CITY OF PLUS-HEAD – All three state commissions reviewing the 2021 Coastal Habitat Protection Plan amendment have given their approval, transferring the amendment to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality for review.
The North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission unanimously approved the CHPP amendment at its regular business meeting on November 10. A few days later, the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission and the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission held their own concurrent business meetings. The EMC passed the amendment on November 17, followed shortly after by the MFC on November 19.
An environmental organization that helped create the draft amendment hopes the plan will help prevent fish and seagrass kills in the future. NC Coastal Federation executive director Todd Miller said in an email to the News-Times the amendment focuses on improving water quality to protect and restore coastal habitats.
“In particular, it discusses the link between too many nutrients flowing from the land into our estuaries and the decline of seagrass beds due to algal blooms that reduce water clarity and limit water availability. ability of sunlight to penetrate through water to these grasses, ”Miller said.
The CHPP, first adopted in 2004, is a long-term plan to improve coastal fisheries through habitat protection and other efforts. The DEQ CHPP Steering Committee developed the amendment, which includes a series of recommended goals and actions, including researching the benefits of living shorelines, developing flood protection strategies for wastewater treatment infrastructure. wastewater and partnering with external organizations to create coastal vulnerability assessment tools.
Bogue Sound, located in Carteret County, is one area that could benefit from the focus of modification on seagrass habitats. Mr Miller said the strait exhibited one of the most significant historical declines in seagrass habitat along the state’s coast and that the federation is encouraging landowners to reduce stormwater runoff and to install living shores.
“This (loss of habitat) is likely the result of polluted runoff combined with erosion of the shoreline from waves caused by heavy shipping activities,” Miller said. “The plan includes recommendations for building more lively shorelines where shoreline erosion occurs, and finding ways to reduce the runoff of polluted stormwater and install living shorelines for this reason.”
The NCCF helped create the amendment by organizing a group of private actors to recommend voluntary actions to reduce nutrients released into estuaries.
“One of the main recommendations of this group was to form a private / public partnership to engage stakeholders to work with the government to help implement many of the management measures outlined in the plan,” continued Mr. Miller.
As the plan heads to the DEQ in Raleigh, the NCCF expects it to be “fully supported by DEQ leadership and the CN General Assembly.”
“It does not impose any new laws or rules, but simply outlines a coordinated work plan that everyone will have to follow over the next five years to try to protect fishing habitat at sea,” said the executive director.
The federation is not the only regional environmental group that supports the CHPP. Coastal Carolina Riverwatch program coordinator Rebecca Drohan said the organization is supporting the efforts of the amended plan, providing feedback to the public during the amendment process.
“This (entry) included information gathered through our Fisheries Water Quality program, which amplifies the voices of North Carolina’s coastal fishing communities,” said Ms. Drohan.
She went on to say that coastal habitat protection is important to Carteret County and the rest of the state’s coast due to the loss of native coastal habitat, which has a direct impact on the quality. some water.
“We are happy to see this (effect) recognized,” Ms. Drohan said. “The future inclusions we would like to see are more discussions around environmental justice, concentrated animal feed operations and emerging contaminants. “
Carteret County officials have also expressed support for the amendments. Carteret County Deputy Director Eugene Foxworth said the county endorsed practical measures that promote good water quality.
“I participated as a member of the task force formed by the Coastal Federation and the Pew Charitable Trust which helped formulate the recommendations,” he said. “The only way I think the county can oppose the CHPP changes is if the intent of the recommendations is misinterpreted and impractical regulations, which are often ineffective and cumbersome, result. “
Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email [email protected]; or follow us on Twitter at @mikesccnt.