North Carolina and Virginia state agencies re-affirm commitment to collaborate on environmental issues within Albemarle-Pamlico estuarine system


In celebration of Estuaries Week, September 19-26, 2020, six environmental and natural resources agencies from North Carolina and Virginia are releasing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that re-affirms their commitment to foster interstate collaboration within the shared waterways of the Albemarle-Pamlico region.  

“We are proud to continue our partnership with our neighbors in Virginia and our fellow state agencies to protect this beautiful natural resource,” said Secretary Michael S. Regan of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. “The Albemarle-Pamlico Estuary is a reminder of how our actions impact our environment and why we must work together to restore and preserve these waters, especially as we face the potential impacts of climate change in our region.”

The MOU provides for the continued and expanded coordination and cooperation among the North Carolina Departments of Environmental Quality, Natural and Cultural Resources, and Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the Secretary of Natural Resources and the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry of the Commonwealth of Virginia and other key partners as named in the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership (APNEP) Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP).  The MOU furthers the intent of the MOU signed in 2017 and identifies additional joint efforts to advance shared goals toward the protection and restoration of water and ecosystem resources throughout the Albemarle-Pamlico watershed and estuarine system. 

“Congress designated the Albemarle-Pamlico estuary ‘an estuary of national significance’ in 1987, and the watershed supports a great deal of habitat and biodiversity, all the way to the Blue Ridge Mountains at the headwaters of the Roanoke River,” Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler said. “Virginia is committed to being a good steward of this region by advancing the identification and protection of critical lands with a deep-rooted Native American tribal history. We look forward to continuing the partnership with North Carolina to conserve and restore precious shared resources in the upper watershed.”

The MOU signing was facilitated by the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership (APNEP), a collaborative program that works to identify, protect, and restore the region’s significant resources, from its upstream rivers to the barrier islands where the estuary meets the ocean. “It is fitting that the renewed MOU be released during National Estuaries Week, which is an is an annual celebration and campaign to increase public awareness of estuaries and to encourage people to become involved in the protection of these important natural resources, said Dr. William Crowell, APNEP Director. 

The MOU highlights the importance of working together to improve the water quality and ecological health of the states’ shared river basins that flow into Albemarle Sound, including the Roanoke, Chowan, and Pasquotank River Basins.   

Agency signatories include:

  • Michael S. Regan, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality
  • Susi H. Hamilton, Secretary, North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
  • Steve W. Troxler, Commissioner, North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
  • Cameron N. Ingram, Executive Director, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
  • Matthew J. Strickler, Secretary of Natural Resources of the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Bettina K. Ring, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry of the Commonwealth of Virginia

With more than 3,000 square miles of open water, the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuary is the second largest estuarine complex in the contiguous United States.  Dr. William Crowell stated “this MOU is another step in bringing people together to conserve our shared resources and improve water quality in the estuary”. Spanning 43 counties in North Carolina and 38 counties and cities in Virginia, the watershed of the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuary is almost 31,500 square miles.

The MOU will assist the agencies in coordinating with APNEP to tackle regional issues such as nonpoint source pollution, restoring fish passage and spawning habitat, and controlling invasive species. Agencies will also continue to explore opportunities to assist state, regional, and local governments in incorporating climate change and sea level rise considerations into their planning processes.  

Read the full text of the memorandum and find out more about Interstate Collaboration in Shared Waterways at or contact Stacey Feken at 


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