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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 02 2020 Habitat Staff

Marine Fisheries

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Meet the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan
Program and Habitat Permitting Staff

8-point rule

 

Anne Deaton
Anne Deaton
Casey Knight
Casey Knight
Jenna Baggett
Jenna Baggett
Jessica Carlton
Jessica Carlton
(Click on small images for enlarged view)

The Habitat and Enhancement Section is the section within the Division of Marine Fisheries that houses the agency’s Coastal Habitat Protection Plan Program.

The Fisheries Reform Act of 1997 recognized that to ensure sustainable fisheries, habitat and water quality needs must be addressed, as well as regulating fisheries. Dedicated staff work hard every day to address these needs through numerous activities to support the implementation of the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan.

Staff identify priority habitat areas, referred to as strategic habitat areas, by assessing what habitat areas are most critical for sustaining fish populations and monitoring changes in habitat condition. Two field technicians conduct extensive field sampling of target fish species and habitats in and adjacent to three fish habitats (wetlands, seagrass or submerged aquatic vegetation, and shell bottom) to verify fish use in strategic habitat areas.

Staff also develop coastwide habitat monitoring protocols that link healthy fish populations with the quality and quantity of the habitats they need. During mapping events for seagrass, staff lead field verifications to confirm presence, species, and density of seagrass. The seagrass is delineated from imagery by staff.
To minimize habitat impacts from development, the section has an environmental permit review program. Two staff attend interagency scoping meetings, review more than 100 state and federal applications each year, and provide comments on modifying projects as needed to avoid or minimize potential habitat impacts.

Recently, staff contributed to Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 80, North Carolina’s Commitment to Address Climate Change and Transition to a Clean Energy Economy, representing the division on multiple workgroups and committees.

In addition to their daily activities, staff participate in regional and coast wide committees as well as give presentations to a wide-range of audiences including scientists and the general public. On top of that, staff volunteer regularly for such as Earth Day events where they collected trash from various estuaries in the state.
The staff of the Coastal Habitats Protection Program brings a great deal of knowledge, skills, and professionalism to the division.



Anne Deaton is the habitat supervisor. She works in the Wilmington Regional office.

Anne holds a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (1985), and a Master of Arts in Marine Science from the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences (1990).

Between attending UNC-W and VIMS, Anne worked for the Shellfish Sanitation and Recreational Water Quality Section for two years as a shoreline surveyor. After graduate school, she took a position with the Florida Park Service as an environmental specialist and worked there for nine years. Duties varied from park to park, but involved monitoring some of the same habitats that occur in North Carolina (seagrass, wetlands, water quality), as well as coral reefs. Habitat damage assessments, restoration of seagrass and coral, writing park management plans, and reviewing environmental permits were among the duties.

In 1999, Anne moved to the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries to help develop a newly required management plan – the N.C. Coastal Habitat Protection Plan. After working on the initial plan, Anne took a supervisory position with the Habitat Protection Section, overseeing the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan, the environmental permit review process, and working on implementation actions from the habitat plan. In 2013, the Habitat Protection and Resource Enhancement sections merged, and she continues to work on habitat initiatives.

When not working Anne enjoys spending time with her family, kayaking, swimming, and hiking.


Casey Knight is the coastal habitats biologist. She works in the Wilmington Regional Office.

Casey started with the division in 2013 as the SEAMAP biologist. She moved the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan Program in 2016.

Casey assists with Coastal Habitat Protection Plan implementation actions and oversees modeling and delineations of strategic habitat. She also assists with analyzing estuarine bottom mapping program data and has worked on countless committees and workgroups for various agencies and organizations. She has also been a key staff member on workgroups supporting Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 80.

Born and raised in Rural Hall, outside of Winston-Salem, Casey completed undergraduate and graduate school at Auburn University with a Bachelor of Science in Zoology with concentration in biodiversity and conservation in 2004 and a Master of Science in Fisheries Science in 2008. Prior to coming to the division, she worked with Alabama Power and the Southern Company on Clean Water Act 316(b) studies on coal and nuclear power plant impacts to aquatic life across Alabama assisting with dam relicensing projects including, endangered species surveys, wetland delineations, and coordinated surface air supply dive team for various surveys and studies.

Casey has a dog named Bear and two cats, Guppy and Natasha. She enjoys traveling, spending time on the water and in the woods, and seeing live music.
 

Jenna Baggett is the strategic habitat areas validation study field technician.

Jenna graduated from UNC-W in May 2019 and will head to graduate school in the fall.

Along with strenuous field sampling that includes fishing gill nets, setting fish traps, towing a juvenile trawl, and recording habitat information, Jenna also keeps up with gear maintenance, data coding and verifying, and field scheduling. 


Jessica Carlton is the submerged aquatic vegetation delineation biologist.

She graduated from UNC-W in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences. She is currently working towards her Master of Science in Geographic Information Sciences.

Jessica’s primary duties include using GIS software to identify areas of submerged aquatic vegetation on the coast of North Carolina from the latest aerial photography. She also assists with the strategic habitat areas validation sampling, including pre-season gill net hanging and helping to keep track of scientific literature for reports and updates.

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N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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