2nd Quarter 2013

Director's Note:
Hurricane season is here, and the Division of Coastal Management is ready to provide assistance to coastal homeowners if North Carolina experiences another major storm this year. Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012 were tough on North Carolina. DCM issued more than 1,000 emergency general permits after Hurricane Irene alone, and both storms had a major impact on N.C. Highway 12 on the Outer Banks. This year’s hurricane season is again predicted to be above average, with federal forecasters calling for between 13 and 20 named storms.

Here at DCM, we are reviewing and updating our hurricane response plans and procedures. Now is a good time for you to review your plans as well, to be sure you are prepared should a major storm come our way. If you need some assistance, visit DCM’sCoastal Hazards and Storms web page, orN.C. DENR’s storm season page, for hurricane preparedness, tracking and recovery information.

As always, we hope that you will share this newsletter with colleagues and friends, and let us know if you have any suggestions for future newsletters. If you would like to have your name added or removed from the email list, please email your request toMichele.Walker@ncdenr.gov. Additional coastal program information can also be found on our website,http://www.nccoastalmanagement.net.

Braxton Davis, Director, NC Division of Coastal Management

In this Issue:

  • DCM Plans June 26 Public Workshop for Cape Fear AEC Study

  • CRC Science Panel Nominations Open

  • DCM Prepares for Fourth of July at Masonboro Island

  • Jernigan Receives Eure-Gardner Award

  • Summer Camps, Field Trips Offered at Coastal Reserves

  • Coastal Reserve Staff Join Efforts to ConserveAmerican Oystercatchers

  • Staff Kudos

  • Legislative Update

  • Legal Update

DCM Plans June 26 Public Workshop for Cape Fear AEC Study
The Division of Coastal Management will hold a public workshop in June as part of a study of the feasibility of creating a special management area that would include the lands adjacent to the mouth of the Cape Fear River. The workshop will be held at the Southport Community Building, 223 East Bay Street, Southport, N.C. on June 26 from 1-5 p.m. 

Session Law 2012-202 requires the Coastal Resources Commission to perform the study which must consider the unique coastal morphologies and hydrographic conditions of the Cape Fear River region and determine if action is necessary to preserve, protect and balance the economic and natural resources of this region. The commission was directed to consider eliminating overlapping Areas of Environmental Concern (AEC) by incorporating appropriate development standards into one single AEC unique to this location. The Division of Coastal Management is working with the village of Bald Head Island and town of Caswell Beach, as well as landowners within and adjacent to these two municipalities, to identify regulatory concerns and develop proposed strategies for a new regulatory framework.

At the workshop, DCM staff will present an overview of the CRC’s regulatory jurisdictions, permitting processes and development standards as they currently apply to the region. The village of Bald Head Island and the town of Caswell Beach will also present their concerns and proposals. The public will be invited to provide their views related to the unique conditions of the area as well as the proposals presented. This information and all public comments will be presented to the CRC for consideration of the proposed AEC, and in a final report to the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the N.C. General Assembly.

For more information regarding the workshop or feasibility study, please contact Mike Lopazanski at Mike.Lopazanski@ncdenr.gov.

CRC Science Panel Nominations Open
The Coastal Resources Commission’s Science Panel on Coastal Hazards is accepting nominations for new members to fill four vacant seats – two designated for coastal engineers and two designated for coastal geologists. The panel, which has 11 members, is being expanded to 15 members by the commission. Members serve four-year terms and provide the CRC with scientific advice on relevant topics.

To recommend a nominee, contact any member of the CRC, the Coastal Resources Advisory Council, or current members of the science panel (http://dcm2.enr.state.nc.us/Hazards/scipanel.htm). A complete nomination includes a resume, CV, or other qualifying information with respect to the nominee’s knowledge and experience in coastal hazards processes. Nominations must be received by June 28.

New members will be appointed by the CRC chair based on a review of the nominee’s relevant experience and credentials and in consultation with a subcommittee of the commission.

For more information, contact Matt Slagel at Matthew.Slagel@ncdenr.gov.

DCM Prepares for Fourth of July at Masonboro Island
A strategy for increasing visitor safety during the Fourth of July holiday was on the agenda for a June 10 meeting of the Local Advisory Committee for the Masonboro Island Reserve.

As part of its ongoing efforts to increase visitor safety during the Fourth of July holiday, the Division of Coastal Management will work with the New Hanover County Sherriff’s Office to triple the number of law enforcement officers patrolling the island during the holiday weekend.

“Over the years, we have tried numerous strategies to manage the large crowds we see on the Fourth of July each year at Masonboro Island,” said DCM Director Braxton Davis. “Hopefully, an increased police presence on the island and in the water will be a deterrent to illegal activities and improve visitor safety.”

For the past several years, unofficial Fourth of July parties have left large piles of trash along at least a quarter-mile of the island, and have resulted in a growing number of arrests for underage drinking, fighting, boating violations, accidents and injuries.

Jernigan Receives Eure-Gardner Award
The N.C. Coastal Resources Commission on May 9 bestowed its highest honor, the Eure-Gardner award, on former Special Deputy Attorney General Allen Jernigan, who retired May 1 from the Office of the Attorney General. The award was presented by CRC Chairman Bob Emory at a commission meeting in Beaufort. During his 30-year career, Jernigan represented the state and the commission in many important coastal cases, including protecting state ownership of submerged lands, enforcing the state’s Dredge and Fill law, and protecting the public’s rights against attempts to privatize the dry-sand beach.

The Eure-Gardner award is bestowed on those individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to protecting the natural, cultural and economic resources of the coastal area. It is named for Thomas Eure, the first chairman of the CRC, and William Gardner, a long-time member and former chairman of the Coastal Resources Advisory Council. This is the eighth time the Eure-Gardner has been awarded since 1984.

Summer Camps, Field Trips Offered at Coastal Reserves
Visitors to the Rachel Carson Reserve in Beaufort can participate in public field trips on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30-10:30 a.m. during June, July and August. All trips are free and open to the public, but reservations are required. Call 252-220-0779 to make reservations. For more information, you can visit: http://www.nccoastalreserve.net/Education/Summer-Public-Field-Trips/133.aspx.

The reserve is partnering with the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort to offer Summer Science School for children. Register now for events such as Preschool Story Time and Crafts, and Seashore Life. For more information, check out http://www.nccoastalreserve.net/Education/Summer-Science-School-/175.aspx.

The Masonboro Island Reserve in Wilmington will offer family-friendly environmental education events. Join reserve staff for programs on endangered sea turtles, plants and animals found on the site, and wetlands. For more information, go to http://www.nccoastalreserve.net/uploads/GettoknowMasonboro.pdf.

Masonboro staff will also lead events on Wrightsville Beach. Learn about invertebrates such as jellyfish and hermit crabs, marine debris, and area flora and fauna. More information can be found at: http://www.nccoastalreserve.net/uploads/WB%20SE%20EEOutreach.pdf.

Field trips at both sites are free and open to the public. Some summer science school programs have a registration fee.

For more detailed information about all the programs offered, or to register, visit the reserve’s website at http://www.nccoastalreserve.net/.

Coastal Reserve Staff Join Efforts to ConserveAmerican Oystercatchers
By Kate Brogan

With their bright orange beaks and distinctive yellow eyes, American Oystercatchers are among the most recognizable shorebirds on the East Coast. Oystercatchers are uniquely adapted for life in coastal areas, with long, thin beaks specially designed for preying on oysters and other shellfish by severing the muscle in bivalves that clamps shells closed. Oystercatchers also use coastal habitats such as elevated dunes and marsh grass to build their nests.

However, like many other shorebirds, Oystercatchers face threats to their habitats and food sources in the form of increased coastal development, disturbance from human recreational activities, and pollution that affects the quality of their shellfish prey. The American Oystercatcher is listed as a species of special concern in North Carolina and as a species of high concern in U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service conservation plans for the East Coast.

Due to these conservation concerns, the N.C. Coastal Reserve often participates in annual American Oystercatcher surveys, coordinated by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, to monitor the population and breeding status of birds within certain areas of the reserve. Central Sites manager Paula Gillikin led the first 2013 Rachel Carson Reserve site survey on May 22, guiding interns and staff in Oystercatcher identification and observation. Researchers looked for the presence of Oystercatchers along the marsh fringe, and once a bird was spotted, determined if the bird was part of a nesting pair and whether a nest was present. Territorial displays by Oystercatcher pairs often indicate the presence of a nest site and/or eggs. During the course of the survey, 17 Oystercatchers were identified, along with one egg-filled nest. Results will be sent to North Carolina wildlife biologists who will compile results from across the state.  

To learn more about American Oystercatchers, visit: http://amoywg.org/research-sites/north-carolina/

Staff Kudos
In each newsletter we like to highlight recent kudos for our staff. Kelly Russell, field representative in DCM’s Elizabeth City office, recently received this email from a local property owner:

“Please accept my sincere thanks for your professionalism and efforts to assist us in Buxton. Your support and guidance to our sand bag and walkover efforts made it all possible during a time of immense stress and devastation after Sandy. We now have some comfort in knowing that we have some measure of protection against future storms.”

Reserve education coordinator Lori Davis received some positive comments from the attendees of a recent teacher workshop:

“Lori was great! Great personality, which made it enjoyable and fun. I enjoyed it all. It all tied together so well. I could ask questions when we went out to the island and I did not feel intimidated or stupid for asking. The fact that the activities were aligned with state standards allows me to use these activities with ease and knowing that I am covering required materials.” 

“[I really enjoyed] going to explore the Rachel Carson Reserve and seeing many of the habitats we learned about in the workshop. Lori’s enthusiasm and knowledge were excellent.”

“I loved this workshop. Thank you! Lots of times the workshops I’ve been to do similar lessons but these were almost all new to me and very creative and clever. Super useful! Lori is excellent!”

DCM is always proud of our staff’s commitment to providing all of our customers with the very best in customer service.

Legislative Update
Bills affecting Coastal Management in the current session of the General Assembly:

SB 10 – Government Reorganization and Efficiency Act: Makes changes to several state boards and commissions, including the Coastal Resources Commission and Coastal Resources Advisory Council. Ends the terms of current members of the CRC and CRAC. The House version of this bill retains four current CRC members until June 30, 2014. Reduces the CRC from 15 members to 13 (House version; Senate version reduces CRC from 15 to 11), and alters requirements for commissioners. CRC appointments, now all made by the governor, would change to some appointed by the governor and some by the General Assembly. Reduces the CRAC from 45 to 20 members. Eliminates CRAC agency appointments currently made by state department heads and others, and gives that authority to the Coastal Resources Commission.The House passed its version on March 5. The Senate did not concur with the House changes. A conference committee report came before the House and Senate on April 25. The Senate accepted the report, but the House voted unanimously to reject it.

HB 1011 – Government Reorganization and Efficiency Act:Nearly identical to the conference report on SB 10, this bill was filed as a House Rules Committee bill on the evening of May 7. Language related to the CRC and CRAC is identical to that of the House version of SB 10. The new bill does not include language eliminating Special Superior Court judges; does not include sections re-making the state Utilities Commission and Board of Elections; and deletes a provision added into the conference report to ban any state agency from using state funds or receipts "for the development, promotion, dissemination, or implementation of a statewide climate change action plan or adaptation strategy, unless such activities are specifically authorized by the General Assembly." Language regarding changes to the CRC and CRAC is included in SB 402, the Senate budget bill.Passed the House on May 9; referred to Senate Rules and Operations committee.

SB 402 – Appropriations Act of 2013: The Senate budget bill includes the language from HB 1011 regarding CRC and CRAC changes. It establishes an Oregon Inlet Acquisition Task Force for the purpose of considering the state’s options for acquiring the federal government’s rights, title and interest in Oregon Inlet and associated real property, including submerged lands. Acquiring the property could allow the state to develop long-term management solutions for preserving and enhancing the navigability of the inlet. The bill also establishes a Shallow Draft Navigation Channel Dredging Fund.

SB 612 – Regulatory Reform Act of 2013: Requires cities and counties to repeal any rules stricter than state or federal law. Also requires that environmental oversight boards and agencies, including the CRC, to repeal or rewrite any state rule stricter than federal regulation on any given matter.Passed the Senate on May 2; referred to House committee on Regulatory Reform.

HB 74 – Periodic Review and Expiration of Rules: Originally identical to SB 32, a committee substitute introduced on May 8 changed the House version to require agencies to review all of their current rules and determine which of three categories they fall into:

  • Category 1 – Necessary with substantive public interest (rule is necessary to function of the agency, and public comment received on the rule within the past two years, OR if the rule affects the property interest of the regulated public and the agency knows or suspects that any person may object to the rule).

  • Category 2 – Necessary without substantive public interest (rule is necessary to function of the agency, and no public comment received on the rule within the past two years).

  • Category 3 – Unnecessary (obsolete or redundant; can be eliminated).

Following a review by the legislative Rules Review Commission, rules falling under Category 2 will be allowed to stand. Rules falling under Category 3 will be expired on the date of the report, and will not need to be officially repealed. Rules falling under Category 1 would have to go through the complete rulemaking process.Passed the House on May 13; referred to Senate committee on Rules and Operations.

HB 484 – Permitting of Wind Energy Facilities:Establishes a permitting program for the siting and operation of wind energy facilities.Signed by Gov. McCrory on May 17, 2013.

SB 151 – Coastal Policy Reform Act of 2013:Makes the following changes to the 2011 terminal groin construction law:

  • Repeals the limitation on the number of terminal groins allowed in N.C. inlets.

  • Removes the requirement for a State Environmental Policy Act document.

  • Repeals the requirement for financial assurance adequate to cover the cost of long-term maintenance and monitoring; implementation of mitigation measures; and restoration of adversely impacted property.

  • Repeals the requirement that an applicant for a terminal groin demonstrate that nonstructural erosion control methods are impractical.

  • Repeals the prohibition on the use of certain types of local government financing for terminal groin construction.

Section 3 of the bill amends CAMA permitting law to state that review of a CAMA permit application shall be limited to consideration of areas of environmental concern officially designated at the time the application was submitted.

Section 4 gives local governments authority to enforce public trust rights on ocean beaches seaward of the mean high water mark.Passed the Senate on May 15, referred to House Environment committee.

HB 300 - Cities/Public Trust Rights:Gives cities and towns the right to enforce local ordinances on ocean beaches.Passed the House on May 15; referred to Senate State and Local Government committee.

SB 112 – Amend Environmental Laws 2013: Amends the Dredge and Fill Law to allow signed statements of no objection by adjacent property owners to be considered as an acceptable alternative to certified mail requirements for adjacent property owner notification under CAMA Major Permits. This would allow applications to proceed more expeditiously by eliminating a 30-day comment period when adjacent property owners have no objection, and would reduce costs associated with certified mail.Passed the Senate May 15,referred to House Environment committee.

Legal Update of Active Cases

Cases in the North Carolina Court of Appeals:

The Riggings HOA v. CRC(New Hanover 09 CVS 2761) - Judicial review of the CRC’s denial of a variance on re-hearing to allow expired sandbags to remain with no definite end date. The Court heard oral argument on April 10, and the parties are awaiting the Court’s ruling.

Busik v. CRC and 1118 Longwood(Brunswick 11 CVS 2596) - CRC’s Final Agency Decision regarding the interpretation of the ocean erosion setback rule (15A NCAC 7H .0306).  The court heard oral argument on June 5 and the parties are awaiting the court’s ruling.

Cases in Wake County Superior Court:

Defenders of Wildlife & NWRA v. CRC (12 CVS 16364) – Appeal by Petitioners of the CRC chairman’s denial of their request for a hearing in OAH to challenge the Bonner Bridge Replacement CAMA Permit, pursuant to 113A-121.1. The case is scheduled for hearing on June 25, 2013.