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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Coastal Management - summer06

Coastal Management

CAMAgram - Summer 2006

DCM to add four enforcement positions

The Division of Coastal Management will soon be able to better enforce Coastal Area Management Act rules when it adds four new compliance coordinators to its staff, one in each regional office.

Both the governor and the General Assembly recognized the need for increased CAMA enforcement while drafting this year’s state budget, and provided DCM with the funds to create these positions.

The four compliance coordinator positions will improve the division’s focus on compliance and enforcement of CAMA rules by having staff that are dedicated to these activities. This should help to prevent violations from occurring since staff will be able to provide oversight of projects as they are being constructed. 

Coordinators will also be able to assist with activities designed to educate the public about compliance with CAMA regulations, including workshops for real estate agents and contractors. In addition, these new positions will allow DCM field representatives to focus on the ever-increasing permitting demands, resulting in a considerable savings to the regulated community and better customer service.

The positions are part of DCM’s response to public input on the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan. A primary recommendation of the CHPP is to enhance enforcement of, and compliance with, existing rules and programs protecting coastal fish habitats.
 

General Assembly approves increase in CAMA penalties

The N.C. General Assembly has passed legislation that will allow the division to increase the maximum amount it can assess for civil penalties for CAMA violations. This is the first increase in CAMA penalties since 1983.

Currently, the division can assess fines of up to $250 for minor development violations and up to $2,500 for major development violations. The legislation increases the maximum penalties to $1,000 for minor permit violations and $10,000 for major permit violations beginning Dec. 1. It also allows DCM to recoup some of the investigative costs associated with violations.

The legislation also allows DCM to weigh how much money the violator saved by noncompliance as a factor in determining the amount of the fine.
 

CRC will hear public comments on sediment criteria rule in September

The public will have the opportunity to comment on proposed changes to the Coastal Resources Commission’s rule on sediment criteria for beach nourishment projects during the commission’s next regular meeting in September.

The hearing is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 21, during the CRC’s meeting at the Hilton Wilmington Riverside, 301 North Water St. in Wilmington.

Sediment criteria rule language was approved for public hearing by the CRC on March 24. Comments regarding the sediment criteria may also be submitted for the record during the official public comment period of Aug. 1 through Oct. 2. Comments may be submitted to Jeff Warren, DCM’s coastal hazards specialist, via e-mail (jeff.warren@ncmail.net), telephone (919.733.2293, ext. 251), or mail (NC Division of Coastal Management, 1638 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1638).

The text of the rule is available here.
 

Six members reappointed, Sermons appointed to CRC

Gov. Easley has reappointed six of the seven CRC members whose terms expired June 30. Courtney Hackney, Renee Cahoon, Bob Emory, Bob Wilson, Lee Wynns and Joan Weld were all reappointed to serve another four years on the Coastal Resources Commission.

Wayland J. Sermons Jr. of Washington has been appointed to the CRC as the Sports Fishing Representative, replacing Larry Pittman. Mr. Sermons is an attorney who has represented the towns of Bath and Chocowinity.

 

DCM awards grants for land-use planning and non-point source planning during 2006

The Division of Coastal Management annually has been awarding about $390,000 in grants to about 22 local governments for land-use planning. About half of the grants are on a fiscal cycle and the others on a calendar-year cycle. 

The grants were awarded under the Local Planning and Management Grants Program. Projects that are eligible for funds include new or updated Coastal Area Management Act land-use plans.

The following local governments have recently received grants to develop, update or complete land-use plans: Caswell Beach, Chowan County/Edenton, Havelock, Holden Beach, Jacksonville, Manteo, Nags Head, Onslow County, Ocean Isle Beach, Southern Shores, Sunset Beach, Swansboro and Tyrrell County/Columbia.

“Local land-use planning is becoming increasingly important in the coastal region, and we are very pleased that we can continue to support local governments in their planning efforts,” said Steve Underwood, Coastal Management’s assistant director for policy and planning.

Grants may cover up to 85 percent of a coastal county’s planning costs, depending on the type of plan and the county’s economic status. CAMA requires coastal counties to have land-use plans.

Because land-use planning is optional for coastal cities and towns, grants may cover up to 75 percent of their planning costs, depending on the type of plan the municipality chooses to develop.

Some smaller coastal communities may qualify for a simplified form of land-use plan known as a workbook plan. Coastal Management provides non-monetary support to local governments that choose to do these plans. Recently the town of Varnamtown completed a workbook plan.

Additionally, DCM has awarded more than $235,000 in grants on a one-time basis for planning and design work for non-point source projects. Communities receiving these grants are: town of Beaufort, Dare County, Kitty Hawk, Nags Head, Newport, Swansboro and Wrightsville Beach.
 

CRC 2007 meeting schedule

The Coastal Resources Commission will meet six times next year, on the following dates:

 

Jan. 25-26

Crystal Coast Civic Center
Morehead City, NC

March 22-23

Northern Location

May 17-18

City Hotel and Bistro
Greenville, NC

July 26-27

Elizabeth City area

Sept. 27-28

Southern location

Nov. 29-30

Washington area


Tomlinson receives Pelican Award

Former CRC chairman Gene Tomlinson recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the N.C. Coastal Federation, honoring his 28 years of service on the CRC. DCM Director Charles Jones accepted the award on Tomlinson’s behalf at the Coastal Federation’s Pelican Awards ceremony on June 1.

In honoring Tomlinson, the Coastal Federation said:

“Gene Tomlinson, who for 28 years was the heart and soul of the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission before retiring last year, will receive the Federation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Born in Fayetteville, Tomlinson is an engineer who spent most of his life in the seaside town of Southport. He was appointed to the commission in 1977 and was at the helm when the commission, which sets development policies along the coast, approved most of the major controls on development. He played a key role in the turbulent passage of the ban on seawalls on the oceanfront and inlets.

“Tomlinson could bring people together on controversial issues,” the Coastal Federation said, “and passionately, yet calmly, articulate the need for action.”

Gene understood the value and importance of coastal resources. In a 1995 interview he said, “And we see [nursery areas and productive fishing grounds] being gobbled up by people who would bulldoze in the marshes, who would put in bulkheads and fill behind them, who would bulkhead the oceanfront so that we become like New Jersey or Miami Beach.”
 

New signs help visitors learn about Currituck Banks reserve

The staff of the Currituck Banks National Estuarine Research Reserve site has installed several new educational signs to instruct visitors on the site’s ecology.

The interpretive signs were installed along the reserve’s boardwalk, and include information on wildlife in the sound and the surrounding forest.

“The new signs are a wonderful addition to the reserve,” said Rebecca Ellin, manager of the N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserves and Coastal Reserves program. “I hope visitors will take the time to stop and read them to learn more about the local ecology and why it should be protected.”
 

A Star is born!

For the first time in three years, a new foal was recently born on the Rachel Carson National Estuarine Research Reserve in Beaufort.

Pat and Bob Rapaport, two dedicated Reserve volunteers, first spotted the foal and named her Star. The foal is a female, born in late May or early June, and her mother is Beth. 

The herd’s population is controlled using birth control darts, and Beth has been darted with birth control since 1999.  However, sometimes the birth control simply doesn’t work, resulting in an occasional foal.

The new addition brings the total number of horses on the island to 42.
 

Workshops to help local leaders learn about environmental review process

State and federal environmental officials have scheduled three workshops in August to help local leaders better understand laws and issues regarding aquatic ecosystems that may affect development projects.

By educating local leaders, state and federal officials hope to raise awareness about the importance of protecting aquatic ecosystems, including threatened and endangered species.  By doing that, officials hope to help local leaders streamline environmental review of development projects. By law, state and federal agencies must oversee any building and construction near rivers, streams, lakes or wetlands.

“Federal laws protect these species,” said Melba McGee, environmental review program manager with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. “But unfortunately concerns about aquatic ecosystems are not always factored into a project time line.” 

The workshops will target city and county planners, elected officials, town managers and developers.

The workshops will be held from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on the following schedule: Aug. 17 at the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville; Aug. 24 at The Summit at Haw River State Park near Browns Summit; and Aug. 30 at River Park North in Greenville. Registrants can check-in beginning at 8:30 a.m. the day of each workshop.

The cost per workshop is $10 and includes lunch and a copy of “Swimming with the Current – A Guide to Help Local Governments Protect Aquatic Ecosystems While Streamlining Environmental Review.”

The workshops’ sponsors include the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the N.C. Department of Transportation, N.C. DENR, N.C. Natural Heritage Program, N.C. League of Municipalities, N.C. Association of Environmental Professionals and the N.C. Office of Environmental Education.

These workshops will explain the importance of aquatic ecosystems and cover topics such as how aquatic ecosystems affect peoples’ health and the economy. Workshop speakers also will discuss the laws protecting certain species and how to integrate conservation into development projects and land-use planning.  There also will be case study presentations and a panel discussion.

For more information, call (919) 707-0224 or visit the Wildlife Resources Commission’s Web site, www.ncwildlife.org/planningworkshop. You can find registration forms on the Web site. Checks should be made payable to NCWRC – Division of Inland Fisheries.
 

News briefs

Hurricane forecast revised downward
Colorado State University professor William Gray is downgrading his predictions for this year’s hurricane season, saying it won't be as bad as earlier predicted.

Gray is reducing the number of likely hurricanes from nine to seven and intense hurricanes from five to three. However, he predicts hurricane activity will still be above average and will continue to be for another 15 to 20 years.

Thirteen major hurricanes have formed in the Atlantic during the past two years, with seven of them striking the U.S. coast.

Supreme Court Rules on Wetlands Protections
A Supreme Court ruling made in mid-June means the federal government’s power to enforce wetlands regulations under the Clean Water Act will be determined on a case-by-case basis. 

In the ruling (Rapanos vs. United States and Carabel vs. Army Corps of Engineers), five justices agreed to remand the case to the Sixth Circuit for more fact-finding.  Justice Scalia, writing the opinion of the Court and joined by three justices, ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers, the lead federal agency on wetlands regulation, exceeded its authority when it denied two Michigan developers permits to build on wetlands. 

The Court said the Corps had gone beyond the Clean Water Act by making landowners obtain permits to dump rocks and dirt not only in marshes directly next to lakes and rivers but also in areas linked to larger bodies of water only through a network of ditches and drains. However, while Justice Kennedy's opinion concurred with the judgment, he signaled that the Corps should use a different standard.  The difference in opinion means there was not a majority concurrence in the standard to be used. 

The effect of this case was neither a rollback of federal wetlands regulation nor the reaffirmation of the Clean Water Act that environmental organizations had desired. Instead, unless Congress amends the law or federal regulators change their rules, the likely outcome is more litigation in lower courts, with property owners, U.S. agencies and federal judges trying to figure out how to satisfy the standards sketched in Justice Kennedy's solo opinion.  Several justices urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to clarify its regulations. 
 

Staff news

Grant Caraway has joined the Rachel Carson Reserve as the site manager on a temporary basis.

Sarah McPhail is our summer intern for the Currituck Banks NERR.

Teri Denault, summer intern for the Rachel Carson NERR, is conducting SAV mapping as part of the CHPP goals.

Michele Droszcz, northern reserve sites manager and stewardship coordinator, has left DCM for a position with the N.C. Ecosystem Enhancement Program.

Congratulations to Shery Keel, permits and consistency clerk in the Morehead City Office, and her husband Chris, on the birth of their daughter Molly, Aug. 3.

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