North Carolina’s coastal habitats within the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan regions. Map: CHPP amendment 2021

NC - Environment commission to review coastal protection plan

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.

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