(a)  Description.  Public trust areas are all waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the lands thereunder from the mean high water mark to the seaward limit of state jurisdiction; all natural bodies of water subject to measurable lunar tides and lands thereunder to the normal high water or normal water level; all navigable natural bodies of water and lands thereunder to the normal high water or normal water level as the case may be, except privately-owned lakes to which the public has no right of access; all water in artificially created bodies of water containing public fishing resources or other public resources which are accessible to the public by navigation from bodies of water in which the public has rights of navigation; and all waters in artificially created bodies of water in which the public has acquired rights by prescription, custom, usage, dedication, or any other means.  In determining whether the public has acquired rights in artificially created bodies of water, the following factors shall be considered:

(1)           the use of the body of water by the public;

(2)           the length of time the public has used the area;

(3)           the value of public resources in the body of water;

(4)           whether the public resources in the body of water are mobile to the extent that they can move into natural bodies of water;

(5)           whether the creation of the artificial body of water required permission from the state; and

(6)           the value of the body of water to the public for navigation from one public area to another public area.

(b)  Significance.  The public has rights in these areas, including navigation and recreation.  In addition, these areas support commercial and sports fisheries, have aesthetic value, and are important resources for economic development.

(c)  Management Objective.  To protect public rights for navigation and recreation and to conserve and manage the public trust areas so as to safeguard and perpetuate their biological, economic and aesthetic value.

(d)  Use Standards.  Acceptable uses shall be those consistent with the management objectives in Paragraph (c) of this Rule.  In the absence of overriding public benefit, any use which jeopardizes the capability of the waters to be used by the public for navigation or other public trust rights which the public may be found to have in these areas shall not be allowed.  The development of navigational channels or drainage ditches, the use of bulkheads to prevent erosion, and the building of piers, wharfs, or marinas are examples of uses that may be acceptable within public trust areas, provided that such uses shall not be detrimental to the public trust rights and the biological and physical functions of the estuary.  Projects which would directly or indirectly block or impair existing navigation channels, increase shoreline erosion, deposit spoils below normal high water, cause adverse water circulation patterns, violate water quality standards, or cause degradation of shellfish waters are considered incompatible with the management policies of public trust areas.  In every instance, the particular location, use, and design characteristics shall be in accord with the general use standards for coastal wetlands, estuarine waters, and public trust areas.


History Note:        Authority G.S. 113A‑107(a); 113A‑107(b); 113A‑113(b)(5); 113A‑124;

Eff. September 9, 1977;

Amended Eff. February 1, 2006; October 1, 1993.