CAMAgram - Winter 2004
Riprap sills general permit adopted for public hearing
At its January meeting, the Coastal Resources Commission adopted for public hearing a temporary rule that would create a Coastal Area Management Act general permit to allow construction of riprap sills in estuarine and public trust waters. The rule will go through the temporary rule-making process as outlined in the Administrative Procedure Act. A hearing on the proposal will be held at the next Coastal Resources Commission meeting April 28.
Riprap sills are low rock structures placed parallel to non-ocean shorelines. Vegetation is planted behind the sills to create wetlands, which, among other things, filter runoff from the land and absorb wave energy.
Currently, sill installation requires a CAMA major permit, while other forms of shoreline stabilization, such as bulkheads, can be authorized with a general permit. Because general permits can be issued more quickly than major permits, the shorter turnaround time would hopefully encourage more people to use riprap sills instead of less environmentally-friendly bulkheads to stabilize the shoreline. Bulkheads can cause erosion to increase in areas adjacent to them, which can impact valuable marsh or shallow-bottom habitat.
Hearings on four rule proposals scheduled
The Coastal Resources Commission will conduct public hearings on four rule proposals during the CRC’s regularly scheduled meeting April 28:
· Proposed amendment, 15A NCAC 7H .0304, AECS Within Ocean Hazard Areas. This amendment will temporarily designate a section of ocean shoreline in Dare County as an unvegetated beach area. This is an area that was damaged by Hurricane Isabel on September 18, 2003. The unvegetated beach designation will re-establish a development setback line for this area that will be used to determine where structures can be (re)built.
· Proposed amendment, 15A NCAC 7H .0306, General Use Standards for Ocean Hazard Areas. This will clarify (a)(5) of 7H .0306 such that the enclosure of existing roof-covered porches in the Ocean Hazard AEC will only be permitted landward of the first line of stable, natural vegetation.
· Proposed rule, 15A NCAC 7H .2600, General Permit for Construction of Wetland, Stream and/or Buffer Mitigation Sites by the North Carolina Ecosystem Enhancement Program or the North Carolina Wetlands Restoration Program. This proposed rule would create a general permit for wetland, stream and/or buffer mitigation activities conducted through the N.C. Ecosystem Enhancement Program or the North Carolina Wetlands Restoration Program.
· Proposed for adoption, 15A NCAC 7H .2700, General Permit for the Construction of Riprap Sills For Wetland Enhancement and Shoreline Protection in Estuarine and Public Trust Waters. This proposed rule would create a general permit for the construction of riprap sills for wetland enhancement and shoreline protection in estuarine and public trust waters.
The public also may submit written comments about the first three proposals (15A NCAC 7H .0304, 15A NCAC 7H .0306, and 15A NCAC 7H .2600) through June 1. Written comments for proposed rule 15A NCAC 7H .2700 may be submitted through April 28. Submit written comments to: Charles Jones, Division of Coastal Management, 151-B Hwy. 24, Hestron Plaza II, Morehead City, NC 28557, or e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commission votes to adopt updated erosion rates
At its January meeting, the Coastal Resources Commission voted to adopt a proposal to incorporate updated long-term average annual erosion rates into the state’s oceanfront development rules. Pending approval by the state’s Rules Review Commission, the updated rates will likely become part of coastal development rules in the next few months.
The CRC held public hearings on the proposal last year in each of the eight coastal counties that contain ocean shoreline.
A long-term average annual erosion rate is the average amount of erosion that occurs each year over a period of about 50 years. By measuring movement of the ocean shoreline over a long period of time, the Division of Coastal Management is able to get a more accurate representation of the net shoreline change, taking into account normal shoreline movement, beach nourishment and storms.
The shoreline change was measured by comparing the shoreline in aerial photographs from 1998 with photographs, topographic surveys and other shoreline data from the 1940s. The measurements were put through several computerized processes designed to reduce errors and increase accuracy. The result is the most accurate erosion rates the state has ever had, said Steve Benton, coastal hazards coordinator with Coastal Management.
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, Benton said.
Coastal Management uses long-term average annual erosion rates in determining setback distances for oceanfront construction. Setbacks are measured from the first stable line of natural vegetation. The minimum setback is 60 feet for beachfront houses and 120 feet for large buildings such as hotels and condominiums.
The setback distance can be greater depending on the erosion rate. For example, on a property where the erosion rate is three feet per year, the setback for a single-family house would be 90 feet landward of the vegetation line.
The rule change would use the updated erosion rates for determining setback distances for oceanfront construction. Setback distances currently are based on erosion rates calculated in the 1990s.
The rule contains a grandfather clause for existing lots in areas where the erosion rate has increased. If you own a lot platted by Oct. 23, 2003, and want to build on it after the new erosion rates take effect, you must meet a setback based on the new rates to the maximum extent feasible. If you cannot meet a setback based on the new erosion rates, the setback distance will be based on the erosion rate in effect at the time your lot was created.
New CRAC chair, vice chair elected at Jan. meeting
Robert Shupe of Brunswick County was elected chair of the Coastal Resources Advisory Committee at the committee’s quarterly meeting in January. A member of the CRAC since 2001, Shupe formerly served as vice chair of the committee.
Shupe replaces Ginger Webster of Currituck County, who has served as chair since her election in Jan. 2002.
At the same meeting, Bill Morrison of Pender County was elected as CRAC vice chair. Morrison has been a member of the CRAC since 2001.
The CRAC is a 45-member group that provides the Coastal Resources Commission with local government perspectives and technical advice. Members represent coastal counties and cities, regional councils of government and state agencies.
Pivers Island partnership will assess environmental impacts, recommend mitigation technologies
The Division of Coastal Management is joining with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Duke University and the N.C. Dept. of Agriculture to develop a plan to address stormwater runoff and aquaculture effluent on Pivers Island in Beaufort, N.C.
The partnership has received a $40,000 planning grant from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund to assess these issues and recommend innovative technologies to reduce the nutrient, sediment, and contaminant load of stormwater and aquaculture effluent from the island.
The driving force behind the project is a joint NERRS/NOAA building slated to open in Aug. 2006. The new construction provides an opportunity to address these issues not only for the new facility, but also island-wide and across the state, said Mike Lopazanski, Coastal Management’s coastal and ocean policy analyst.
Estuary Live is April 27-29
Students across the state and country are invited to take part in the online education program Estuary Live, Exploring North Carolina’s Scenic Byways, April 27-29 at the Rachel Carson Coastal Reserve in Beaufort.
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 at www.estuarylive.org for 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 fieldtrips to the Rachel Carson Reserve site, the program will partner with the Albemarle Pamlico National Estuary Program and the Distance Learning Section of the N.C. Department of Public Instruction to take a special look at some of the culture and history of North Carolina's coastal areas. Some of the featured sessions will include the N.C. Maritime Museum, Carteret Community College Aquaculture Program, Duke Professors and more.
N.C. Coastal Federation presents oyster preservation workshop in March
North Carolina’s oyster harvests have dropped more than 97 percent since their heyday in the early 1900s. Scientists point to a variety of reasons, including habitat loss, pollution, diseases, and over-fishing.
What can we do to bring our oysters back? Find out at An Encore for Oysters, a workshop presented March 16-17 by the North Carolina Coastal Federation, N.C. Division of Environmental Health Shellfish Sanitation Section,and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The workshop will highlight efforts to protect and restore oyster habitat and production in North Carolina and nationally.
Workshop topics will include shell-recycling programs, reef building, restoring wetlands, oyster gardening, and other ways citizens can help to restore oyster habitat and coastal water quality.
There have been a number of changes among DCM staff since the last CAMAgram in October 2003:
Charles Jones, assistant director of permits and enforcement in the Morehead City office, has been named Acting Director of Coastal Management.
Mike Christenbury, district planner, has transferred from Morehead City to the Wilmington office.
Jason Dail, Wilmington office, has been promoted to the position of express permitting coordinator.
Lynn Mathis, Elizabeth City office, is now the DOT projects field representative for the northern coastal area.
John Thayer, Elizabeth City office, has been promoted to manager of planning and public access program,and will be moving to the Morehead City office.
Mary Beth Brown, director’s secretary, has retired after 30 years of service to the State of North Carolina, including 13 years with Coastal Management.
Donna Moffitt, former director of Coastal Management, is the new director of the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.
Guy Pearce, consistency coordinator in the Raleigh office, has left DCM to join the Ecosystem Enhancement Program in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Jeff Schaffer, permits analyst in the Raleigh office has left DCM to join the Ecosystem Enhancement Program in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Joanne Steenhuis, field representative in the Wilmington office, has left DCM for a position as express permitting coordinator for the Division of Water Quality.
John Taggart, manager of the N.C. Coastal Reserve Program, has left to join the staff of the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. John spent 20 years with the Coastal Reserve Program.
Tracey Wheeler, field representative in Morehead City, has left DCM for a position with the Army Corps of Engineers.
New Staff Members:
Melissa Carle has joined the Raleigh office as a wetlands management specialist. After receiving her Masters of Environmental Management degree in wetlands ecology and management from Duke University, Melissa recently worked on an National Science Foundation funded research project to design a prototype Hydrologic Observatory for the Neuse River Basin.
Jonathan Howell has joined the Washington office as the district planner.
Steven Sollod has joined the Raleigh office as a transportation projects coordinator within the permits and consistency unit. Steve previously worked for Progress Energy.
Michele Walker has joined the Raleigh office as the division’s public information officer. She previously was a public information officer for the N.C. Employment Security Commission.
Tony Zaharias will join the Elizabeth city office as a field representative effective March 1.