Environmental Concerns Committee
We invite all members to play an active role in drawing attention to the environmental concerns within our state. To submit an issue for consideration to the Environmental Concerns Committee (ECC), contact the Committee Chair.
The mission of the NCAFS Environmental Concerns Committee is to promote the conservation and responsible management of aquatic species and their habitat, to identify actions that may harm or benefit an aquatic resource, to consider a position when deemed necessary, and to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas, information, and concerns through committee meetings, the NCAFS newsletter, and other correspondence.
NCWRC Draft Catfish Management Plan (2019): NCAFS submitted a comment letter to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission during the public review of this plan update. The ECC expressed support for the stated goals of using sound science to protect and enhance native catfishes, as well as investigating effectiveness of trophy regulations on invasive exotics such as Blue Catfish. A recommendation was made to remove harvest restrictions on Blue and Flathead Catfish, in order to support NCWRC Conservation Plans for rare aquatic species and to protect trust resources and recreational opportunities of NC citizens.
NCWRC Proposed Fishing Regulations (2019): NCAFS submitted a comment letter to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission regarding two proposed fishing regulations in the Pee Dee River below Blewett Falls Dam. The ECC expressed support for a regulation restricting bowfishing harvest to catfish species, with a goal of reducing the risk of mortality to rare Robust Redhorse and other protected species. The ECC recommended rejecting a regulation protecting invasive exotic Blue and Flathead Catfish in this river reach, expressing concerns about the direct conflict, through predation, with NCWRC management of popular sportfishes such as Striped Bass, sunfishes, bullheads, and shad, as well as rare Robust and Carolina Redhorse.
Riparian Buffer Rules in NC Legislature (2017): NCAFS submitted a letter of concern to the NC Senate President Pro Tempore and the NC House Speaker (and copied all House members) for a recently-passed NC Senate bill which, among other actions, repealed Catawba River Basin riparian buffer rules. The bill also limited the authority of local municipalities to establish riparian buffer rules that exceed those of the state. NCAFS received thanks from lawmakers for important input on the critical role of riparian zones and the bill did not make it out of House Rules committee. More information about the bill (S434) can be found here in the NC General Assembly’s resources.
NC Wildlife Action Plan 10-Year Revision (2015): NCAFS submitted a letter of support for the ongoing revision of North Carolina’s Wildlife Action Plan. More information about the plan, including background, requirements, implementation, along with a current draft incorporating 2015 public review can be found here on the NC Wildlife Resources Commission’s website.
Aquatic Nuisance Species (2015): NCAFS submitted a letter of support for a drafted NC Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan in May. This plan will promote awareness of invasive and exotic species and conservation of North Carolina’s indigenous aquatic species and habitats.
Reclassification of Brook Trout Streams (2009): ECC compiled fishery survey data and sent through the NCAFS Chapter president a petition in 2009 regarding the New and Watauga River Basins, as well as a 2010 document for the Catawba and Yadkin River Basins, to NCDENR to reclassify streams supporting brook trout that are currently not classified as trout supporting waters to the “Tr” standard. The “Tr” standard helps protect trout habitat in part by requiring, with some exceptions, a minimum 25-foot wide undisturbed vegetated buffer between land disturbing activity and classified streams. The ECC is planning to extend this petition effort to other mountain river basins in the future. The ECC also wrote a letter encouraging effective implementation of Session Law (S.L.) 2008-143 to help conserve fishery habitats in the face of ongoing and future droughts in North Carolina (see below).
Implementation of Water Conservation Measures to Address Drought (2009): As of early 2009, western North Carolina remains in a drought that has substantially reduced stream flows and fishery habitats in the region. These effects, which are exacerbated by the competing priority needs of drinking water supplies and agricultural and industrial uses, make it imperative that fishery resources be considered during drought responses. Therefore, a letter of concern was sent through the NCAFS Chapter president to the Environmental Management Commission (EMC) and North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) that encourages full and effective implementation Session Law (S.L.) 2008-143. This legislation mandates, in part, the adoption of water supply and shortage plans by local governments and formation of a Drought Management Advisory Council, which will include fishery professionals.
Emergency Watershed Protection (2006): The U.S. Department of Agriculture implements the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program to protect life and property following natural disasters. It was most recently implemented in North Carolina in 2004 following major flooding in western North Carolina from tropical storms Frances and Ivan. At the 2006 NCAFS Annual meeting the membership voted to approve a resolution that encourages the use of sustainable, natural methods to restore flood damaged streams during future implementations of the EWP program in the state.
Floodplain Mining in the Mountains (2006): The ECC identified floodplain mining along mountain streams as a significant threat to fishery resources. Primary concerns involve the removal of riparian zone vegetation, which is important to stream channel stability and thermal properties, and floodplain instability and habitat deterioration this activity causes during major floods. In response, the ECC submitted a letter to the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Division of Land Resources to investigate this activity and take measures, as appropriate, to curtail the fishery habitat damage it causes.
Environmental Commission’s Water Quality Classifications (2005): Accurate classifications of waters are critical to the conservation of existing aquatic resources in North Carolina. Many waters are misclassified or in need of reevaluation to reflect the aquatic life they support. The ECC encouraged the timely classification and reclassification of waters in North Carolina by the Division of Water Quality. Submitted Comments.
US Forest Service OHV Rule (2004): The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service released for public comment a Draft Policy on Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Use in National Forests and Grasslands that would formally establish nationally consistent procedures for the establishment of OHV roads, trails and areas and prohibit OHV use in areas not designated. The ECC supported the expected conservation benefits of the proposal and encouraged the application of fisheries and other biological information in the selection and management of OHV areas. Submitted Comments.
Sedimentation Symposium and Resolution (2003): The Environmental Concerns Committee hosted a special symposium on sedimentation issues in the Southeast US during the 2003 Southern Division Spring Meeting, which was hosted by the NCAFS and held on February 12-16 in Wilmington, NC. Keynote speaker for the symposium was Dr. Charles Rabeni. As follow-up to that symposium, a resolution on reducing sedimentation was approved at the NCAFS Annual Meeting in 2004.
Invasive/Introduced Species (2003): At the 2003 NC AFS Annual meeting, the membership approved a resolution on the issue of introduced aquatic species.
In-stream Sand and Gravel Mining (2002): To initiate discussions on the issue of in-stream sand and gravel mining, the ECC, in cooperation with the NCAFS, hosted an In-stream Sand and Gravel Mining workshop and symposium at the 2002 NCAFS Annual Meeting in Huntersville, NC. At that meeting, the membership also approved a position statement on in-stream mining.
A video of the in-stream mining forum is available for loan from the current chair of the ECC.
Oregon Inlet Jetty (2002): At the 2002 NCAFS Annual Meeting held in Huntersville, NC, the membership of NCAFS voted to approve a resolution that expressed concerns about and need for further evaluation of a proposed dual jetty system at Oregon Inlet, NC. Major concerns raised by the membership included potential negative affects the jetty system would have on the fish populations.