North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources
NC Division of Coastal Management
NC Coast Scene

Coastal Management News :: Releases :: July 31, 2012

Contact: Michele Walker, 919-707-8604

State Agency Completes First Digital Map of N.C.’s 12,000-Mile Estuarine Shoreline

RALEIGH – The N.C. Division of Coastal Management has completed a project to create the first ever continuous digital map of more than 12,000 miles of estuarine shoreline in North Carolina.

The map is the result of a partnership between the state agency and East Carolina University.

Among its findings, the project identified the mileage of shoreline types such as a marsh or a swamp forest and the number of shoreline structures such as piers and bulkheads along estuarine waterways. Estuarine shorelines are found along the coast’s broad network of brackish sounds, marshes, rivers and creeks. Estuaries are a unique and important part of coastal life – a transitional area where fresh and salt water mix.

“This is a really exciting project,” said Braxton Davis, director of the state Division of Coastal Management, or DCM. “The maps can be used by DCM, local governments and researchers to assess changes in shorelines and structures, study where and why shorelines are eroding, monitor future changes, and better understand development trends along our estuarine shorelines. This work will provide a wealth of useful data for North Carolina’s coastal management program.”

Using the most recently available aerial photography for each county, the estuarine shoreline for all 20 coastal counties has been digitized and is now available to view on the state Division of Coastal Management’s website
From broad, shallow sounds like the Albemarle and Pamlico, to narrow bodies of water such as Core and Masonboro sounds, North Carolina has 2.2 million acres of estuarine waters. These shallow sounds, rivers and creeks make up one of the largest estuarine systems in the United States.

Staff from the state Division of Coastal Management and East Carolina University will continue working together to conduct a more in-depth analysis of the shoreline data, including calculating the length of the five distinct shoreline types and the different types of modified shorelines. They will also work to identify regional shoreline development trends and analyze the distribution of various coastal structures.

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Last Modified: July 31, 2012

N.C. Division of Coastal Management . 400 Commerce Ave . Morehead City, NC 28557
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