The North Carolina Environmental Management Commission is set to review next month the draft amendment to the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan, which is revised every five years to reflect changes in the status of habitat protection in the state.
Committee meetings begin at 9 a.m. Sept. 8 for the Air Quality Committee, Groundwater and Waste Management Committee and Water Quality Committee. The virtual, full commission meeting begins at 9 a.m. Sept. 9. The public is invited to attend the meeting online or by phone. Access the EMC meetings through the state Department of Environmental Quality website.
The commission when it meets remotely also will look at approving the 2021 Pasquotank River Basin Water Resources Plan and rule changes to address a permitting gap created by recent changes to Clean Water Act Federal Jurisdiction for wetlands in certain landscape positions.
The draft habitat plan 2021 amendment focuses on the following five priority issues:
- Submerged aquatic vegetation, or SAV, protection and restoration through water quality improvements.
- Wetland protection and restoration through nature-based solutions.
- Environmental rule compliance to protect coastal habitats.
- Wastewater infrastructure solutions for water quality improvement.
- Coastal habitat mapping and monitoring to assess status and trends.
The request is approval to take the draft plan out for public comment.
The North Carolina Marine Fisheries, Environmental Management and Coastal Resources Commissions unanimously adopted the North Carolina Coastal Habitat Protection Plan in December 2004 to protect coastal fisheries through habitat protection and enhancement efforts, according to NCDEQ.
The document provides information on the habitats’ distribution and abundance, ecological functions and importance to fish production, status and trends, threats to the habitats, and includes recommendations to address threats.
The North Carolina Coastal Habitat Coalition, an independent stakeholder workgroup headed up by the North Carolina Coastal Federation, which publishes Coastal Review, and The Pew Charitable Trusts submitted a document earlier this month to the North Carolina Coastal Habitat Protection Plan Steering Committee recommending actions the state and stakeholders should take to improve water quality in the next five years. The document is included in the agenda packet.
The Environmental Management Commission is responsible for adopting rules for the protection, preservation and enhancement of the state’s air, land and water resources. The commission oversees and adopts rules for several divisions of the Department of Environmental Quality, including the divisions of Air Quality; Energy, Mineral and Land Resources; Waste Management and Water Resources.