The N.C. Coastal Reserve & National Estuarine Research Reserve is a program of the N.C. Division of Coastal Management, a division of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. The N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve is managed through a federal-state partnership between NOAA and the N.C. Division of Coastal Management.
NOAA Office for Coastal Management
The Office for Coastal Management (OCM), part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), provides national leadership, strategic direction, and guidance to state and territory coastal programs and National Estuarine Research Reserves. The Office further works with state and territory coastal resource managers to develop a scientifically-based, comprehensive national system of marine protected areas (MPA) and supports effective management and sound science to protect, sustain, and restore coral reef ecosystems. These activities are mandated by the Coastal Zone Management Act, the MPA Executive Order, and the Coral Reef Conservation Act. The Office is comprised of four programs: Coastal Zone Management, National Estuarine Research Reserves, Digital Coast, Coral Reef Conservation.
National Estuarine Research Reserve System
The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is a network of protected areas established for long-term research, education, and stewardship. This partnership program between NOAA and the coastal states protects more than one million acres of estuarine land and water, which provides essential habitat for wildlife; offers educational opportunities for students, teachers and the public; and serves as living laboratories for scientists. The Reserve System currently consists of 29 reserves in 24 states and territories, protecting over one million acres of estuarine lands and waters.
North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality
The state partner of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve is the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)/Division of Coastal Management (DCM). The mission of DEQ is to provide science-based environmental stewardship for the health and prosperity of all North Carolininians.
DEQ is the lead stewardship agency for the preservation and protection of North Carolina's outstanding natural resources. The organization, which has offices from the mountains to the coast, administers regulatory programs designed to protect air quality, water quality, and the public's health. DEQ also offers technical assistance to businesses, farmers, local governments, and the public and encourages responsible behavior with respect to the environment through education programs provided at DEQ facilities and through the state's school system.
North Carolina Division of Coastal Management
DCM works to protect, conserve, and manage North Carolina's coastal resources through an integrated program of planning, permitting, education and research. DCM carries out the state's Coastal Area Management Act, the Dredge and Fill Law, and the federal Coastal Zone Management Act in the 20 coastal counties, using rules and policies of the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission, known as the CRC.
North Carolina Natural Heritage Program
Reserve sites are designated as State Nature Preserves by the State and, as such, are subject to management guidance and principles administered by the N.C. Natural Heritage Program (NHP), which is part of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. The Reserve works with the NHP protect and maintain each site’s natural resources in as nearly a natural condition as possible as public trust resources.
University of North Carolina at Wilmington
The University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) has provided administrative and staffing support for the Reserve since 1989. This partnership also allows for collaboration with faculty from UNCW’s Biology, Marine Biology, and Environmental Studies departments. Faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students conduct research projects on the Reserve’s southern sites and NCCR staff consult with faculty on-site management and coastal resource issues.
Friends of the Reserve
Friends of the Reserve (FOR) is a non-profit organization that works to support the North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve. Through fundraising, advocacy, and public outreach FOR supports the Reserve's education, stewardship, and research programs. The FOR strategic plan outlines its role in supporting the Reserve.
National Estuarine Research Reserve Association
The National Estuarine Research Reserve Association (NERRA) is a national nonprofit organization established in 1987 to advance the work of the reserve system. Reserves and their regional friends groups rely on NERRA to help enhance successful programs, strengthen the network, and enable reserves to better address growing challenges to our nation’s estuaries, coasts, and communities. NERRA communicates the funding needs and priorities of the reserves to Congress and federal agencies and educates the general public about the importance of estuaries and coasts.