Beaufort, N.C.

Sept. 14, 2021

TO THE EDITOR:

Gibbs Creek is a tidal tributary on the North Reiver Estuary lying within the extraterritorial jurisdiction of Beaufort, NC. These creeks are vital habitats for wildlife, providing nurseries and supporting food webs sustaining valuable coastal fisheries.

Gibbs Creek is one of the very last pristine and mostly undeveloped tidal creeks within Beaufort's jurisdiction. Well over 80% of its watershed and shoreline are currently undeveloped with a robust cover of vegetation and healthy wetlands. This makes the creek locally unique and extraordinary.

A recently surfaced Master Plan is proposing to rezone the property and install a 400 unit Planned Unit Development (PUD) designed to urbanize the undeveloped landscape of the Creek's watershed.

Tidal creeks are remarkable natural features considered "Public Trust" resources belonging to all citizens of North Carolina. Twice daily, the North River estuary floods into the Creek bringing in saltier water that nourishes the fringing wetlands and creek bed. The tidal waters are laden with tiny, microscopic plankton and invertebrates vital for the sustenance of the larvae and young of the year juvenile fish (e.g., flounder, red drum, speckled trout, mullet), shrimp, oysters, clams, crabs and hundreds of other estuarine species that depend on the Creek.

Gibbs Creek is a nursery area where these species seek food and refuge from the larger predators in North River. Twice daily, water ebbs out of Gibbs Creek, physically connecting the watershed to the North River Estuary. Eventually, the juvenile species grow into adults and leave the creek permanently to become a crucial part of the fabric of our lives.

Recently, this newspaper provided a glimpse into the social and economic value of Gibbs Creek; the pounds for the top 5 commercial species landed in North River and Back Sound were: Blue Crabs (129,495 lbs.), Oysters (38,403 lbs.), White Shrimp (73,609 lbs), Brown Shrimp (162,525 lbs.) and Clams (19,845 lbs.) collectively worth millions of dollars to our local economy. No one has yet estimated the enormous recreational value of this estuary.

Gibbs Creek is also an important habitat for wildlife, wading birds and waterfowl. The creek's physical orientation and vegetated shorelines shelters and feeds ducks, geese and other aquatic birds (kingfishers, ospreys, bald eagles) which intrinsically recognize the isolation and protection afforded by this unique habitat.

Vegetation in the undeveloped watershed and wetlands is stabilizing soil, recycling and sequestering nutrients, preserving water quality in the wetlands and tidal waters and ensuring the quality and productivity of the Creek and North River. Terrestrial vegetation and wetlands also sequester carbon and mitigate CO2 emissions. It is an interconnected physical and biological system which ultimately depends on how we minimize our impact to its' watershed.

I urge the Beaufort Planning Board to seriously evaluate the developer's request to urbanize and threaten the integrity of the Gibbs Creek watershed. Is surrendering this unique environment and its public assets to high-density development something we are willing to accept without more serious due diligence? There are reasonable alternatives to consider.

JUD KENWORTHY

Marine Scientist

(9) comments

David Collins

They do not care , only about the money . But , you already knew that .

taxpayer

It sure sounds like PRIVATE PROPERTY to me. The author seems to want people to provide him a personal playground at their expense. If you value the property so highly, make them an offer. While we are on the subject, maybe we should restore YOUR neighborhood back to nature. Only fair.

David Collins

Private property , quite sure it is but as we have seen , that has some limitations .

Have asked a few questions concerning the unnamed developer or company . None have been answered . Why the secrets ? The clock runs 24hrs a day and not backwards .

mcmlxv

I haven't seen an opinion on this development from the NC Coastal Federation. I would have thought they would be leading the opposition. Or maybe this estuary isn't on their radar

Osprey

Curious why the author's property located directly on the creek/marsh doesn't have the same impact on the watershed as the proposed development would ?

David Collins

The Coastal Federation is focused on Lake Mattamuskeet now . Bigger press and apparently someone let the Carp out . Find this rather strange because was not the Federation strongly represented in the Beaufort area ? The silence is getting louder .

Wish you could do some back to nature restoration around here . Prime example of clear cutting followed by concrete laying followed by wannabe golf course owners with runoff that is nutrient rich filling in our little creek .

David Collins

Have never seen the author’s property , so just shooting from the hip . Probably does not have 4 or more residences / useable acre with sidewalks , roads , and yard of the month candidates . Other than that , have not a clue .

drewski

Those nice multi story units with pool and common areas behind what used to be wildwood rent for 1800/ mo. How many hrs a week do you need to work at bojangles/ food lion/lowes to rent one?

David Collins

Exactly , Drew . This is all about the “ Gentrification of Beaufort “ . Pure and simple . The worker bees that actually get things done to keep the town rolling are being forced out and away .

Once again , who are these visionary developers ? Someone knows !

Welcome to the discussion.

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