Lifetime Achievement Award
Marc Basnight, whose roots reach back more than three centuries in Dare County, is the best champion the N.C. coast ever had. Yes, we didn’t always see eye-to-eye on all issues. In the final analysis, however, there is no doubt that he made the coast a much better place because of his years of public service.
During his 26 years in the state Senate – the last 17 as president pro tempore – Basnight grew to be the most politically powerful man in the state. He outlasted governors, opponents and many of his closest colleagues. He also developed a reputation for ferociousness when it came to defending favorite causes – a number of which included protections for coastal waters.
The N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund became one of Basnight’s most cherished legacies to conservation. Since its inception in 1996, the fund has distributed almost a billion dollars in more than 1,500 grants. The money has been used to buy sensitive lands threatened by development, clean up hog lagoons, improve sewer plants and reduce stormwater runoff. It also bankrolled major planning initiatives, including a blueprint for restoring the state’s once-great oyster population.
Basnight’s contributions to stemming pollution also included a bill in 1997 to tighten regulations on hog farms and municipal sewage treatment plants. He also began pushing for the use of stormwater controls like cisterns and rain gardens. He voluntarily installed many stormwater controls at his Lone Cedar restaurant in Nags Head.
Long a supporter of jetties at Oregon Inlet, Basnight shepherded through a bill that banned hardened structures along much of the beach elsewhere. However, conservation groups were disappointed a few years later when a Basnight-led Senate passed a bill to weaken the seawall ban to allow small jetties, or terminal groins, at several more inlets.
Such was the yin and yang of Marc Basnight. But this much is certain: We’re not likely to see the likes of him again. He got many good things done precisely because he had little patience for bureaucratic red tape that interfered with his ability to be responsive to his constituents. His proud accomplishments demonstrate his love for the coast and its people. Thank you, sir.
Board of Directors, N.C. Press Association
For recognizing the changing media landscape by supporting Coastal Review Online’s membership in the N.C. Press Association.
The Board of Directors of the N.C. Press Association showed a great deal of foresight and more than a bit of courage when it approved Coastal Review Online’s application for membership into the only professional journalism trade group in the state. The publisher of the online news service is, after all, the N.C. Coastal Federation, a well-known environmental advocacy group.
Advocacy and journalism normally don’t mix. The board, though, recognized that the media world is changing and was confident that Coastal Review Online’s high level of reporting and writing met journalistic standards of fairness and accuracy. It approved our application unanimously. Becoming a member of the association gave the fledgling publication recognition as a credible, journalistic source of news about our coast.
For his dedicated career in oyster restoration
Craig Hardy has been with the Division of Marine Fisheries for nearly 30 years, most recently as the chief of the Habitat and Enhancement Section. He is a champion for the management and restoration of oysters in the state, a “keystone” species in our estuaries. From working on barges deploying shells to leading the Habitat and Enhancement Section, Craig has taken a hands-on approach to shaping and directing the division’s oyster enhancement and restoration program.
He is a leader in recognizing that while oysters are a very important fishery, they are equally important for the ecosystem services they provide. Craig started the state’s award-winning shell recycling program, and he oversaw the expansion and implementation of the oyster sanctuary program. He’s always willing to work with anyone who had a good idea, from researchers to oyster gardeners to conservation groups, and he always has a smile on his face and a can-do attitude. He has been instrumental to the federation and our efforts to partner and restore oysters in the state. We will miss him and his guidance dearly when he retires in 2015.
The UNCW William Madison Randall Library
For cataloging the federation’s collection of documents making them accessible as a permanent coastal education resource
Not many institutions would willingly accept three van loads of file boxes to archive, but that is what the UNCW William Madison Randall Library did with the N.C. Coastal Federation’s records. What were 20 filing cabinets filled with papers representing the years 1982 to 2004 have been transferred to the Special Collections unit of the library. Special Collections Coordinator Jerry Parnell and his staff, after organizing the files and preparing an online index, made them available to the public, students, faculty and federation staff.
Taken as a whole, the papers provide an overview of the life of the coast from 1982-2004. The files also provide a wealth of research, lessons learned and evolved strategies that can be used to address new and recurring issues.
Glenn Blackburn, a long-time federation member, author and historian, worked with the library to set up the archive project. His 52 oral interviews of federation staff, members and volunteers flesh out the facts with the human story behind them. “The records,” says the library, “chronicle the transformation of the N.C. Coastal Federation from a small group concerned with coastal issues to an active, influential participant in N.C. coastal management.”
For his significant contribution to land conservation and wetland restoration
Bill Edwards is charged with implementing the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) in eastern N.C. As part of this work he helps to prioritize and secure permanent conservation easements on private lands and then restores them to wetlands. Bill has gone above and beyond his duties to ensure that lands enrolled in the WRP program not only meet their program goals, but also help to further the federation’s water quality and habitat goals.
He’s helped to place over 30,000 acres of land into easements in Hyde County and Carteret County. These lands have become federation signature projects known as the North River Farms and the Mattamuskeet Drainage Association wetland restoration projects. He provides expert guidance and insight on best management practices for restoration of these farm lands. Bill makes sure that the WRP program does as much good as possible to benefit our coast.
For his dedication to the coast and enthusiastic help with all federation efforts
Ernest Boyce has given countless hours supporting the northeast in such a variety of events. He has been an educator and taken on the task of leading activities during outreach events; he has helped with restoration work and endured the heat of hot, windless days; and he’s been an advocate distributing newsletters and explaining the federation’s mission.
Ernest approaches every task with confidence and never hesitates to do more or stay longer. The northeast staff usually has to remind him to take a break, if it were up to him, he wouldn’t!
What is even more astounding, Ernest does not live on the northeast coast year-round. Though his permanent home and job keep him occupied a couple hours inland of the Manteo office, he is thoughtful enough to plan his trips to the coast around the federation’s events. We are forever grateful for Ernest’s dependability, generosity and willingness to dedicate his personal time off to volunteer with us.
For making working waterfronts a workable idea
A native of the Outer Banks and lifelong commercial fisherman, Troy Outland is a pioneer of cooperation among recreational and commercial fishing interests in northeastern North Carolina.
Most recently, Troy’s efforts preserved traditional commercial access to the historic Manns Harbor Marina. In collaboration with the federation, Troy helped establish the Manns Harbor Commission, a county-appointed board comprised of commercial and recreational fishermen. He’s now the chairman of the commission, which manages the first state-funded, shared-use working waterfront. His dedication and perseverance got the job done, and the coast is a better place for it.
For leading efforts to halt the massive wetland ditching and draining in Pamlico County
According to Wikipedia, the phrase “Nixon goes to China” refers to the ability of a politician with an unassailable reputation among his supporters for representing and defending their values to take actions that would draw their criticism and even opposition if taken by someone without those credentials.
Allen Propst is a successful realtor in Pamlico County. Given his background, many people listened last fall when he spoke out against plans to convert nearly 4,600 acres of forested wetlands to agricultural land. His efforts resulted in hundreds of people writing emails and attending county commissioner meetings, letters from county leaders to federal agencies and enforcement action by the U.S. EPA. Allen raised the alarm at the same time EPA reported that wetland losses in the country occur at a rate of seven football fields each hour. Allen showed that much of this loss happens because regulatory safeguards for wetlands are not enforced.
Allen has lived in the county since 1977 and owns Mariner Realty. He is past president of the county’s Board of Realtors and the Oriental Rotary Club. His love and knowledge of wildlife is evident as he names every bird, plant and animal he sees or hears. The vast wetlands of Pamlico County could not have a better friend than Allen.
For his loyal stewardship of the Hoop Pole Creek Nature Preserve and commitment to the federation
Bill Hettler is a trail steward extraordinaire. He began volunteering with the federation in 2011, spending much of his time bagging oyster shells and planting salt marsh grass for habitat restoration projects at Jones Island. That same year, he became the trail steward for the Hoop Pole Creek Nature Preserve in Atlantic Beach, maintaining the trail for hundreds of visitors to enjoy annually.
Since then, Bill has taken the Hoop Pole Creek Trail under his wing and provided the care and nurturing it deserves as one of the most spectacular nature trails along the coast. In addition to maintaining the Hoop Pole Creek Trail, Bill has helped with the annual Hoop Pole Creek clean-up and our Native Plant Sale. Since he began volunteering, Bill has donated more than 175 hours of his time to support the federation.
Trinity Center and Sound to Sea Program
For their leadership in installing a living shoreline in Bogue Sound
Trinity Center is a retreat, worship and environmental education center of the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of East Carolina. Numerous storms, particularly Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, significantly eroded the center’s shoreline at Sanders Point, its cherished landmark and worship area.
Worried about losing their treasured shore, plans were made in 2013 to put in a vinyl breakwater. But the Trinity Center’s Sound to Sea environmental educators immediately recognized that this would adversely affect the valuable salt marsh and oyster habitat that they teach people about.
They went above and beyond their job responsibilities and were determined to find a more environmentally friendly alternative. They contacted the federation for help and after receiving information on living shorelines, they convinced the center to pursue an oyster shell bag sill with salt marsh grass plantings instead. The educators and federation worked extremely hard to permit the project, obtain the recycled oyster shells, bag them and place them along the shoreline. They also planted thousands of plugs of salt marsh grass. Sanders Point will remain an outdoor classroom thanks to the dedication of the Sound to Sea educators.
Town of Wrightsville Beach
For the town’s partnership and support in establishing the Fred and Alice Stanback Coastal Education Center and the federation’s new southeast office
In August 2012, the federation received a donated historic 1948 Wrightsville Beach Craftsman-style cottage. On May 3, 2014, the building was christened as the Fred and Alice Stanback Coastal Education Center and the federation’s southeast office. During those 21 months, the federation obtained numerous permits, executed nearly a dozen legal agreements, hired house movers to transport the house by sea and by land to its current location in Wrightsville Beach, and worked with a small army of contractors and volunteers to renovate the former home into the federation’s southeast office.
None of this would have happened without the involvement of numerous partners, who ensured that the project would come to fruition. The Town of Wrightsville Beach, including the Mayor and Board of Aldermen, the town attorney, the expert staff of the Building and Planning Departments and members of the Wrightsville Beach Historic Landmark Commission, supported the project at every step, despite numerous challenges and constraints. For their constant commitment of time, talents and resources to this project and to the federation, we are extremely pleased to honor the Town of Wrightsville Beach.
For being a local champion and pioneer of Low-impact Development
Like other developers, Burrows Smith used pipes, ponds and other conventional techniques to direct and control stormwater runoff on his many development projects in New Hanover County. But after learning about a new stormwater management approach that makes use of the land to absorb stormwater, he’s become a strong advocate of Low-Impact Development (LID).
Burrows is vice president and managing partner of River Bluffs Development Group and one of the strongest proponents of LID you’ll ever meet. Knowing that LID strategies are a sound, common sense approach for protecting water quality, reducing construction costs and developing land, Burrows refused to take no for an answer as he worked with local and state regulators to permit the novel technique in eastern North Carolina. His persistence paid off, and now Burrows is on a roll, implementing LID on his 315-acre development in Castle Hayne. He has installed permeable paving and rain water harvesting systems, minimized tree disturbance and most important of all, directed all the stormwater into the ground before it becomes polluted runoff.
Burrows has demonstrated what can be achieved when you believe in the work you are doing and engage partners in your quest. His result is a model development that is being showcased all over the state and nation.
Lakes of Lockwood Homeowners Association
For installing 56 rain barrels and eight rain gardens with the Smart Yards Program
Lakes of Lockwood residents didn’t shy away when they were invited to participate in a pilot stormwater project. Instead, this community along the Lockwood Folly River in Brunswick County welcomed the federation into their neighborhood and eagerly and graciously worked with us to tackle polluted runoff.
Through the federation’s Smart Yards Community Landscape project, the neighborhood recently installed 56 rain barrels and eight rain gardens.
The federation made a long-term commitment to clean up the impaired waters of the Lockwood Folly watershed. A 2007 study identified the need to reduce stormwater runoff on a lot-by-lot basis on most of the developed lands in the county. That’s because stormwater generally isn’t soaking into the ground the way it did before the land was made impervious by parking lots, rooftops and streets. Instead stormwater runoff is now directed to streets, pipes and ditches that flow to our coastal waters and pollute them. Hats off to the dedicated residents of Lakes of Lockwood who are committed to turning the tide on stormwater runoff. They set a wonderful example for how people can be good stewards of our coast and how together we can make a difference in its future.
For leading efforts to provide sound environmental safeguards via adoption of New Hanover County’s Special Use Permit process
As the former planning manager for New Hanover County, Shawn Ralston has seen it all. For over eight years Shawn was intimately involved in shaping the growth of New Hanover County by serving in various capacities within the county’s development services department.
Shawn’s passion is environmental planning, and she worked to advocate for Low-Impact Development standards that help protect water quality, championed N.C.’s first “No Discharge Zone” in the Intracoastal Waterway and met with EPA administrator Gina McCarthy to plead the county’s case regarding the new sulfur dioxide standard.
Shawn’s greatest impact on the growth and development of the Cape Fear region was her leadership in the development and passage of the county’s first refinement to its 60-year-old zoning ordinance. She was instrumental in the adoption of the Special Use Permit process, which requires that heavy industrial polluters obtain local approval for their projects.
This new local review will be instrumental in determining whether Titan Cement will be able to build their massive cement plant and mine on the shores of the Cape Fear River.
The people who live, work and play on the southeast coast will be forever grateful to Shawn for her tireless leadership and vision for a better community.
For being a dedicated, persistent and effective advocate for our coast
Sue Weddle and her husband Owen are long-time residents of Sunset Beach. They retired to the coast to “get away from it all” and enjoy it as many people do. But Sue found she could not relax when she saw coastal resources being threatened by unwise or poorly planned land uses. She soon found herself serving on local and state-appointed environmental review committees and frequently became a leader in heated public policy debates or permit reviews in her efforts to protect the integrity of the coast’s shifting sands, fragile marshes, water quality and public access. Sue continues to advocate for effective coastal stormwater regulations and always keeps an eye on how well coastal development rules are being enforced.
She never leaves a stone unturned, a deed unread or a permit unchallenged if she believes that something is being proposed that unnecessarily hurts the health and productivity of the coastal environment.