced by Reps. Culpepper and Preston. Originally introduced in 2001, the bill created a Beach Preservation and Restoration Commission to serve as an independent agency in North Carolina. The commission had extensive powers, including the charge to develop a beach management plan and administer the Beach Preservation and Restoration Fund. Under this bill, the fund would receive an annual appropriation of $12 million.

Although the 2005 version resembles the 2001 version, there are several differences. For example, the new version recognizes the CHPP as a component. Under the bill, DENR is charged with developing a beach management plan for the state.

Protecting N.C. oysters
Sen. Daniel Clodfelter has introduced an act to enhance the infrastructure that supports oyster restoration activities, to protect and restore water quality and habitat in prime oyster growing areas and to appropriate funds to help support projects to rehabilitate oyster habitats and sanctuaries. Sen. Julia Boseman has introduced related legislation that would allow for the development of oyster hatcheries at each of the three state-owned aquariums. In addition, Senate Bill 1157 would ban the disposal of oyster shells in landfills.

Brunswick County groin structure
Rep. Bonner Stiller has submitted a bill that would allow the CRC to vary from its shoreline protection rules to permit a porous groin structure, extending into the ocean, on one or more Brunswick County beaches. This bill is aimed at building this type of structure to control erosion on the East End of Ocean Isle Beach.

Coastal hazards disclosure
Rep. Pricey Harrison has introduced House Bill 1512, which requires that North Carolina realtors and property owners provide potential buyers with a written document that discloses the existence of coastal natural hazards affecting any property for sale in one of the 20 CAMA counties.

Va. Governor vetoes offshore drilling bill
Gov. Mark R. Warner has vetoed a bill that would have urged Congress to end its ban on drilling for natural gas off the Virginia coast. The bill called for Virginia’s Liaison Office to lobby the state’s congressional delegation and federal agencies in Washington to drop a decades-old ban on natural gas drilling off Virginia’s coast. It urged passage of “proposed” federal legislation known as SEACOR, or the State Enhanced Authority for Coastal and Offshore Resources.

New U.S. natural gas measure would expand offshore access
Bipartisan legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate aims to control soaring natural gas prices by widening access to offshore reserves that are now off-limits and spurring a host of energy conservation and research efforts. The bill allows states new powers to allow gas-only leasing in outer continental shelf areas that are currently under executive and congressional moratoria. The restrictions cover the East Coast (including North Carolina), West Coast and most of the eastern Gulf of Mexico. North Carolina Senators Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr have expressed their opposition to this legislation.

NOAA Organic Act sent to Congress
The Bush administration has sent a bill to Congress that codifies the establishment and purposes of NOAA. The bill was originally introduced last year as part of the administration's response to the report of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy that recommended putting a NOAA Organic Act into law.

In its report, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy stated that a NOAA Organic Act would strengthen the agency and would help to ensure that its structure is consistent with its primary functions of management, prediction, research and education.  The report said the act would help NOAA achieve better management of oceans and coasts through an ecosystem-based approach.
 

DCM leads North Carolina’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program

The Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (was established by Congress in 2002 to protect coastal and estuarine lands considered important for their ecological, conservation, recreational, historical or aesthetic value. The program provides funding for projects that ensure conservation of these areas for the benefit of future generations, and that can be effectively managed and protected.

The Division of Coastal Management is the lead agency for the CECLP in North Carolina. The division partnered with the Office of Conservation and Community Affairs in 2004 to inventory the existing conservation lands in the state’s 20 coastal counties, and to identify local priority areas for future land conservation efforts. Several other stakeholders have already been involved in various aspects of the program, including regional councils of government, environmental organizations, and the N.C. Center for Geographic Information and Analysis). Using GIS data assembled by CGIA, DCM is creating maps that portray existing conservation areas and potential sites for future conservation.

Before the state is eligible to seek funding under the CELCP, DCM must submit a CELC Plan to NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management for approval. A key component of the state’s CELC Plan is a set of criteria by which projects will be nominated for funding. The state must also identify the agencies, or types of agencies, that will be authorized to hold title to property acquired through the CELCP. Subject to plan completion and certification, North Carolina may be eligible to seek funding as soon as 2006. CELCP funds require 100 percent match from non-federal sources, through cash or in-kind contributions. The standard performance period for an award is 18 months, but may be extended an additional 18 months if circumstances warrant.

This year, DCM will solicit input on establishing nomination criteria and other aspects of the state’s Plan. Interested parties are encouraged to contact Tancred Miller in DCM’s Morehead City office at (252) 808-2808 or 888-912-CAMA (2262), or at Tancred.Miller@ncmail.net
 

DENR’s new stormwater web site makes a splash

North Carolina residents, local governments and businesses have a new source for information about polluted stormwater runoff, the number one source of water pollution in North Carolina.

Stormwater is rainwater or snowmelt that, instead of seeping into the earth, “runs off” via gutters, storm drains and ditches into creeks, streams, rivers, lakes and the ocean. Pollutants like excess fertilizer, oil, eroded dirt, pet waste, soap, pesticides and other chemicals are picked up by the runoff and carried untreated to local water bodies. The primary source of these pollutants is people.

The Web site, located at www.ncstormwater.org, features educational material ranging from novice to expert, children’s activities, research, news, events and a toolkit of outreach resources for local governments.

“Educating state residents about the role they play in creating stormwater pollution is vital to improving our state’s water quality,” N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Bill Ross said. “I firmly believe that once people are aware of the steps they can take to improve water quality, they will change their behaviors.”

In North Carolina, 364,732 acres of shellfish beds have been closed due to bacterial problems made worse by polluted stormwater. It has also caused or contributed to swimming advisories, fishing advisories and beach closings.

The quality of stormwater runoff is one half of the stormwater picture; the quantity of stormwater runoff poses its own problems. Increased development brings more streets, parking lots, roofs and other surfaces that shed water instead of absorbing it. One inch of rain falling on a one-acre parking lot produces 16 times more runoff than the same inch of rain falling on a one-acre meadow. Localized urban flooding, erosion and scouring of streambeds are some impacts caused by increased stormwater runoff quantity.

North Carolina, which is implementing Phase II of the U.S. EPA’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System, has 132 communities that fall under federal requirements designed to address polluted stormwater runoff. The new Web site assists those communities mandated to conduct public outreach and education on the topic.

“We encourage communities to link to this Web site,” stated Chrystal Bartlett, the state’s stormwater awareness and outreach coordinator. “Communities will always be the experts on their own areas, but DENR tried to design the site so there was something of value for everyone – residents, local governments and businesses.”

News briefs

Coastal conditions report
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently released the National Coastal Condition Report II.  Second in a series of environmental assessments of the nation’s coastal waters and the Great Lakes, the report represents collaboration among EPA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey. The report contains data provided by 23 coastal states through EPA’s environmental monitoring and assessment program. The report is available at www.epa.gov/owow/oceans/nccr2/.

Coastal population on the rise
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released a new report titled Population Trends Along The Coastal United States: 1980 – 2008,which details the ever increasing movement of the U.S. population to coastal counties and the implications of those trends for the future. 

New Website Investigates Coastal Impacts from Storms
The Coastal and Marine Geology Program has unveiled a new website that investigates the extent and causes of coastal impacts of hurricanes and extreme storms on the coasts of the U.S. The investigations have three integrated components including Scanning Airborne Laser Altimetry (Lidar), Oblique Aerial and Video Photography, and ground surveys. The overall objective is to improve the capability to predict coastal change that results from severe storms. This capability will facilitate locating buildings and infrastructure away from coastal change hazards. For the new Web site, visithttp://coastal.er.usgs.gov/hurricanes/.

Gov. Easley announces 2004 tourism figures
Gov. Mike Easley announced this month that visitors to North Carolina spent $13.2 billion in 2004, which is an increase of 4.9 percent from the previous year and the largest single-year increase since 2000. 

“North Carolina’s tourism industry brought the state 49 million visitors in 2004, and generated $13.2 billion in revenue last year for the state,” Easley said. “The travel and tourism industry is an important industry in this state and I am committed to maintaining our reputation as a top travel destination.”

Staff news

Lowana Barrett is the new receptionist in Morehead City.

John Cece has joined the Elizabeth City office as a field representaitve. John has a degree in marine and estuarine biolgoy from the University of Maryland. His past work experience in the environmental consulting field includes the development of plans for federal agencies to comply with the requirements of NCPA and CZMA and reduce potential impacts of proposed development projects.

Rebecca Ellin is the new NERR coastal reserve manager. Rebecca has her master’s degree in Marine Science from the University of South Carolina. She was once a NERR graduate research fellow for the North Inlet-Winyah Bay NERR, and was also a NOAA coastal management fellow for the California Coastal Commission.

Anthony Snider is the new southern sites manager for DCM’s Coastal Reserve program.  Anthony will be primarily overseeing stewardship activities for the two southern National Estuarine Research Reserve sites (Masonboro and Zeke's Islands) and the two southern Coastal Reserve sites at Bald Head and Bird Island. He holds a PhD in forestry/botany from N.C. State University. He worked at the University of Minnesota teaching various environmental policy/conservation and management issues related to natural resources. 

Heather Wells recently joined the Coastal Reserve staff as the NERR research assistant. Heather most recently worked as a research technician at UNCW's Aquaity Ecology laboratory.

Congratulations to Morehead City plannerMaureen MeehanWill, who married Rob Will on Feb. 12.

Cathy Wood is the accounting technician in the Raleigh office. Cathy comes to us from the Museum of Natural Sciences, where she worked for almost 22 years.

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