Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are estimating the cost of designating special loggerhead sea turtle habitats along the Southeast coast. The federal agency released a draft proposal saying it will cost $150,000 annually to protect areas in North Carolina and five other states.
Ninety-six miles of North Carolina beaches in Onslow, Carteret, Pender, New Hanover and Brunswick counties would be protected. Pete Benjamin of the Fish and Wildlife Service says the cost of maintaining habitats in North Carolina will be split up.
"About $23,000 a year," Benjamin explains. "About 46 percent of those costs will be on us, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the additional review we have to do. About 38 percent felt by the other the federal agencies we have to coordinate with, and the remainder felt by the other entities that are involved in beach nourishment and other types of coastal projects."
Benjamin says people would not be restricted from beach activity in the protected areas; it would only affect activities that require federal permitting. The agency is holding public comment periods in Wilmington and Morehead City next month.