Crossroads

      NEWSLETTER # 103,  July 2003         PO BOX 155, BEAUFORT, NC 28516. 252-728-5117

Changing Times


by Irv Hooper, President

[ Irv's daughter, Ann, gave birth to Crossroads over 20 years ago. That would make Irv the "Grandfather" of Crossroads.  Irv is also the "Godfather" of Crossroads in the sense that the many who have served on the Board over these 20 plus years have accorded Irv great honor and respect for his wisdom, patient guidance, and broad perspective.  With deep admiration for a worthy ideal well pursued, I hand over this issue of the Newsletter to Irv---Ed.]

     Our editor has asked me, as the new president of Crossroads, to present some of my ideas about how Crossroads might function in the future. First, I want to thank Dick Bierly for the splendid job he has done as president the last few years. Dick has presided during a time when the type of problem and the response to it has changed. He has worked hard to get Crossroads more involved in the ³persuasion business². Whether we like it or not, many of the decisions affecting our environment are being made in the political arena. That is, elected officials at the state and local levels are making decisions on environmental questions. Often only the economic, short term side of the question is presented to them when they are making decisions.  We have seen many times that arguments based on economic gain outweigh those in favor of environmental protection.

     A recent development has seen the legislature inserting itself into the regulatory and permitting process, even to the extent of trying to have specific regulatory positions abolished because they did not like the regulatory actions being taken. The legislature has also continually added to its power to delay and disapprove new regulations promulgated by the commissions responsible for forming them.

      In response to this reality, we must do more to influence and persuade the decision makers to consider the environmental consequences of their decisions. Dick has done a great job of moving us in this direction and I hope to continue in his footsteps. Fortunately, Dick is continuing his activity in the legislative area and working with other environmental groups.

     Another trend: as simpler problems such as cleaning up wastewater coming out of the end of a pipe have been attacked and largely controlled, it has become apparent that much of our water quality problem has to do with previously unregulated input to our streams and waters. Thus the problem of non-point source (NPS) pollution has taken center stage as the EPA has started to address the problem through ³Phase II² regulations. This is the problem best exemplified by the well-known fact that after a heavy rain, most or all of our shellfishing waters are closed to shellfishing because of bacterial pollution from runoff. Only a few will still argue that NPS pollution is not the primary source of loss of water quality in our area. We are firmly committed to seeing that all local governments work to meet the goals of the Phase II program.

     Just a note of caution here. Unfortunately Phase II does not address NPS pollution from agriculture and forestry. So even if Phase II should be implemented across the board, there would still be much to do to control fully  NPS pollution. It would appear that Crossroads will not run out of challenges soon.

     The Crossroads Board has always been concerned that we do a good job of representing our membership on environmental matters and also provide our members a chance to participate in the work of Crossroads. At the same time, the complexity and number of topics that must be addressed has increased. To attack these problems we are focusing our efforts for greater efficiency and greater member participation. The vehicle for this effort is discussed next:

Focus Issues

     As we read the paper, look around at our beautiful County, or listen to elected officials at both the local and state levels, it is apparent that we face an ever-increasing number of environmental issues that will determine the quality of life in Carteret County for years to come. At the same time, members of the Crossroads Board all have more and more personal matters that compete for the time they might spend on environmental problems. To meet this challenge, we have been considering ways to follow more efficiently and address more effectively all the environmental problems that we face in our County.

     One way we are approaching this problem is to divide responsibility among Board members. Those with a special interest or expertise in a given area will take the lead in following related topics, propose Board action and, in general, pursue their focus issues. As part of this arrangement, we would hope that members with special interests would join with Board members in ad hoc committees to work with the Board on items that especially interest them. We always welcome member participation and hope to encourage it by this arrangement‹as well as taking advantage of the expertise of our members. Of course, all Board members take part in discussion of all these and other relevant topics at Board meetings.

     A list of issues and Board members assuming leadership of them follows:

 Phase II: All board members. This is so important that everyone needs to be involved.

Basin-wide Planning: Irv Hooper.

Beach Issues: Bill Rawls.

Coastal Habitat Protection Plans: Mark Hooper and Dick Bierly.

Environmentally-friendly Development: Bruce McCutcheon and Billy Harvey.

Fishing and Aquaculture: Bob Austin.

Land Use Planning: Irv Hooper.

Liaison with other organizations and elected officials: Dick Bierly and Bruce Ethridge.

Port and Radio Island Issues: Don Hoss and Mike Orbach.

Water Quality: Mark Hooper.

Wetlands Protection: John Fussell and Lisa Wimpfheimer.    

     We judge that this arrangement will be more efficient for Crossroads and will, even more importantly, get more of our members involved. Crossroads has always been a member-centered organization. We want all our members to feel they are an integral part of Crossroads and have a role to play in Crossroads actions. So, we ask you to think about taking part in some of the discussion and action in which Board members are involved. As always, we would welcome feedback from you on this idea. Let us hear from you! Director¹s phone numbers are listed in the box at the bottom of the first page. Mail and e-mail addresses are listed on our web page. If you have a special interest or expertise in any of these areas, the responsible Board member would love to hear from you.

     We will list these topics on our web site and Board members will update them as new information becomes available. In this way, we can inform you of developments in a more timely fashion than is possible with the bimonthly newsletter.

Coastal Habitat Protection Plans

     Coastal Habitat Protection Plans (CHPPs) are being developed through a joint effort of the Environmental Management Commission (EMC), the Coastal Resources Commission (CRC), and the Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC). We are enclosing a brochure describing this effort with this newsletter.

     The public is invited to participate in the development of the CHPP plans through a series of public meetings.  The central coast meeting will be August 13, 2003, at 7 PM, at East Carteret High School, Beaufort, NC. Please attend and be part of this important process. 

Crossroads News

     At the April Board meeting, Penny Hooper resigned because of the press of other obligations. To fill the vacancy, the Board elected Mark Hooper, a fisherman from Smyrna who is also Penny's husband. We want to thank Penny for all her efforts through the years that she has been on the Board and we welcome Mark to the Board. Mark is vitally interested in water quality because of his clam aquaculture and soft crab business.

     At the May Board meeting, Bruce Ethridge was elected to fill the last Board vacancy. Bruce, a long time supporter of Crossroads, is the owner of the Beaufort Inn and a former State Representative. We welcome Bruce to the Board.

     Again, remember that a great way to help Crossroads is to attract new members. Please talk to friends who might be interested. You will be surprised how often the question:² Do you know about Crossroads?² is answered negatively‹and how often people are delighted to learn about us. If you give us a name and address, we will add it to the mailing list for five free newsletters

     We had a few replies to our query as to receiving the newsletter by e-mail and we will send it in this way starting with this issue. If you want to be included in the e-mail delivery of the Newsletter, just drop me a line at ihooper@mail.clis.com.

     Remember also that each issue of the newsletter is added to our web site. The web site also has position papers, back issues of the newsletter, photographs and lots of information about Crossroads. Take a look and let us know how you like it.