Historical Highlights: 1982-1999


  • The federation was formed by Todd Miller, its executive director and first staff member, in response to threats from the peat mining industry. Todd ran the organization out of his house in Ocean in Carteret County.


  • The federation worked with fishermen in Onslow County to halt construction of condominiums on Permuda Island in Stump Sound. The state denied the permits three years later and the island is now publicly owned as a natural and historic estuary preserve.
  • With fishermen, environmentalists, scientists and citizens, the federation rallied to oppose peat mining of wetlands (photo right) between the Albemarle and Pamlico sounds. This movement gained national attention, including coverage on the CBS Evening News and PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Report.
  • Walter Conkite CBS evening newsPeat Methanol Association


  • The Peat Methanol Associates proposal to mine peat was defeated. Those wetlands formerly targeted for peat mining are now mostly preserved as national wildlife refuges.


  • A successful lawsuit was filed against the state for permitting a marina and condominiums on Hoop Pole Creek in Atlantic Beach. Eleven years later, the federation bought the property adjacent to open shellfishing. It is now permanently protected.
  • With three other groups, the federation filed a lawsuit against the N.C. Environmental Management Commission asking that three proposed Bogue Banks shopping centers require permits to discharge stormwater into Bogue Sound. Pressure eventually led to the state's adoption of more effective rules.


  • The federation mobilized citizen support for the Division of Environmental Management's proposed stormwater runoff rules.


  • With encouragement from the federation, Congress designated the estuaries of the Albemarle and Pamlico sounds as “National Concerns.” This designation led to the creation of the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine Study (APES).
  • The federation began working to ensure active citizen involvement and preparation in the APES Conservation Management Plan.


  • In partnership with other environmental groups, the federation filed a federal lawsuit over the failure of the Army Corps of Engineers to protect 404 wetlands.


  • Todd Miller, federation's executive director, accepted an invitation from Congress to testify at its water quality hearings.
  • The federation analyzed pollution from Texas Gulf Chemical Co. in Aurora and found that discharges from the company's phosphate mining operation did not conform to federal standards. The company installed an innovative waste recycling system that dramatically reduced phosphorus and fluoride discharges to the river.
  • The federation participated in public hearings on the environmental impact study prepared for Mobil Corporation's oil drilling exploration plan.


  • Stormwater runoff rules were strengthened and better rules to regulate marina sites in shellfish waters were obtained through federation efforts.
  • The federation took a leadership role in the state’s designation of 10 percent of coastal waters as Outstanding Resource Waters – the state’s most protective water quality classification.
  • Mobil Oil Exploratory Drilling
  • After much public pressure organized by the federation, Gov. Jim Martin publicly opposed Mobil Oil Corporation’s proposal to make exploratory drills off the N.C. coast.


  •  The federation helped mobilize citizens to oppose a proposal to allow seawalls and other types of hardened structures along the beaches. After a letter-writing campaign and public hearing the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission said that strong public support for the ban had swayed the commission to reject the proposal.


  • The federation started efforts to preserve Bird Island in Brunswick County when the owner announced plans to build a mile-long bridge to the island and develop the island for houses. The federation helped organize the Bird Island Society and continues today as a mentor to the group.


  • The federation expanded its environmental education program with improvements to the Hadnot Creek public nature trail and education center in Carteret County.


  • Year of the Coast Event
    With the state, the federation coordinated and promoted the statewide Year of the Coast event. The yearlong event focused on the value of our coastal environment and the fundamental causes of a deteriorating coast. The work grew out of the federation's Seeking a Coastal Water Quality Commitment: An Agenda for Action campaign.
  • In partnership with the N.C. Department of Environment, Health and Natural Resources, the federation developed the Save our Coast campaign to implement the recommendations that grew out of the Year of the Coast. Gov. Jim Hunt enthusiastically endorsed the recommendations.


  • The first annual State of the Coast Report was published and distributed to 100,000 households.
  • The federation partnered with seven other organizations from across the country to form Restore America’s Estuaries, a national coalition with the goal of restoring estuaries nationwide.


  • As one of 11 regional estuary environmental groups, the federation helped draft a federal bill by the national coalition, Restore America's Estuaries, to restore one million acres of estuarine habitat by 2010.
  • The N.C. General Assembly passed the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund passed with the support of the federation.
  • In partnership with the Sunset Beach Taxpayers Association, the federation succeeded in getting the state to authorize a comprehensive environmental analysis of the secondary impacts of central sewage systems along the coast.


  • The federation opened a field office in Wilmington.
  • The federation started the ShoreKeeper Program to encourage coastal residents to become more responsible and involved stewards of the environment.
  • The federation bought 31 acres along Hoop Pole Creek in Atlantic Beach with a $2.5 million from the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund. The parcel is now preserved as a nature area and nature walk.

Hoop Pole

  • The federation’s education program started two major restoration projects at Hoop Pole Creek: placing oyster shell (cultch) in the creek to restore an historic oyster bed and planting over 2,000 wetland plants in the marsh to restore a heavily damaged section of the wetland.
  • The state was assisted in its defense to ban sea walls when the federation became a third party to a lawsuit between the Shell Island Resort Homeowners Association and the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission. A superior court judge dismissed the suit, but his decision was appealed.
  • The federation helped rally people to oppose Chevron USA when it announced its intention to sink a test well 30 miles off Cape Hatteras.
  • With assistance from the federation, the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission proceeded with the creation of new rules to protect our shoreline along coastal rivers and sounds. 


  • Using a grant from the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the federation helped Hammocks Beach State Park buy Huggins Island, a 110-acre developable island in the White Oak River. Later in the year, the island was incorporated into Hammocks Beach State Park and permanently protected.
  • With help from the federation, a moratorium on new hog farms and expansion of existing farms in the state was extended until 2001.
  • The federation again helped to defend the state's ban on ocean seawalls as a third party in the Shell Island suit. The North Carolina Court of Appeals upheld the State's ban by unanimously deciding that the ban is constitutional.

2000 - Present