OCEAN — A local environmental organization and its partners have purchased land to protect from development, provide public access and establish a new headquarters.
The N.C. Coastal Federation partnered with Carteret County March 20 to acquire 76.25 acres of land in the community of Ocean. Located between the Morada Bay Subdivision and Red Barn Road, the federation said in an announcement Monday the property has “a remarkable view of the Bogue Sound that will ultimately be shared with and accessible by the public.”
The total purchase price of $7,474,000 was made possible through funding provided by the NCCF the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the U.S. Department of Defense Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program, the N.C. General Assembly and the N.C. Parks and Recreational Trust Fund.
As part of the transaction, the Department of the Navy acquired a restrictive easement over the entire property to prohibit incompatible development, which might otherwise compromise pilot training performed at nearby Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue. State agencies were also granted a conservation easement on 24.14 acres, preserving the natural habitats in that area and prohibiting future development.
The federation said it, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and Carteret County officials will work together to provide public amenities on this property over the next several years.
“Under an agreement with Carteret County, the Wildlife Resources Commission will construct a public boating access area on a portion of the property,” the federation said. “The coastal federation plans to build a new Center for Coastal Protection and Restoration on its 10 acres on the southwest side of property. Carteret County will manage the remaining acres including the protected conservation areas as a county nature park offering natural trails and recreational opportunities.”
County Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman Robin Comer said the boating access area and other public recreation opportunities afforded by the acquisition “will be a true asset to Carteret County and all of Eastern North Carolina.”
“The county appreciates all of the support we have received from our federal, state and local partners to bring this project to fruition,” Mr. Comer said.
The federation and county raised a total of $7.9 million for the project: $7,474,000 for the land acquisition and $426,000 in non-federal funds that will be used by the county to develop the road access from Highway 24 into the property. Contributions to the project included $1 million from the federation, $1.9 million from the Navy, $1.2 million from the state CWMTF, $3.3 million from the General Assembly and $500,000 from the state PARTF.
The federation said the new Center for Coastal Protection and Restoration will be a public resource and home to its future headquarters.
“The preliminary concept for the center includes an education and events center, an open-air education pavilion, and the coastal federation headquarters, all arranged around a community courtyard for gatherings and events,” the federation said. “A preliminary conceptual plan is being developed by Wilmington Architects LS3P and will feature a sustainable design and conservation development practices.”
The federation said it wants to showcase low-impact development techniques at the center, including pervious pavement and rain gardens, as well as habitat restoration approaches like wetland restoration and living shorelines.
The federation said the property will “increase public access to educational and recreational opportunities through nature trails, access to Bogue Sound, and opportunities to explore the restored habitats and conservation techniques demonstrated on site.”
“The events building will support educational opportunities onsite, such as workshops, volunteer opportunities and programs for students,” the organization said. “The Event Center will also provide educational programming for people across the state through online resources and remote learning, on topics including stormwater management, coastal resilience, marine debris, water quality, and more.”
NCCF Executive Director Todd Miller said the Center for Coastal Protection and Restoration will be “a special resource that will support the federation’s work coastwide.”
“It will embody the mission of the coastal federation,” he said, “bringing the community together around shared educational and recreational resources and providing an example of sustainability for our coastal communities.”