Wetlands, like these in Onslow County, are one of five priority issues named in the draft Coastal Habitat Protection Plan. Photo: North Carolina Division of Water Resources

The state Department of Environmental Quality is accepting public comment on the Draft Coastal Habitat Protection Plan 2021 Amendment.

Comments are being accepted until 5 p.m. Oct. 21.

The Coastal Habitat Protection Plan is a long-term strategy to improve coastal fisheries through habitat protection and enhancement efforts.

The plan, which must be approved by the Environmental Management Commission, Marine Fisheries Commission, and Coastal Resources Commission, is to provide information on habitat distribution and abundance, ecological functions and importance to fish production, status and trends, threats to the habitats, and includes recommendations to address those threats, according to NCDEQ.

The draft plan amendment focuses on recommendations to address five priority issues:

  • Submerged aquatic vegetation protection and restoration through water quality improvements.
  • Wetlands protection and restoration through nature-based solutions.
  • Environmental rule compliance to protect coastal habitats.
  • Wastewater infrastructure solutions for water quality improvement.
  • Coastal habitat mapping and monitoring to assess status and trends.

Also under public review and comment is Appendix A, which includes the findings, conclusions and recommendations by an independent stakeholder workgroup steered by the North Carolina Coastal Federation and The Pew Charitable Trusts during development of the 2021 amendment to the CHPP.

Related: Panel with stakes in clean water adds to coastal habitat plan

The public may comment by 5 p.m. Oct. 21 on the draft amendment and appendix by submitting comments online through a survey; by mail to CHPP 2021 Amendment Comments, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, N.C. 28557; or sign up to speak during an advisory meeting. Those who wish to speak at the meetings must register by 5 p.m. the day before the meeting. 

The committees will meet by web conference on the following dates:

  • Southern Regional Advisory Committee 6 p.m. Oct. 12. Register to speak by 5 p.m. Oct. 11.
  • Northern Regional Advisory Committee 6 p.m. Oct. 13. Register to speak by 5 p.m. Oct. 12.
  • Finfish Advisory Committee 6 p.m. Oct. 14. Register to speak by 5 p.m. Oct. 13.
  • Shellfish/Crustacean Advisory Committee 6 p.m. Oct. 19. Register to speak by 5 p.m. Oct. 18.
  • Habitat & Water Quality Advisory Committee 6 p.m. Oct. 20. Register to speak by 5 p.m. Oct. 19.
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Credit: Original content published here.

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