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RALEIGH, N.C. (Sept. 26) - The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission's Oyster Creek boating access area has won an Outstanding Project award from the States Organization for Boating Access (SOBA) in the small-access category. The access area, located in eastern Carteret County, won for its quality and innovative design.

Mark Cooney, facilities engineer for the Commission's Division of Engineering Services, accepted the award on behalf of the Commission during SOBA's 20th Annual Conference in Tampa, Fla., on Monday.

The boating access area, completed in 2005, provides boaters, hunters and anglers access to Core Sound with minimal impact on an ecologically important estuary. The estuary, with its extensive marshes, is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including blue herons, raccoons, Carolina watersnakes, blue crabs, oysters, scallops and other small marine organisms. Tundra swans and other waterfowl winter on the creek and popular game fishes, such as red drum, speckled trout, spot and croakers use the estuary as a nursery area.

Commission personnel incorporated many fish-and-wildlife-friendly features when constructing the access area, paving part of the site with pervious concrete, a porous substance that allows stormwater to drain through quickly, even in heavy rains. They also constructed an asphalt driveway surface that is angled toward a pervious parking area which serves as a natural filtering system, filtering off petroleum and other pollutants 3 to 5 feet below the pavement.

A stone sill, a shallow-water rock structure, was also built parallel to the shore and planted with marsh grasses to stabilize the shoreline, protect the access site from beach erosion and provide a home to shellfish, crustaceans and juvenile fishes.

Fish and wildlife are not the only ones to benefit from the access site's innovative design. Disabled-boater features, such as an 8-foot-wide floating dock with handicap handrail and a 10'x50' vehicle/trailer parking space joined to a paved walkway, make the ramp accessible to hunters, anglers and boaters of all abilities.

"We are very proud to receive this recognition," said Gordon Myers, chief of the Division of Engineering Services. "Public access is fundamental to meeting the conservation mission of the Wildlife Resources Commission; and in keeping with our stewardship responsibility, it is essential to design facilities that minimize environmental impacts. We strive to build sustainability using solutions that restore, if not regenerate, habitat."

SOBA, a nationwide organization, comprises boating officials, consultants, engineering firms, manufacturers, suppliers, publishers and other businesses associated with boating access. For more information on SOBA, visit the Web site, www.sobaus.org.

For more information on boating and boating access areas in North Carolina, visit the Commission's Web site, www.ncwildlife.org, or call the Division of Engineering Services, (919) 707-0150.
 

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