Restore and Preserve
Goal: Restore and Protect Habitat, Water Quality and Public Access to the Coast
The federation restores and protects critically important coastal
habitats and water quality. With your help, our projects literally cover
Working with volunteers and contractors, we build, enhance and preserve oyster reefs, living shorelines, wetlands, shorebird nesting rookeries and native coastal forests.
We also retrofit farm drainage systems, neighborhoods, and urban
development to reduce the amount of polluted stormwater reaching our
Our project sites
frequently include public access for boating, fishing, hiking and
swimming. We want everyone to be able to enjoy and make a living from
healthy coastal waters.
The federation works with everyone: fishers, farmers, developers,
contractors, barge and heavy equipment operators—you name it.
Restoration means jobs, and we provide them to make the coast a better
place to live, work and play.
How we work:
We restore and protect coastal habitats, water quality and public access by:
- Successfully completing projects that maintain or replicate natural processes, including watershed hydrology.
- Working at scales that accomplish real improvements to environmental health.
- Staying focused within high priority watersheds so that the
cumulative benefits of numerous projects yield significant environmental
- Connecting the resources of federal, state, and local funders to
provide broad support that could never be achieved by one entity alone.
- Engaging people to galvanize long-term stewardship of coastal resources.
- Building momentum as people see tangible progress being made to protect and restore coastal resources.
This list is just a few of the most current things your support has made possible:
- More than 300 acres of new oyster reefs in the last three years.
- Landscape-scale wetland restoration-- working with farmers in Hyde County and North River Farms, we have restored more than 50,000 acres of wetlands and restored water quality and fisheries in Pamlico and Core sounds.
- Strong partnerships with businesses, local governments and
schools have resulted in more than three dozen stormwater reduction
projects including bioretention areas, rain gardens and cisterns.
- Public access for fishing, hiking, boating and swimming has been provided to thousands of acres of coastal lands and waters.
The federation creates new oyster reefs each year to provide valuable
habitat area for oysters and many other marine species and to improve
coastal water quality. The industrious oysters can each filter up to 50
gallons of water a day.
The program is guided by an ever-adapting blueprint developed by a
concerned group of regulators, researchers, aquaculture experts and
restoration groups that is convened by the federation.
Wetland Restoration: good for habitat, water quality and climate adaptation
The federation is committed to improving water quality along our
coast. One way to achieve this goal is through the restoration of
wetlands, from saltwater marsh to freshwater cypress swamps.
We are currently restoring 6,000-acre North River Farms in Carteret County, which is the largest wetlands restoration project in the state.
The federation is also working with several farmers on a landscape-scale wetland and hydrologic restoration project
in the 42,500-acre Mattamuskeet Drainage Association. The latter
project, when complete, will recreate historic hydrology and habitat and
permit the historically important oyster beds in Pamlico Sound to be
reopened for shellfishing.
Stormwater retrofits: Fixing what’s broken
Drainage systems in our communities were often put in before the
damaging effects of polluted stormwater were known. These systems were
designed to collect and remove runoff as quickly as possible. That means
that we now need to go back, and make the landscape functional again so
that it will absorb and soak up rainfall. This is known as installing
stormwater retrofits. While it’s always better—less expensive, less
time-consuming—to plan for stormwater before building, we must also deal
with existing development and its runoff if we hope to improve impaired
coastal water quality.
The federation has creative solutions and strong partnerships to address this need. We have devised a guide for how to restore watersheds
and plan for cost-effective retrofit measures. We work with landowners,
neighborhoods, schools and towns to install low impact development
(LID) measures such as rain gardens and cisterns, and to disconnect
impervious surfaces to prevent runoff.
Public access for all
Our work on public access comes from a simple belief: everyone should
have access to the coast firsthand. We need this access both for
economic development and for recreation. Our projects provide access for
swimming, boating, diving, crabbing, fishing, hiking, hunting and even
lounging on the shore—it’s what makes the coast so special, and we don’t
want it walled off.
Since 1982 we’ve worked tirelessly to make sure that special places on
the coast remain open and accessible to all. We have provided public
access within thousands of acres of our projects that stretch from South
Carolina to the Outer Banks. Here’s a map of the land that the
federation has preserved and restored; most of it provides for greater
public access to the coast.
Promoting Living Shorelines
Over the past three years, the federation installed new living shorelines
made out of oyster shells in Dare and Onslow counties to demonstrate
how natural materials can foster new oyster growth to protect eroding
shorelines. This has enabled the federation to secure additional
federal and state funds to continue to demonstrate living shoreline
strategies, and to promote their wider use in the future. Initially
developed as an alternative to bulkheads, living shorelines are erosion
control measures that also provide stormwater buffers and threatened
wetland and riparian habitat.
The federation is advancing the scientific understanding of the role
of wetlands restoration in carbon sequestration to mitigate climate
change. It has fostered the establishment of a major study by U.S.
Geological Survey and scientists at N.C. State University to study the
amount of carbon sequestration that can be attributed to restored fresh
and saltwater wetlands at North River Farms. The results of this
multi-year study, now in its second year, will provide much needed
scientific data to establish the contribution that restored wetlands
make to slowing global warming. The federation completed a two-year
project with EPA, N.C. Division of Water Quality, Wilmington and
Wrightsville Beach to devise an innovative watershed restoration plan
for Bradley and Hewletts creeks. This plan establishes stormwater volume
reduction targets for each watershed, and provides GIS tools for
measuring progress toward achieving watershed goals. The methods used in
this project are now being transferred to other impaired coastal
watersheds as an expedited way to establish pollution reduction targets
for the coast’s impaired waters.