Working Waterfronts Preservation in North Carolina, and the Potential for Involvement by Environmental Defense Fund

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Campbell, Lisa M

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The face of North Carolina’s coast is changing. Rampant development is leading a shift from traditional working waterfront communities, which support commercial fishing and related businesses, to condominiums and housing developments. The loss of working waterfronts, including the subsequent economic, cultural, and historical changes, coupled with the loss of public access to public trust waters, led the North Carolina General Assembly to take action. In 2006, the General Assembly created the Waterfront Access Study Committee (WASC) and charged the Committee with examining the changing nature of North Carolina’s coast and recommending ways for the state to halt these changes.

This masters project reviews the progress and current status of the waterfront access program in North Carolina, and it explores opportunities for Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to get involved in the waterfront access issue. The report relies on information from literature reviews, interviews, and attendance at three public meetings.

The report begins with a review of the work of the WASC and its recommendations. It then reviews the General Assembly’s response to the WASC’s report. The General Assembly’s actions included the extension of present use value taxation to working waterfront properties, the creation of the Advisory Committee for the Coordination of Waterfront Access (646 Committee) to oversee future waterfront access work, and the establishment of the Waterfront Access and Marine Industry Fund (WAMI), which will distribute $20 million for working waterfront and public access projects throughout the state.

Present use value taxation offers little opportunity for involvement by EDF. The 646 Committee provides opportunities for EDF to monitor the state’s waterfront access program and suggest improvements or new actions. The WAMI allows EDF to monitor and comment on projects receiving funding and to identify additional sites for funding. EDF also could get involved in waterfront access by building relationships with developers, establishing working relationships with fishermen, advocating for the creation of a new waterfront access fund with conservation goals, and supporting fishermen in their own efforts to preserve working waterfronts. These suggestions can help guide EDF’s decision whether to expend resources to get involved in waterfront access issues in North Carolina.





Roberts, Sean (2008). Working Waterfronts Preservation in North Carolina, and the Potential for Involvement by Environmental Defense Fund. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.