The N.C. Coastal Federation formed in 1982 to fight strip miners who wanted to lay open 120,000 acres of peat bogs along our northern coastal plain to extract the peat for fuel. We rallied the support of fishermen, environmentalists and ordinary North Carolinians, and together we fought off the miners. Much of the land they wanted to despoil is now protected in national wildlife refuges.
Ever since, the federation has been a strong advocate for the protection of our coastal waters, lands and culture. We have pushed tirelessly for better environmental rules and regulations and for tougher enforcement of existing ones. We have been at the forefront of every major coastal policy debate or regulatory fight for almost 30 years now. We fought for better land-use planning and tougher stormwater rules. We lobbied legislators to keep seawalls off our beaches and mega-landfills out of our marshes. Our advocacy led to a moratorium on hog farms, tighter restrictions on discharges from phosphate mines and tougher marina rules. We have gone to court to keep bulldozers from chewing up our marshes and polluters from fouling our air and water.
Through it all, we learned that we can't get far without the support of people who cherish our coast. Marshaling the good sense of such people has been the secret behind our successful advocacy program.
Advocate for compatible land and water uses that protect coastal water quality and critical habitats.
The federation’s advocacy work takes many forms and avenues. Our basic strategy is to equip citizens and their leaders to be advocates and to hold decision-makers accountable for their actions. As illustrated with the Stop Titan and low-impact development coalitions, most federation advocacy campaigns include the following elements:
- Recruit all possible partners including non-traditional stakeholders that don’t normally join environmental causes
- Provide internal leadership, technical assistance and management
- Obtain money to support critical needs and activities
- Disseminate information necessary for informed decision-making
- Evaluate successes and failures
- Applaud significant accomplishments by stakeholders
Left to right: People gather in the streets of Wilmington to protest Titan cement; Lena Ritter, a shellfisher from Onslow County and a former federation president, welcomes the late Walter Cronkite at a rally to protect Stump Sound; and people pack a gymnasium to urge better land-use controls in eastern Carteret County.
The federation has grown and matured over the years and we now have very effective restoration and education programs and an active program to preserve sensitive coastal lands. Environmental advocacy remains a core mission. The federation employs three full-time Coastal Advocates, one in each of our regions, whose main jobs are to help enforce regulations and promote better rules and laws.
The federation helped stopped a sulfur smelter, is leading the opposition against a polluting cement plant, worked with towns and schools to control the flow of poisoned runoff and lobbied legislators to promote wise use of our coastal natural resources. Those are just some of our major accomplishments during the last three years.
Our Advocacy Work