Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:00 PM


AMES, Dorothea V., RIGGS, Stanley R., CULVER, Stephen J. and MALLINSON, David J., Department of Geological Sciences, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858,

In response to the increasing conflict between coastal land use and ongoing shoreline recession, the NC Legislature passed the Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) in 1974. This act established the Coastal Resources Commission (CRC), the purpose of which was to develop policies, implement rules, and designate areas of environmental concern, based upon scientific data and recommendations from their Science Panel on Coastal Hazards. The conflict continues today as coastal development and shoreline recession proceed apace. Coastal development is increasingly dependent on highways located on vulnerable segments of wetlands and barrier islands at risk to storm dynamics as sea-level rises. In 2010, the CRC commissioned the Science Panel to write a report on expected sea-level rise in NC by 2100. One conclusion of this report, utilizing peer-reviewed scientific literature, was that a sea-level rise of 1 m by 2100 is likely. When this conclusion was presented, a storm of protest arose from developers and legislators resulting in a law that establishes a four-year moratorium on sea-level rise policy development and instructs the Science Panel to write an updated sea-level rise report by 2016.

To avoid such counterproductive confrontations, a new paradigm for the coast, specifically for transportation and tourism in northeastern NC, must be conceived. Such a paradigm is one that can channel the aspirations of the coastal tourism industry in a manner harmonious with predicted sea-level rise. The "Land of Water Coastal System” for NE NC offers such a paradigm. The region includes the drowned-river estuaries and associated marsh and swamp-forest wetlands of the Inner Banks, and the barrier islands of the Outer Banks. Multiple transportation alternatives by land, water, and air are envisioned; such alternatives would stimulate new industries, and serve as additional modes of transportation in support of failing highways. Public policy based on such a paradigm would protect coastal resources and help reduce hazards from storms while offering a viable future for the tourism industry and for the livelihoods of the residents who depend on it.