States / North Carolina

North Carolina

Coastal Management

The focus is on managing coastal areas to increase resilience, with an emphasis on balancing environmental, economic, and human wellbeing. Mandated by the Coastal Zone Management Act, the two federal programs designed for this task are the National Coastal Zone Management Program and the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. Programs are administered, on the federal side, by NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management, in partnership with the coastal states.

A crab pokes out of the water in a rock formation with the sun rising in the distance.

State Programs

Coastal Zone Management

The Division of Coastal Management. Established in 1972, the program is dedicated to safeguarding and managing the state's coastal resources through planning, permitting, education, and research. The program enforces regulations, such as the Coastal Area Management Act and the Dredge and Fill Law, in 20 coastal counties. This division is part of the Department of Environmental Quality.

National Estuarine Research Reserves

North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve. Designated in 1985 and protecting 10,568 acres, this reserve includes four sites located near Corolla (Currituck Banks), Beaufort (Rachel Carson), and Wilmington (Masonboro Island and Zeke's Island). The reserve protects sites that make up the third largest estuarine system in the nation, with habitats that support about 90 percent of the commercial seafood species in this state, as well as a number of threatened and endangered species. Located within the Atlantic Flyway, the reserve is a sanctuary for many species of migratory birds, including red knots, piping plovers, black skimmers, and least terns. (See handout)