Loggerhead plan could help turtles, worries locals

POSTED: 6:26 PM Aug 08 2013
MOREHEAD CITY -

A proposal meant to protect loggerhead sea turtle habitat is raising among coastal towns.

The plan, which would designate 750 miles of shoreline as critical habitat for the turtles, would cover the entirety of Bogue Banks as well as Topsail Island and beaches near Wilmington. Some locals are worried the designation could affect beach renourishment or beach driving during the off season.

"The town of Emerald Isle greatly supports and greatly values sea turtle efforts," Town Manager Frank Rush said. "In this particular case we are worried this is just an additional level of federal regulation that's going to make it difficult and expensive for the town to accomplish its goals."

However, Pete Benjamin, a field supervisor for the US Fish and Wildlife Service says he doesn't think the designation will effect much. He hopes it will just let the public know where the turtles tend to live.

"In terms of how it affects activities on the beach or beach renourishment activities, the affects should be very small," Benjamin said.

A public meeting was held at the Morehead City Convention Center to address public concern. There, people can ask questions about the plan and take a look at the critical habitat map.

The proposal lists critical habitat as far south as Florida, and as far west as Alabama.

Benjmain said no action will take place until next summer. He said they will have enough public feedback to know how to proceed at that time.