Carteret County will sue USFWS if turtle protection changes are approved
Board of Commissioners announces intentions at Aug. 19 meeting
A proposed change in the protection of endangered loggerhead turtles has Carteret County's local government up in arms.
The Carteret County Board of Commissioners voted Aug. 19 to send a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service because of the anticipated designation of Bogue Banks as “critical habitat” for loggerhead sea turtles.
The board took the action because, as of mid-July, the federal agency has proposed designating 96 miles of North Carolina beachfront as critical habitat for sea turtles. The change could mean restrictions on beach walking, including bans near turtle nests, expensive changes in street lights, prohibition of surf fishing for periods of time, and changes in inlet management such as dredging and beach renourishment.
Bogue Banks contains some of North Carolina’s priciest coastal real estate, including Atlantic Beach, Salter Path and Emerald Isle.
The USFWS proposal would designate 739 miles of beaches along the coast of six states as critical nesting habitat for the endangered loggerheads. Besides Bogue Banks – which lies between Beaufort and Bogue inlets – affected North Carolina beaches would include an area from three miles northeast of New River Inlet southwest 30 miles to Topsail Island, which would include North Topsail Beach, West Onslow Beach, Surf City and Topsail Beach. The next stretch runs from Mason’s Inlet to just north of Snow’s Cut, then north of Carolina Beach Inlet to the tip of Cape Fear, including Carolina Beach, Kure Bach and Bald Head Island, and then west to Shallotte Inlet, including Oak Island and Holden Beach.
The Carteret County Board of Commissioners approved intent to sue after Greg Rudolph, the county’s shore protection manager, made a presentation that said the number of turtle nests along the Bogue Banks – 1.25 per mile – didn’t support the region as critical habitat for loggerheads, and that the economic impact analysis published by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (USFWS’s parent agency) was flawed.
Written comments about the proposed regulations must be sent to NOAA Fisheries no later than September 16, 2013. Mail comments to: Office of Protected Resources, NOAA Fisheries, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 or fax to: 301-713-4060. To comment online, visit www.regulations.gov/ or the comments page at the Office of Protected Resources web site at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/comment.htm. Comments also can be made at www.federalregister.gov. The I.D. number for this proposal is NOAA-NMFS-2013-0079-0005.
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