North Carolina Coastal Conference

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The North Carolina Coastal Conference

Last week NC Sea Grant held the North Carolina Coastal Conference in Raleigh. The conference brought together government staff, researchers, businesses, and non governmental organizations to talk about coastal resiliency along our coast.

Coastal Carolina Riverwatch’s White Oak Waterkeeper attended this year’s conference to network with other North Carolina organizations and stay updated on current research and projects that help the environmental needs of our coastal communities.

PHOTO: LEWIS, 2022 – Presentation by Elizabeth Frankenberg, the Director of the Carolina Center for Population Aging and Health at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Day 1:

The first day of the conference began with opening comments from Susan White – NC Sea Grant Executive director, Elizabeth Biser – NC DEQ Secretary, and Jonathan Pannock – Natinal Sea Grant College Program Director. The remarks emphasized the importance of collaboration and the need for increased resiliency efforts along the coast.

According the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Coastal resilience means building the ability of a community to “bounce back” after hazardous events such as hurricanes, coastal storms, and flooding – rather than simply reacting to impacts.

The sessions that followed expanded on current resiliency plans being developed by the State of NC (like the Resilient Coastal Communities Program), projects being implemented in coastal communities (like the Todd D. Krafft Septic Health Initiative Program), and environmental threats that still need to be addressed.

In a session called “Buying Time Along the Coast” listeners heard from Karen Amspacher with the Core Sound Museum and students working with the Down East community to tackle the threat of Sea Level Rise and the resulting ghost forests encroaching on their homes. The Down East community is especially vulnerable because of their low elevation and susceptibility to flooding which can lead to water quality degradation in areas of flooded septic tanks. They are also an unincorporated community which can make it more difficult to be assisted by the State’s many different resiliency projects.

PHOTO: LEWIS, 2022 – Presentation by Brian Byfield with the NC Office of Recovery and Resiliency.
Day 2:

The last day of the conference began similarly with opening comments from Susan White, Randy Woodson – the Chancellor of NC State University, and Mladen Vouk – the Vice Chancellor of Research at NC State University. These remarks discussed the importance of data collection and the continual analysis of coastal environmental threats and human response.

The following session titled “Cross Cutting Coastal Resilience Efforts and Building Strategic Climate Partnerships” consisted of coastal resiliency resources being developed throughout North Carolina. The panel included government staff working on the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan (CHPP), NC Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan, Resilient Coast Communities Program (RCCP), and Regions Innovating for Strong Economies & Environment (RISE). There were also representatives from the Nature Conservancy and the NC coastal community who discussed their experience executing projects.

Many of the projects being developed by the State seem to be collaborating and specialized for different aspects of coastal resiliency. The projects are meant to be used by local governments and towns that are looking to update their resiliency strategy but that can leave unincorporated communities with less access. The RCCP includes the use of community action teams that encourage community lead decisions and can be used by unincorporated areas to facilitate community organization.

PHOTOS: LEWIS, 2022 – Brainstorming session with session attendees to identify and vote on critical concerns for rural coastal communities (top), training needs (middle), and creative engagement approaches (bottom).
After the conference CCRW feels both excited about the many different projects that provide funding and resources to the coast but also concerned that many communities may not know about these opportunities. The work we do at CCRW helps bridge this gap between resources and beneficiaries by directly working with communities to identify their water quality concerns and getting them the resources that they can use.
For more info about local water quality information, please contact:

Riley Lewis,

White Oak Waterkeeper

Coastal Carolina Riverwatch


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