Are CAMA Land-Use Plans Protecting Coastal Resources? An Evaluation of North Carolina’s Coastal Planning Requirement

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North Carolina’s Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) was created in 1974 to “establish a comprehensive plan for the protection, preservation, orderly development, and management of the coastal area.” One of CAMA’s key tools for managing coastal lands is a state-mandated land-use planning process, which tries to incentivize environmental protection through required analyses, planning exercises, and policy creation. The goal of this study was to determine the degree to which the CAMA planning requirement encourages counties to think critically about their environmental resources and plan strategically for future development. This report evaluates the effectiveness of the CAMA planning requirement through two main analyses: a critical review of plan content and quality using case studies from Carteret, Dare, and Gates Counties; and a social survey to assess current opinions and usage of CAMA land-use plans by county officials and planning employees. Plan evaluation results showed that while counties excelled at data assessments of current infrastructure and environmental resources, the application of environmental analyses into responsible development planning fell short. Plan policies were typically weak and unenforceable, and rarely exceeded state and federal standards. Survey results communicated overall satisfaction with the planning requirement, and noted that the process does encourage counties to consider environmental resources but additional protection is still needed. This report concludes that the required environmental inventories and suitability analyses are the most beneficial aspects of the planning process, and encourages the State to dedicate future efforts towards expanding these elements and providing more localized data assistance and guidance.





Bruce, Jennifer (2010). Are CAMA Land-Use Plans Protecting Coastal Resources? An Evaluation of North Carolina’s Coastal Planning Requirement. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

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