North Carolina receives its coastal report card

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

The grades are in for North Carolina’s coast.

The N.C. Beach, Inlet and Waterway Association recently released its “2008 Report Card for the N.C. Coast.”

With an overall grade of C+, North Carolina received only one A on this year’s report card.

Caswell Beach Mayor Harry Simmons, who serves as executive director for the association, said the annual report card usually garners good response.

“We thought it was important to have an easy to transmit way to let people know how the coast is doing,” Simmons said.

The association grades North Carolina’s coast on the following categories: beaches, inlets, Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, public beach access and public access to coastal waters.

Brunswick County’s coastal issues mirror those statewide issues presented in the report card.

“The issues in this kind of a document pretty much relate anywhere,” Simmons said. “It’s no better and no worse. It’s the same with the inlets and it’s the same of the beaches. This is how it is on all parts of the coast.”

Another issue that’s similar across the state, Simmons said, is funding.

“Money would make a difference on all fronts.”

The only A on the report card was for “public access to costal waters.”

“Last year we said, ‘an immediate, comprehensive and creative response by the state,’ was needed. The N.C. Legislature earns an ‘A’ for the $20 million Waterfront Access and Marine Industry Fund,” the report card states.

“Now they just need to do it again and again,” it continues.

North Carolina received an “incomplete” in the beaches category.

“For the first time since the association began issuing the annual report card, an ‘incomplete’ grade was awarded, reflecting the tenuousness of funding, which must be fought for anew each federal budget cycle and which often receives one-time appropriations at the state and local level,” Simmons says in a press release.

North Carolina received a D in the inlets category.

“Some inlets are doing well, others are barely open,” the report card states.

“Despite strong public support, there is limited funding for dredging. Commercial fishing and charter boats are most dangerously impacted.”

Public beach access earned a B in the report card.

“North Carolina access is better than most, but the need is growing,” the report card states.

North Carolina’s Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway earned a C in the report card.

Overall, the state’s coast earned a C+.

“Finding dependable funding over the long-term is the key to resolving most of North Carolina’s issues,” the report card states.

The North Carolina Beach, Inlet and Waterway Association is a nonprofit organization “that works on behalf of North Carolina’s coast, and those who love it, by seeking to encourage government action and funding, educate and advocate for effective federal and state policy, and facilitate environmentally sound scientific and engineering solutions for our threatened beaches, inlets and waterways.”

Caroline Curran is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or at ccurran@brunswickbeacon.com