(a)  Description.  Coastal complex natural areas are defined as lands that support native plant and animal communities and provide habitat qualities which have remained essentially unchanged by human activity.  Such areas may be either significant components of coastal systems or especially notable habitat areas of scientific, educational, or aesthetic value.  They may be surrounded by landscape that has been modified but does not drastically alter conditions within the natural area.  Such areas may have been altered by human activity and/or subject to limited future modifications, e.g. the placement of dredge spoil, if the CRC determines that the modifications benefit the plant or animal habitat or enhance the biological, scientific or educational values which will be protected by designation as an AEC.

(b)  Significance.  Coastal complex natural areas function as key biological components of natural systems, as important scientific and educational sites, or as valuable scenic or cultural resources.  Often these natural areas provide habitat suitable for threatened or endangered species or support plant and animal communities representative of pre‑settlement conditions.  These areas help provide a historical perspective to changing natural habitats in the coastal area and together are important and irreplaceable scientific and educational resources.  The CRC may determine significance of a natural area by consulting the Natural Heritage Priority List maintained by the Natural Heritage Program within the Division of Parks and Recreation.  The CRC will establish a standing committee, composed of two or more members of the CRC, one or more members of the CRAC, and three or more members of the Natural Area Advisory Committee, to evaluate areas not included in the Natural Heritage Priority List.

(c)  Management Objectives.  The management objectives of this Rule are to protect the features of a designated coastal complex natural area in order to safeguard its biological relationships, educational and scientific values, and aesthetic qualities.  Specific objectives for each of these functions shall be related to the following policy statement either singly or in combination:

(1)           To protect the natural conditions or the sites that function as key or unique components of coastal systems.  The interactions of various life forms are the foremost concern and include sites that are necessary for the completion of life cycles, areas that function as links to other wildlife areas (wildlife corridors), and localities where the links between biological and physical environments are most fragile.

(2)           To protect the identified scientific and educational values and to ensure that the site will be accessible for related study purposes.

(3)           To protect the values of the designated coastal complex natural area as expressed by the local government and citizenry.  These values should be related to the educational and aesthetic qualities of the feature.


History Note:        Authority G.S. 113A‑107(a),(b); 113A‑113(b)(4)e; 113A‑24;

Eff. September 9, 1977;

Amended Eff. October 1, 1988; February 1, 1982.