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Grant allows commission to protect parking at public boating site

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has purchased property adjacent to its Sunset Harbor Boating Access Area to improve parking in the area.

The purchase—the first from the N.C. Waterfront Access and Marine Industry (WAMI) Fund—will also enable the commission to focus its resources on much needed renovations to the existing boat ramp on the Intracoastal Waterway. The WAMI funds will also provide funding to develop a small public fishing pier, said Gordon Myers, deputy director.

“This $915,000 grant, made possible through the leadership of the General Assembly, is allowing us to protect waterfront land and preserve it for public use,” Myers said. “In addition, thanks to this collaboration with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, which administers the fund, we’ll be able to make significant improvements, expand the uses of this property and ensure continued access to our state’s public waters.”

Boaters using the Sunset Harbor Boating Access Area had previously parked on property leased to a private fishing club. However, when the property owner decided to sell it, the commission worried a private buyer would forbid public parking—and quickly purchased the property with WAMI funding to make it part of the commission’s free boating access area.

Adding the parking area into state ownership makes it much more desirable to overhaul the access area. The renovation plans include new launch ramps, docks, dredging and development of a small fishing pier.

The renovations will also apply low-impact design strategies to manage stormwater.

“The Sunset Harbor project was the type of multi-use site we were looking to fund with the Waterfront Access and Marine Industry Fund,” said Louis Daniel, director of the Division of Marine Fisheries. “Not only will it ensure continued parking for an existing, heavily-used boat ramp, a fishing pier will provide water access for those without vessels.

“The project was also a great example of how the Division of Marine Fisheries and the Wildlife Resources Commission can join forces to provide greater coastal water access for all North Carolina citizens,” Daniel said.

The N.C. General Assembly approved the $20 million WAMI Fund in 2007 as a way to pay for acquiring waterfront properties or developing facilities to provide or improve waterfront access for the public.

The $915,000 grant for Sunset Harbor was one of 13 projects approved for funding in April.