Fall 2012

Director's Note:

As the holidays approach, I’ve been reflecting on the past year (my first with the Division) and taking stock of the various issues and challenges we’ve faced, along with some of our more notable accomplishments. In this newsletter, we’ve highlighted some of those accomplishments, including the streamlining of regulatory requirements for certain types of coastal development, an update of our long-term average annual erosion rates, digital mapping of the state’s estuarine shoreline, and the completion of a collaborative project studying estuarine shoreline stabilization methods.

Looking ahead to 2013, the Division and the Coastal Resources Commission will continue to work on significant coastal issues, including three studies required by Session Law 2012-202 related to sea-level rise in North Carolina, the feasibility of creating a new Area of Environmental Concern for lands adjacent to the mouth of the Cape Fear River, and an evaluation of beachfront “Inlet Hazard Areas of Environmental Concern.” We will continue to keep you updated on these and other issues through future CAMAgram newsletters, our website, and Coastal Resources Commission meetings.

Please feel free to 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 to Michele.Walker@ncdenr.gov. Additional coastal program information can also be found on our web site, http://www.nccoastalmanagement.net.

Wishing you happy holidays, and we look forward to another great year in coastal North Carolina.

Braxton Davis, Director, NC Division of Coastal Management

In this Issue:
- DCM Continues Hurricane Response Efforts for Irene, Sandy
- CRC Members Tour Agricultural Areas in Hyde County
- CICEET Project
- Estuarine Shoreline Stabilization Study Project Completed
- Jones Award Winners Honored
- Coastal Training Program Workshops Offered
- Staff Kudos
- DCM Accomplishments in 2012
- 2013 CRC Meetings Schedule
- Legal Update

DCM Continues Hurricane Response Efforts for Irene, Sandy
In late October, Hurricane Sandy topped off what had been a quiet storm season for North Carolina. In response to damage caused by the storm, DENR secretary Dee Freeman activated an emergency CAMA general permit to allow beach bulldozing for the reconstruction of primary and frontal dune systems in oceanfront counties. DCM also opened an emergency office in Southern Shores to assist property owners in the Outer Banks, where damage was heaviest. To date, DCM has issued 143 CAMA emergency permits for beach bulldozing in the Outer Banks.

One year after Hurricane Irene struck eastern North Carolina, DCM recognized that many property owners had been unable to complete repairs of hurricane-damaged structures under an emergency CAMA general permit issued immediately following the storm, in many cases due to difficulties in securing contractors or settling insurance claims. In response, the division extended the permit deadline by an additional 120 days. The new deadline to complete construction on these projects is Dec. 27, 2012.

The division also worked closely with the N.C. Dept. of Transportation to facilitate repairs to Hwy. N.C. 12 in the Outer Banks following damage from both storms. To assist NCDOT with repairs, DCM has issued two emergency CAMA major permits and subsequent emergency permit modifications. The Coastal Resources Commission also held an expedited hearing in Nov. 2012 to grant a variance for NCDOT repairs at a section of NC-12 known as the Rodanthe ‘S’ curves. 

For more information, contact Frank Jennings at Frank.Jennings@ncdenr.gov or Doug Huggett at Doug.Huggett@ncdenr.gov.

CRC Members Tour Agricultural Areas in Hyde County
Coastal Resource Commission and Coastal Resources Advisory Council members joined DCM staff, Hyde Co. local government representatives and local farmers for a tour of Hyde County agricultural issues during the CRC’s November meeting. Much of the county’s farmland was reclaimed from marshland as long ago as the 1800s, when the first of many agricultural drainage ditches were built to help drain saltwater from farmland. Today, Hyde County’s farmland is bordered by miles of drainage ditches, assisted by pumps, flood gates and dikes to manage water levels. Mac Gibbs from Hyde Co. Cooperative Extension, Erin Fleckenstein from the Coastal Federation, and local farmer Ray Tooley were among the speakers discussing the effects of saltwater intrusion and sea-level rise in the area, along with the effectiveness of local dikes, tailwater recovery on agricultural land, and permitting issues related to clearing drainage ditches.

For more information, contact David Moye at David.Moye@ncdenr.gov.

Estuarine Shoreline Stabilization Study Project Completed
The N.C. Coastal Reserve program recently completed a two-year collaborative project on estuarine shoreline stabilization. Reserve staff partnered with NOAA and University partners on the project, “Sustainable estuarine shoreline stabilization: research, education, and public policy in North Carolina,” which was funded by the Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology (CICEET). The project was designed to find out how bulkheads impact fringing marsh and the ecosystem services they provide. Ecosystem services include habitat for birds, fish and shellfish; water filtration to protect water quality; and erosion control. Eighteen sample sites were studied to help determine how bulkheaded sites with no marsh, narrow marsh or wide marsh areas impact the local ecosystem, compared to areas of natural marsh.

As part of the study, an alternative shoreline stabilization demonstration project was installed on the east end of the Rachel Carson Reserve in Beaufort. Reserve staff also conducted surveys of homeowners and contractors to discover their attitudes towards various methods of estuarine shoreline stabilization, and produced two publications aimed at educating students and citizens about estuaries, and helping homeowners identify the most appropriate method of shoreline stabilization for their property.

Results from the project indicate that natural marshes provide higher levels of ecosystem services than marshes associated with bulkheads; and that small, narrow fringing marshes in front of bulkheads are still capable of providing important ecosystem services compared to bulkhead sites that have no marsh.

Additional details of project results, including analysis of the relationship between marsh width and nutrient cycling, wave attenuation, and fish and bird habitat, are available at http://www.nccoastalreserve.net/Research/Estuarine-Shoreline-Stabilizati....

For more information, contact John Fear at John.Fear@ncdenr.gov.

DCM, Sea Grant Honor Walter B. Jones Award Winners
N.C. Coastal Management and N.C. Sea Grant were delighted to recognize North Carolina winners of NOAA’s 2012 Walter B. Jones Awards during the November meeting of the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission. The awards are given every other year to honor the people and organizations of America for their dedication and outstanding contributions in helping the nation maintain healthy coastal and ocean resources and balance the needs of these resources with human use. The awards are named for Walter B. Jones, Sr., who represented North Carolina in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1966 to 1992. This year, six N.C. graduate students and the Town of Plymouth are among the winners – overall, seven of the 14 award winners were from North Carolina.





Jack Thigpen, Extension Director-N.C. Sea Grant; Brian Roth, Mayor-Town of Plymouth; Michelle Covi, ECU; Michelle Brodeur, UNC-CH; Bob Emory, Chair-NC Coastal Resources Commission; Rachel Gittman, UNC-CH; Timothy Ellis, NCSU; Braxton Davis, Director-NCDCM. Not pictured: Jennifer Cudney-Burch, ECU; and Matthew McCarthy, UNC-W.

Coastal Training Program Workshops Offered
The Coastal Training Program will host a “Managing Visitor Use on Coastal Public Lands” workshop Jan. 23-24 at the NOAA-NERR Facility on Pivers Island in Beaufort. This two-day course led by instructors from NOAA's Coastal Services center provides participants with tools to identify and define unacceptable visitor use impacts to natural resources and visitor experiences. The training focuses on a step-by-step process that can be used to help determine these impacts and explore a range of strategies and tactics that can be implemented to address them.

“Low Impact Development Basics for Water Quality Protection Workshop for Realtors” will be held Feb. 12 in Beaufort. The goal of this workshop is to introduce realtors to the interconnectedness of land use choices and water quality. Participants will learn about the major pollutants that degrade water quality; sources of these pollutants; and methods to prevent this degradation, including stormwater management practices and low impact development. Realtors will receive four elective continuing education credits from the NC Real Estate Commission.

For more information, contact Whitney Jenkins at Whitney.Jenkins@ncdenr.gov.

Staff Kudos
In each newsletter we like to highlight recent kudos for our staff. Continuing efforts of DCM staff to provide the best customer service were recognized recently by one of our customers. From an email to DCM director Braxton Davis:

“My husband and I have just received the NCDENR permit for our boat basin project … and I would like to let you know the positive experience we have had with CAMA throughout the permitting process. Both Brad Connell and Daniel Govoni [from the Morehead City DCM office] have been very helpful, pleasant to deal with, and professional. Most important to me was the fact that these gentlemen were available to answer questions, that they returned phone calls and emails promptly, and I was able to communicate directly with them. I never felt as though I was a bother when contacting the CAMA agents and they were always very open in their communications with me. Daniel even went so far as to call me when the permit was signed and to email it to me to expedite matters! It was truly a pleasure dealing with CAMA.”

DCM is always proud of our staff’s commitment to providing our customers with the very best service!

Other DCM Accomplishments in 2012

  • The N.C. Coastal Resources Commission and the Division of Coastal Management moved forward with a number of rules intended to streamline regulatory requirements for certain types of coastal development. These rule amendments include changes to the CRC’s sandbag rules that will increase time limits and frequency of use for sandbag structures in certain areas; reduced sediment criteria sampling requirements for beach nourishment projects; a change in the formula used to calculate the Ocean Erodible Area of Environmental Concern; an update of long-term average annual erosion rates; and grandfathered setback requirements for oceanfront residential structures of more than 5,000 square feet.

  • Decreased average timelines on CAMA Major Permits from approximately 85 days to approximately 76 days.

  • Worked with the Division of Water Quality on a series of improvements and streamlining of CAMA major and general permits and shoreline buffer certifications.

  • DCM’s regulatory and compliance staff continued to monitor permitted projects, conduct routine aerial surveillance flights, and provide compliance assistance support to the public. More than 2,000 compliance monitoring inspections and more than 1,500 permit inspections were performed. The division had a 96 percent compliance rate of inspected permitted facilities.

  • Conducted training workshops for local permit officers in the coastal municipalities and counties that have a locally adopted implementation and enforcement Coastal Area Management Act program.

  • DCM and DWQ staff conducted a compliance workshop for the NC Surveyor’s Association in June with over 60 professional surveyors and engineers in attendance.

  • The N.C. Coastal Resources Commission approved an update of the long-term average annual oceanfront erosion rates for the N.C. coast. Improvements in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology allowed Division of Coastal Management staff to perform the update in-house for the first time, for a cost savings of about $250,000. The update also makes coastal communities eligible for reduced premiums through the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System. DCM uses long-term average annual erosion rates in determining setback distances for oceanfront development. The rates are expected to be effective in early 2013.

  • Certified six new Clean Marinas in coastal North Carolina and recertified 10 marinas as part of the division’s continuing effort to protect coastal water quality by assisting marinas and boatyards in protecting our environment through the use of best management and operation practices.

  • Registered 102 Clean Boaters as part of the division’s new Clean Boater Program. Boaters commit to clean boating by signing a pledge to protect North Carolina’s coastal waters, and receive a Clean Boater sticker from DCM to place on their vessel.

  • Reached more than 2,300 students, teachers, local government officials, coastal decision makers, and other members of the coastal community through workshops, reserve site field trips, summer camps, and other educational activities conducted by the staff of the N.C. Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve. Participants learned about the importance of estuaries, environmental stewardship, estuarine shoreline stabilization alternatives, low impact development, and research conducted at reserve sites. The Reserve program also utilized community and student volunteers in a variety of stewardship activities across the ten Reserve sites, from clean-ups to species monitoring, resulting in more than 1,200 hours of service to the program.

2013 CRC Meetings Schedule
Dates for 2013 CRC meetings are listed below. Meeting locations have not yet been determined.

• February 6-7, Wilmington
• April 24-26
• July 10-12
• September 25-27
• December 4-6

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.

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).

Cases in the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH):

Sansotta et al. v. DCM (12 EHR 1689) & Toloczko v. DCM (12 EHR 1690) - Appeal of DCM’s denial for developing new septic systems on six Nags Head lots because, among other reasons, they do not meet the ocean erosion setback.

Cherry Inc. v. DCM (12 EHR 2285) - Appeal of DCM’s denial for developing new septic systems on a lot in Nags Head because, among other reasons, it does not meet the ocean erosion setback.

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 CAMA Permit, pursuant to 113A-121.1.