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Efforts to Restore N.C. Coast Pedal Toward Success

Hundreds of cyclists of all skill levels will ride on Saturday to raise money for the North Carolina Coastal Federation's ongoing restoration and education projects. Courtesy: Sam Bland/N.C. Coastal Federation.
Hundreds of cyclists of all skill levels will ride on Saturday to raise money for the North Carolina Coastal Federation's ongoing restoration and education projects. Courtesy: Sam Bland/N.C. Coastal Federation.
September 22, 2015

NEWPORT, N.C. – The summer beach season may be winding down along North Carolina's coast, but the work to maintain the health of the shoreline continues year round.

Doctor Lexia Weaver is a coastal scientist with the North Carolina Coastal Federation, one of the groups working to restore wetlands as habitats for fish and shellfish, prevent erosion and build new oyster reefs.

"The more and more projects that we put in the ground," she says, "the more rain gardens we do, the more salt marsh that we plant, little by little it starts adding up and makes a big dent in terms of helping out our coastal waters."

This Saturday hundreds of cyclists will participate in the annual Cycling for the Coast benefit, which raises money for the federation's habitat restoration and education programs. Beginning at Fort Macon State Park in Carteret County, the ride offers distances for riders of all skill levels, from 20 kilometers up to 80.

North Carolina has more than 3,000 square miles of salt marshes that provide food and shelter for wildlife, a nursery for young marine species and filter pollutants from stormwater runoff. Weaver says regardless of where one may live in North Carolina, the coastline is a vital part of the ecosystem.

"If we want to enjoy the coast, whether it's on vacation or we live here, we have to be very proactive and try and protect it." she says. "Whether it's during a clean-up or if we're preventing stormwater runoff from getting into the estuaries."

In addition to restoring and protecting wetlands, Weaver says encouraging low-impact development is key to the health of the coastline. That includes utilizing porous surfaces to reduce stormwater runoff, preserving open space and collecting rainwater for use in landscape irrigation.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC