‘Living Shoreline’ Comes to Life at Carteret Community College

(Restoration Systems has had an ongoing involvement with the North River Farms through collaboration with the NCCF.  This article highlights some of the happenings surrounding the project this summer.)

After nearly four years of planning and numerous meetings with experts and agencies, restoration of the Bogue Sound shoreline at the Carteret Community College in Morehead City is underway. 

Unlike many of NCCF’s smaller, residential shoreline projects, the project at the college is bold, both in its size and in the diversity of design elements.  The goal was to combine the most up-to-date erosion-control technology with a strong desire to restore habitat and provide water quality protection for Bogue Sound. 

The result?  An approach that includes two breakwaters, which are larger, segmented stone structures, more commonly found along Chesapeake Bay’s high energy bluff shorelines.  The breakwaters are placed farther offshore than the smaller sills, and are designed to replicate stable headland embayments found naturally along many estuarine shorelines.  Over 14,000 marsh plants were planted landward of the breakwaters, providing an additional habitat and stabilization for the eroding shoreline. 

The project also contains several experimental structures, using oyster-reef building domes and erosion control pyramids created from bags of oyster shells.  Both designs will test the ability of non-traditional measures to enhance oyster-reef habitat, while standing up to the strong storms that batter this shoreline.  Finally, a newly created wetland will be used to pre-treat stormwater run-off from the college campus before it reaches Bogue Sound.  Project construction and initial plantings were finished in August, with further plantings taking place throughout the next year.  Even after completion, the site will serve as a living laboratory for years to come. 

A Greener North River Farms

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what do you earn when the picture starts to become a reality?  For several years, NCCF and our partners have pictured cleaner water and thriving wetland habitats in place of farm fields at North River Farms in Eastern Carteret County.  Designs have been made, proposals have been written, and volunteers have thrown themselves headlong into the muddy work of restoring wetlands.  And now, all that hard work is starting to pay off—the picture is starting to get rosier (or greener) as the farm starts to look more like a wetland again. 

More than 550 acres of the farm have been restored to wetlands so far, with 230 more acres scheduled for restoration this year.  Halfway completed, the current phase will restore more than 100 acres of tidal and freshwater streams and floodplains in the headwaters of Deep Creek.  Plantings this winter will complete the restoration of 35 acres of tidal wetlands, almost 50 acres of forested wetlands, and more than 6,000 feet of stream.  Over 80,000 wetland plugs have already been planted during the summer of 2006. 

The result has been a much “greener” North River Farms, with wetland vegetation taking up nutrients and filtering storm water before it reaches Deep Creek and the North River.  And that’s a picture worth celebrating. 

A Learning Vacation

Many North Carolinians know about Cape Lookout National Seashore, fifty-six miles of undeveloped barrier islands from Ocracoke Inlet to Beaufort Inlet.  However, a recent partnership between national seashore staff and NCCF has given summer tourists and area locals alike a chance to explore the southern section of this dynamic and beautiful island chain. 

This is the second summer that NCCF has offered educational programs at Cape Lookout: a Barrier Island Ecology program and, new this year, a Tidal Flats Exploration program.  During the ecology program, participants travel from one side of the island to the other, learning about plant and animal adaptations, barrier island migration, and current issues the islands face. 

The tidal flats program has proven very popular with all ages.  At low tide every other week, participants hike along the tidal flats on Core Sound, searching for shellfish, crabs, sand dollars and other critters. 

NCCF staff and interns enjoy leading the programs and meeting interesting people from all over the world and they also enjoy Cape Lookout as a summer office.  In the past two years, more than 700 people have come to learn why Cape Lookout National Seashore is so special.  We hope they will pass in this information wherever they live.