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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Coastal Management - Winter07

Coastal Management

CAMAgram - Winter 2007

New beach fill rules effective Feb. 1

A new set of rules designed to ensure the quality of sand used for beach nourishment projects in North Carolina took effect Feb. 1.

The rules governing Technical Standards for Beach Fill Projects require those projects to meet a new set of criteria for determining compatibility of the sand used to nourish North Carolina beaches.

The N.C. Coastal Resources Commission adopted the rules last November based on recommendations from the Coastal Resource Commission’s Science Panel on Coastal Hazards as well as data analysis, a review by the Division of Coastal Management and input from numerous stakeholders.

“These new rules are a significant step forward in our efforts to improve the quality of material used in beach nourishment projects,” said Division of Coastal Management Director Charles Jones. “(They) will greatly reduce the possibility of finding rocks, mud and other incompatible materials on nourished beaches along our coast.”

Beach nourishment, also known generically as beach fill, is the practice of placing sediment on a beach to combat shoreline erosion. Because North Carolina law prohibits “hard” oceanfront structures such as seawalls and groins, beach fill has become a popular alternative for erosion control. . Sediment deposited on beaches is either excavated from upland locations or collected during navigation maintenance projects in inlets and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The sediment from these sites may be significantly different in character from the beach on which it is to be placed.

The CRC’s previous rule, which stated only that sand used for beach nourishment must be compatible with existing grain size and type, was deemed vague. So, the commission’s Science Panel on Coastal Hazards began working to develop new sediment criteria in 2002. The panel provides the commission with scientific data and recommendations about coastal topics.

The new rules provide an objective definition of sediment compatibility for beach fill projects, and outline specific protocols for sampling the beach scheduled to receive nourishment and the proposed  borrow site in order to correctly characterize the material found there. These methods will help ensure that future beach fill projects will closely mimic the native characteristics of North Carolina’s beaches.

DCM accomplishments in 2006

  • The Coastal Resources Commission adopted NCAC 7H .0312, Technical Standards for Beach Fill Projects, which outlines new sediment criteria rules for beach nourishment projects.
  • DCM, along with The Estuarine Biological and Physical Processes Work Group, completed a report of recommendations of appropriate shoreline stabilization methods for each of the different North Carolina shoreline types.  This information will be used by the CRC to potentially develop new rules related to estuarine shoreline stabilization.
  • Enhanced public access to beaches and coastal waters through $3.4 million in grants for 29 projects in 19 local communities for public access projects. The grants help pay for a variety of projects to improve access to coastal beaches and waters, including walkways, dune crossovers, restrooms, parking areas and piers. Funds also may be used for land acquisition or urban waterfront revitalization.
  • Supported coastal land-use planning through $372,000 in grants to 19 local communities for land-use planning. Projects that are eligible for funds include new or updated CAMA land-use plans.
  • Reached thousands of students, teachers, local government officials, coastal decision makers, and other members of the coastal community through workshops (Stormwater Management, Green Building, Managing Visitor Use, Grantwriting Basics, Coastal Explorations, etc.), reserve site field trips, Estuary Live broadcasts, and other educational activities conducted by the staff of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve. The Spring 2006 Estuary Live broadcast alone reached 2,025 participants.

2006 N.C. Coastal Reserve/National Estuarine Research Reserve Highlights

The 12th year of the NCNERR’s System-Wide Monitoring Program was successfully implemented at the Masonboro and Zeke’s Islands components. SWMP is part of a national program to provide baseline data about water quality, chlorophyll a, nutrients, and weather for 27 estuaries across the country. Real-time data are now available for the Research Creek site at Masonboro Island as part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System’s contribution to theIntegrated Ocean Observing System.

Water quality monitoring was initiated in Currituck Sound as part of the Currituck Sound Study.

Water quality and level monitoring was initiated at the Buckridge Coastal Reserve to better understand water movement through the canals with support from the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund.

Submerged aquatic vegetation was mapped at the Rachel Carson NERR site.

Upland and emergent habitats were mapped at three of the four NERR sites.

Sea turtle monitoring was reinstated at the Masonboro Island NERR site this summer after a five-year hiatus. Twenty-five nests and 11 false crawls were observed.

Interpretive signs for the Currituck Banks NERR site boardwalk and informational kiosks with site and trail information for the Kitty Hawk Woods and Buxton Woods Coastal Reserves were installed.

Seventy-four volunteers participated in a Reserve-wide clean up in conjunction with N.C. Big Sweep and the Carolina Estuarine Reserve Foundation. A total of 107 bags of trash and debris were removed from the sites. Many thanks to our volunteers and event coordinators for a successful event!

Two hundred fifteen teachers learned about coastal and estuarine systems and education resources in nine teacher workshops and trainings held along the coast. Partners for these workshops included the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program, N.C. Sea Grant, N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, Bald Head Island Conservancy, and the SouthEast Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence .

EstuaryLive drew 2,025 students with sessions on coastal geology, habitats and species, and 702 students participated in field trips on the Rachel Carson and Zeke’s Island NERR sites.

The volunteer-led walking and boat field trips at the Rachel Carson NERR site drew 299 visitors.

Eight coastal training program workshops reached 183 coastal decision-makers on topics such as grant writing basics, stormwater management, visitor use management and green building.  

A coastal training program needs assessment of the 11 town planning boards in Carteret County was completed.  The high response rate – 73 percent - indicates that planning board members are interested in training. Future training will be offered on relevant topics such as coastal area planning, barrier island processes and stormwater best management practices.

New CAMA major permit forms available

Following an extensive development effort, Coastal Management has recently implemented new major permits forms. The new forms have a cleaner design and should be easier to use, and also will help DCM staff collect more comprehensive environmental data, which will help us make better informed policy and resource management decisions.

Two of the previous forms – “Structures” and “Marinas” – have been combined into one form on the recommendation of the Multi-slip Docking Facility Advisory Committee, in keeping with the division’s CHPP implementation strategy. Any applicant requesting a major permit for a structure over the water, including proposed marinas, should use the new MP-4 form.

The newforms are available for download on our Web site in Microsoft Word and PDF formats. Hard copies of these forms are also available in each of the division’s four regional offices.

2007 CRC meeting schedule changes

The 2007 CRC meeting schedule has changed somewhat since it was announced in the CAMAgram last fall. The new meeting locations are:

  • March 22-23:  Ramada, Kill Devil Hills
  • May 17-18:  City Hotel & Bistro, Greenville
  • July 26-27:  Holiday Inn Brownstone, Raleigh
  • Sept 27-28:  Hilton, Wilmington
  • Nov 29-30:  City Hotel & Bistro, Greenville

Waterfront Access Study Committee progress report, public meetings

In 2006, the N.C. General Assembly established the Waterfront Access Study Committee to examine “the degree of loss and potential loss of the diversity of uses along the coastal shoreline of North Carolina and how these losses impact access to the public trust waters of the State.”

In January, the committee presented a progress report to the Joint Legislative Commission on Seafood and Aquaculture. The report details issues addressed at three committee meetings, and includes ideas such as:

· Encourage existing state trust funds to consider working waterfront/public access as funding criteria.

· Consider creating a coastal working waterfront and public access trust fund for land/easement purchases.

· Encourage local governments to explore conditional zoning approaches to maintaining water access.

· Expand present-use value tax relief to cover specifically defined “marine working waterfronts.”

· Require CAMA counties to address working waterfront needs in land-use plans.

A copy of the progress report can be found onN.C. Sea Grant’s Web site.

The report was adapted for use at three public meetings that were held on the coast between Jan. 30 and Feb. 1. The meetings were held tosolicit public input on waterfront access and diversity of use issues along our coast. Transcripts from each meeting will be posted online at the committee’sWeb site.

Coastal Development Rule Update Workshops for Marine Contractors

The N.C. Coastal Reserve’s Coastal Training Program and Coastal Management’s Regulatory Branch are hosting four workshops for marine contractors this month. These workshops provide marine contractors with current information on the Division’s rules for coastal development, including an overview of general permit fees, construction of bulkheads, placement of riprap, and construction of piers. Coastal Management’s shoreline stabilization and pier and dock development initiatives were also discussed.

The workshops in Beaufort and Washington covered the North Carolina Division of Water Quality’s Riparian Buffer Protection Rules for the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico River Basins. Workshops in Manteo and Wilmington had an additional session on the express permitting process. This workshop allowed participants to  ask questions about the process and meet the division’s local field representatives and district managers. Eighty-five marine contractors from all over coastal North Carolina attended the four workshops.

Clean Marina Support Staff Hired

The North Carolina Clean Marina program is designed to show that marina operators can help safeguard the environment by using management and operations techniques that go above and beyond regulatory requirements. Clean Marina is a voluntary program that began in the summer of 2000. Marina operators who choose to participate must complete an evaluation form about their use of specific best management practices.

The Clean Marina program has never had a dedicated staff to fully implement the program. Thus, only nine of the more than 200 coastal marinas are certified Clean Marinas.  That should all change on Feb. 26, when Jennifer Webber begins administering the program. Webber, who has abachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a masters degree from N.C. State University, will be responsible for marketing the Clean Marina program to marina operators and certifying marinas. Funding for her position came from the N.C. Coastal Nonpoint Source Program and the N.C. Coastal Reserve, part of the Division of Coastal Management. Webber will be based in Beaufort at the Coastal Reserve office, but she will travel to marinas all along the coast for marketing and certification purposes. You may contact her at (252)728-2170.

Volunteers needed for SAVcooperative habitat mapping program

The Division of Coastal Management and the N.C. Coastal Reserve are part of an interagency cooperative to map submerged aquatic vegetation, or SAV, for North Carolina and southern Virginia. SAV habitats are a valuable but often delicate component of our coastal ecosystems. During 2007, we plan to collect aerial photography and use itto locate SAV along the North Carolina coast, including the sounds. This ambitious effort will need support from volunteers to help determine water clarity conditions prior to the aerial photo flights and assist with verification of field conditions.

SAV is an important fish habitat, providing nursery and foraging areas, especially for juvenile fish. More than 155 species of fish and invertebrates occur in SAV in North Carolina, including more than 30 commercially and recreationally important species such as flounder and blue crab. SAV also enhances the entire ecosystem by trapping and stabilizing sediment, cycling nutrients and reducing wave energy. Resource agencies want to know where this habitat occurs so that it can be adequately protected. Distribution of SAV will be delineated and mapped with aerial photographs taken for this purpose. An extensive effort will be needed to determine water clarity conditions prior to the aerial photography flights and to collect ground verification data to aid in data processing.   

Volunteers will be needed to monitor water clarity and other environmental conditions to determine if the water is clear enough for taking the aerial photographs. Data such as water clarity, surface water conditions and wind conditions need to be collected throughout our estuaries and coastal rivers. Water clarity surveys will be conducted in the morning on certain days in April, May and early June, and later in the fall. It should only take a few minutes at each location to obtain the needed information.

Interested volunteers could also participate in ground verification field surveys during the same time period. This would involve more time, working with agency staff and going by boat to various sampling sites. Field surveys will collect information on SAV species presence, abundance and environmental conditions at each site for the purpose of refining and verifying photo-interpretation.

Researchers presently studying SAV in these ecosystems will conduct workshops in March to train volunteers participating in water clarity monitoring and ground verification field surveys. Volunteers will learn how to identify different SAV species, and how to sample the physiochemical characteristics of the water column and sediment where these submerged plants live. There is no cost to attend the training workshops.  

To register for the workshop and for additional information, please contactLiz Noble with East Carolina State University’s Department  of Geological, Environmental and Marine Sciences, at (252) 335-3595 You may also contact Anne Deaton with the Division of Marine Fisheries at (910) 796-7315

SAV Field Survey Training Workshop Schedule




March 13

1-4 p.m.

Elizabeth City State University
Jenkins Science Center Room 102
Elizabeth City, NC

March 20

1-4 p.m.

N.C. Division of Marine FisheriesWilmington, NC

March 27

1-4 p.m.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries
Morehead City, NC

March 28

1-4 p.m.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries
Washington, NC

Optional Universal Stormwater Management Program now available

A voluntary program went into effect Jan. 1 that enables local governments to administer state stormwater programs within their jurisdiction while providing more effective environmental protections.

The Universal Stormwater Management Program represents a new approach to stormwater management in North Carolina in that it will allow local governments to adopt and implement a single, simplified set of stormwater rules within their jurisdiction. This will eliminate the confusion that can be posed by the overlapping requirements from as many as 16 different stormwater pollution prevention programs. According to the Division of Water Quality, the program also incorporates the latest research regarding the most effective control and treatment of stormwater pollution.

Stormwater carries sediment from land-disturbing activities such as construction sites, landscaping and farmland, and is the No. 1 cause of waterway degradation in the country. Silt deposits in streams, rivers and lakes destroy aquatic habitat and reduce the volume of stored water in reservoirs. Stormwater also carries oil, grease, pet waste and other chemicals when rainwater rushes across parking lots and roadways, off rooftops and across yards. These pollutants are carried into the waterways without being treated. The pollutants often have enough force to erode stream banks, scour streambeds and overwhelm floodplains.

The USMP is available to local governments that adopt an ordinance that complies with the rule and receive approval from the Environmental Management Commission. For those entities that adopt the program, the rule outlines requirements that apply to development and redevelopment activities that meet defined thresholds. In the 20 coastal counties, the threshold includes projects that disturb 10,000 square feet or more, or disturb less than 10,000 square feet but are part of a larger common plan of development or sale. For the 80 non-coastal counties, the thresholds include residential development activity that disturbs 1 acre or more, residential development activity that disturbs less than 1 acre but is part of a larger common plan of development or sale and non-residential development activities that disturb one-half acre or more.

The USMP rule requires stormwater controls such as the detention of stormwater to settle solids and modify its force and volume for projects that meet or exceed the thresholds. In areas where stormwater drains to shellfish harvesting waters, measures must be taken to control fecal coliform and new or expanded outfalls are prohibited.

For more information about the USMP and the text of the rule, go to theDivision of Water Quality’s Web site.

U.S. earns C- on latest Ocean Policy Report Card

The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative recently released its2006 Ocean Policy Report Card. The report card serves as an annual review of progress being made in response to the reports issued by the Pew Oceans Commission and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy.

Innovative state government initiatives, federal fisheries reform, and the designation of 140,000 square miles of protected waters were among the highlights of nationwide efforts to reform ocean policy in 2006. These advancements were undercut by the nation's failure to commit funding and make desperately needed policy reforms for the long-term preservation of our oceans, according to the report card.

"In the race to preserve our oceans, the states are outdistancing the federal government," said Leon Panetta, co-chair of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative. “Our expert commissions have told Congress and the administration what they can do to pick up the pace and immediately begin to reverse ocean decline. To bring this grade up in 2007, the bottom line is that more needs to be done if we are to protect our ocean resources.”

State leadership and fisheries management earned grades of A- and B+, respectively. States emerged as important champions for oceans in 2006, establishing new statewide initiatives in New York and Washington as well as regional agreements to coordinate ocean management efforts on the West Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico.

The United States received an average grade of C- for the six subjects measured in the report card, up slightly from the D+ assigned for 2005.

The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative is a collaborative effort of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and Pew Oceans Commission to catalyze ocean policy reform. The Initiative is guided by a 10-member task force, five from each commission and led by Admiral James D. Watkins and Panetta, chairs of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and Pew Commission, respectively. The primary goal of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative is to accelerate the pace of change that results in meaningful ocean policy reform.

Briefly …

Scientists at the North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill will study what pollutants are expelled from pipes along the Outer Banks that are meant to send storm water to the ocean. The two-year study will focus on what the pollutants are and their possible sources.

Drilling Expansion Approved as Part of Tax Bill; President Signs the Bill into Law
During the final hours of the 109th Congress, legislators passed a broad tax measure (H.R 6111) that addresses numerous issues, including Medicare payments to physicians and amendments to the U.S. Tax Code. Attached to H.R. 6111 is the Senate-passed legislation to increase Gulf of Mexico oil and gas leasing by 8.3 million acres. The drilling plan would set up a system to share 37.5 percent of Gulf production royalties with Gulf coast states (LA, TX, AL, and MS); the Land and Water Conservation Fund will receive 12.5 percent for all states; and the remaining 50percent will go to the federal government. President Bush emphasized that some of the funding from the bill would help restore wetlands in the Mississippi River delta that have been destroyed through storms and erosion.

New DMF director
Dr. Louis Daniel is the new director for the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries as of Feb. 1. Daniel replaces Preston Pate, who retired after serving as the division’s director since 1997.

Louis has worked with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries since 1995. For the past nine years, he has worked extensively with the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council and also serves on numerous management boards for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Daniel also has had oversight of the division’s fishery management plan process, coordinating development of long-term management strategies for North Carolina’s most economically significant fisheries.

Staff news

Stephanie Bowling, DCM’s administrative secretary for the last three years, has left DCM. Bowling and her family will soon be on their way to California when her husband, Wilson, returns home from a tour of duty in Iraq.

Angela Willis is our new Administrative Secretary in the Morehead City Office. She was previously the assistant to the superintendent of the Carteret Correctional Facility.

Daniel Govoni joined DCM Feb. 5 as our assistant major permits coordinator in Morehead City. Govoni comes to us from the Division of Water Quality's Neuse River Response Team. 

Caroline Bellis has left DCM to go on long-term disability. Bellis was with DCM for 14 years. We are sorry to see her go and wish her well.

Ann Wunderly has joined DCM as the reserve’s northern sites manager. She will be responsible for managing the Currituck Banks component of the N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve, Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve and Buxton Woods Coastal Reserve.

Melissa Sebastian has joined the Morehead City office as our new AP Clerk. She comes to us from a similar position with the Division of Marine Fisheries.

Our NOAA Coastal Fellow,Patrick Limber, was highlighted in the January 2007 issue of Fellow News, which is published by the NOAA Coastal Services Center. You can read the entire articlehere.


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