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Local News

North Carolina launches five-year plan to restore salt marshes

Credit: iStock

By Shanteya Hudson

May 23, 2024   

North Carolina’s 220,000 acres of salt marshes face multiple threats to their major roles in climate protection and ecosystem health, from rising seas and salt water intrusion, to more frequent and intense storms.

To combat the challenges, the North Carolina Coastal Federation has released a five-year action plan, focused on protecting and restoring the habitat.

Jacob Boyd, salt marsh program director for the federation, said it is urgent to address ways to ensure the salt marshes are here for the next generation.

“The ecosystem and community resilience and climate change really go hand in hand,” Boyd explained. “Because if we can protect and conserve some of these salt marshes and make those ecosystems more resilient, that’s going to have those resilience impacts and benefits to the local communities, for flood protection and all the other benefits that salt marshes provide.”

The plan outlined several preservation strategies, including promoting living shorelines instead of bulkheads, restoring marsh elevations and sediments and conservation efforts to allow for marsh migration. The plan is part of the larger South Atlantic Salt Marsh Initiative, an effort spanning the coastline from North Carolina to Northern Florida, aiming to preserve and enhance more than 1 million salt marsh acres.

Sarah Spiegler, coastal resilience specialist for the North Carolina State Center for Marine Sciences and Technology, highlighted the plan’s role in fostering collaboration among a variety of organizations, governments and academia. She noted the “all-hands-on-deck” approach should help to address the environmental, social and economic challenges related to salt marshes.

“Salt marshes and issues like climate change, they don’t fall within one jurisdiction or they don’t stop at the county line, or they don’t fall into just one agency’s purview,” Spiegler emphasized. “The fact that we are going to have all of these agencies and partners working together, we’re just very fortunate here in North Carolina to put all of our heads together.”

Spiegler pointed out the efforts build on others in the state, including Gov. Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 80 and the state’s 2020 Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan.

She added the efforts will help bridge the gap between ecosystem resilience and community resilience in the face of climate change.

Public News Service is an independent, member-supported news organization that covers state-specific, public-interest stories. The PNS maintains editorial independence.

This story was republished from PNS using a Creative Commons license. Read the original story.