A virtual public hearing on proposed rule changes for the North Carolina Coastal Reserve will begin at 12:30 p.m. Thursday on the WebEx platform.
The Department of Environmental Quality is proposing the amendments based on staff experiences managing the reserve and its components and on feedback from the reserve’s 10 advisory committees.
The proposed changes are to help better manage the reserve and its components in accordance with the Coastal Area Management Act, officials said. The proposed effective date is Nov. 1.
Among the proposed amendments is the clarification of what is allowed and what is prohibited within the reserve sites to ensure the purposes of the program and components are met.
There is also the addition of a section that describes the processes to request a special activity authorization. The special activity authorization addition addresses requests received by the division for special activities such as organized events, commercial activities or other special activities or uses at reserve sites that are not included in the primary uses of research, education and compatible traditional uses. No fees are required to apply for or receive a special activity authorization.
The proposed amendments are to satisfy the state’s periodic review and readoption requirements as well as help make existing rules clearer. Many of the changes are technical corrections and minor clarifications.
The statement of purpose, or introduction to the rules, was revised to focus on traditional uses and other uses. Traditional uses is now defined as public trust uses — fishing, hunting, navigation and recreation — to be consistent with CAMA’s definition. The phrase “traditional recreational uses” was removed, which was not defined, and staff, users and local advisory committees found it challenging to interpret consistently over time.
“This language revision does not change the type of uses that are currently allowed to occur at reserve components,” according to the fiscal analysis for the proposed changes to the statement of purpose.
The state protects more than 44,000 acres across 10 protected sites in eight coastal counties for long-term research, education and stewardship along the coast under Subchapter 07O, which establishes the purpose and responsibilities of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve, including its components, advisory committees and management.
The 10 North Carolina Coastal Reserve sites are Zeke’s Island, Rachel Carson, Currituck Banks, Masonboro Island, Permuda Island, Buxton Woods, Bald Head Woods, Kitty Hawk Woods, Bird Island and Emily and Richardson Preyer Buckridge.
The North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve is a program of the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management, a division of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. The North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve is managed through a federal-state partnership between NOAA and the state Division of Coastal Management.
Use the link to attend the Aug. 26 meeting by video conference. To join by phone call 415-655-0003, use event number 161 447 4842 and password 1234. To speak during the meeting, sign up online by 5 p.m. Aug. 25.
Comments can also be submitted until Sept. 13 to Rebecca Ellin by mail to NC Division of Coastal Management, 400 Commerce Ave., Morehead City, NC 28557 by telephone at by calling 252-838-0880 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include “PUBLIC COMMENT” in the subject line.