Advocacy: Northeast Coast 

Preserving Manns Harbor Access and Tradition

Commercial use portion of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Manns Harbor Access Area.

For over 75 years, Manns Harbor’s access to the Croatan Sound was through the Manns Harbor Marina. Several years ago, the mainland’s only waterfront access was threatened with plans for condominiums, a dry-stack boat storage facility, and no public dock space. Local opposition to the privatized site plans was high, given the traditional industries that had been dependent upon the marina for generations.

In a perfect synthesis of legislative prowess and local activism, the Waterfront Access and Marine Industry (WAMI) fund was created by the 2007 General Assembly and used to purchase the old Manns Harbor Marina. With an opportunity to set state-wide precedence, the new N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission facility in Manns Harbor is designed to accommodate both recreational and commercial boaters with ramps and piers, in addition to kayak and educational facilities. The federation is working closely with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, Manns Harbor Civic Association, Dare County, and commercial fishermen to create a management structure for their commercial facilities. The recreational facilities planned for Phase I of the project have been completed. Once management protocols have been established for Phase II (commercial) users, the site construction will move forward. Through collaborative efforts, the old Manns Harbor Marina will soon be revived for use by all of those who love the water.
 

Plan Will Help Restore Hydrology on Hyde Farms, Protect Pamlico

With support from the Environmental Protection Agency and the state’s Division of Water Quality, the federation and Mattamuskeet Drainage Association completed a watershed-wide restoration plan. In an effort to restore historic shellfishing beds in northern Hyde County, the 42,500 acre agricultural drainage district has been working closely with the federation and other stakeholders over several years to restore natural hydrology. The plan outlines voluntary parameters and goals for reducing the amount of pumped agricultural runoff that leaves the drainage association. Restoration projects are continuing to be planned, completed and implemented on association lands in an effort to reopen the closed shellfish waters of Otter Creek, Berry’s Bay and the Pamlico Sound near the Fifth Avenue drainage canal.  

Fifth Avenue drainage canal

The association's plan builds on several years of restoration work by the federation in mainland Hyde and Dare counties, which comprise the broad thumb known as the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula. In 2004 federation staff members began working with a group of scientists and conservationists to identify potential sites for oyster restoration in northern waters. The group found numerous sites off Hyde County that once had a thriving oyster industry. Staff members then contacted a group of local farmers and landholders to locate areas where land-based restoration projects might reduce water flowing from the canals. Lux Farms in northeast Hyde was pinpointed as having tremendous potential for hydrologic restoration. The Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust funded this work.

The N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund provided a grant to design a 4,200-acre restoration project on Lux Farms, which contained several low areas where runoff could be held in ponds for irrigation. In fall 2011, the federation received the go-ahead to complete it—along with approval of a grant to build the first phase on 1,400 acres. Together the projects will significantly reduce the stormwater output from the canals.

Since then, several projects have been implemented and identified. To improve this process, the creation of the watershed restoration plan has helped to identify projects, as well as rank them by their potential to reduce bacteria in local waters.

 

Partnership Hopes to Restore Atlantic White Cedar

Atlantic white cedar foliage. Photo courtesy USDA NRCS

The federation is partnering with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore 50 acres of Atlantic white cedar to private lands in northeastern North Carolina. 

Once a thriving native ecosystem throughout the Albemarle-Pamlico peninsula, North Carolina was once known for having more than half of the original cedar stands on the Eastern seaboard. Today, cedat forests have declined to less than 5 percent of their original acreage. Once the Great Dismal Swamp and Alligator River refuges were drained for agriculture use, the numbers of naturally occurring white cedar decreased significantly. Known as juniper in North Carolina, these trees were used heavily in boat building and decoy crafts. 

The peninsula has been designated as a focus area by North Carolina Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, where restoring forested wetlands is a primary goal for the area. Ecologically, juniper provides numerous forest benefits:

  • Supports a higher number of birds than other types of forest
  • Provides food and cover to wintering birds and other wildlife
  • Improves water quality
  • Controls erosion
  • Reduces high concentrations of nitrogen and mercury in soils

To foster the restoration of these historically valuable ecosystems, the federation is offering an 80/20 cost-share program, where the landowner’s 20 percent can be an in-kind donation. 

If you have land in northeastern North Carolina you believe may be suitable for AWC restoration and want to find out more about our program, please contact Christine Miller or Ladd Bayliss.

See Coastal Review Online story: