The North Carolina Coastal Federation and the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation are working to restore approximately 10 acres of wetland habitat in Carolina Beach State Park. This is one of the habitat restoration projects selected by the natural resources trustee agencies (NOAA, USFWS, NCDEQ) to address environmental damages caused by 40 years of operations by the Kerr-McGee Chemical Corps. Located in Navassa in Brunswick County, the former Kerr-McGee facility treated wood products with creosote, leaving sediments and water on site laden with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).

These chemicals adversely affect ecological services by contaminating all levels of the aquatic food web and surrounding habitats to the point of ecological degradation. The site is now listed as the Kerr-McGee Superfund site.

Project Area

The goal of the Carolina Beach State Park project is to address the resource injury through restoration of similar habitats in the Lower Cape Fear River region. The project aims to restore and enhance tidal marsh habitat between the Sugarloaf and Swamp Trails, an area which has been highly disturbed. The land is owned by the US Department of Defense and managed by the Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point as part of its safety buffer zone. Although the site was once an area of healthy tidal marsh, it became dominated by an early successional invasive plant species Phragmites australis. The park and their partners have worked to remove the Phragmites through burning, pesticide treatment, and cutting. 

Restoration Details

The Federation and the project contractor worked with the park to design the native tidal wetland restoration project, which will be implemented in phases: 

  1. invasive species removal
  2. creation of a slough (a shallow swale of varying depths) through the removal of fill material and grading
  3. native vegetation planting
  4. monitoring

Construction is estimated to occur during the months of March through April 2023, with plantings and monitoring to take place through mid-year. 

If you have any questions about the Carolina Beach State Park Restoration Project, please contact Bree Charron, Water Quality Program Director via email at