December 21, 2012
Buxton’s Jim and Marcia Lyons are recognized for volunteerism
By Corinne Saunders
Coastal Review Online
and Marcia Lyons of Buxton have volunteered with the North Carolina
Coastal Federation on and off for about 10 years, and their devotion to
the recent living shoreline project at Durant’s Point in nearby
Hatteras earned them a Pelican Award from the federation.
Hallas, coastal education coordinator for the federation’s office in
Manteo, said it is sometimes hard for the small staff to have the
presence in remote Hatteras that they would like. The two islanders
consistently help spread the word of federation projects and bring new
volunteers to workdays there.
They are both very dedicated to protecting “their area of Hatteras that is very special and unique,” Hallas noted.
Point is a privately owned strip of land that shelters Hatteras Harbor,
and it was eroding at a rate of five to 10 feet a year. “If that was to
wash away, the harbor would be next,” Hallas said, noting numerous
commercial fishermen are based in the harbor, which is also culturally
and ecologically significant.
The living shoreline approach to
shoreline stabilization involves controlling erosion with the least
environmental impact; in fact, it actually creates estuarine habitat.
Creating a living shoreline for Durant’s Point began in March 2011, after grant funding was secured.
planted there the last two spring seasons, [and the Lyons] were
instrumental in getting thousands of marsh grass plugs in the ground,”
Marcia had formerly helped plant marsh grasses in a
similar living shoreline project in Ocracoke, and said she loves that
the federation promotes the natural way of stabilizing shorelines, as
opposed to wooden bulkheads or stone walls.
“It’s so much work to get the permits and all that beforehand,” Marcia stated. “I was really excited when it happened here.”
of the federation’s main goals, Marcia noted, is raising awareness of
the values submerged aquatic grasses and tidal grasses in salt marshes
bring to whole estuary. The grasses provide habitat for aquatic life
while buffering the land from the winds and tides.
Durant’s Point is only accessible by water, Jim’s use of his boat to
transport people and supplies was also crucial to the project. The
federation didn’t have a workboat at that time, Hallas said.
Jim also helped transport a graduate student, Rachel Gittman, who was doing studies of underwater grasses in that area.
helped take her out whenever she came, which was a lot,” Jim said,
noting that he thought it was fun to work with both the young
researcher and the federation.
“It was a lucky set of
circumstances; lucky for me, lucky for Rachel, lucky for the coastal
federation,” he said. “I’m very honored. It was a lot of hours, (but)
not really a lot of difficult hours.”
Jim, a Norfolk, Va.,
native who moved to Buxton in 1973, said he has always been involved in
fishing, hunting and surfing, and he knew Jan DeBlieu, who worked for
the coastal federation, very well.
“We helped Jan with some
research for a water quality study [years ago],” he said. “We went to
eight or nine workshops, talked about estuarine concerns. I took water
samples from Hatteras Island.”
Jim believes that an “estuarine
environment can be a healthy, productive resource that can benefit
everyone if managed properly.” The water “has certainly given me lots
of enjoyment,” he said.
The local waters’ organically raised
food can perpetuate itself forever if taken care of, he said, and
“should be incredibly productive.”
But since 1973, he has seen a decline in the Pamlico Sound’s food production.
of his friends are commercial fishermen, whom he describes as fishing
by proxy for the numerous people who like to eat seafood but do not
necessarily want to go catch it. For the fishermen’s livelihood and the
health of the area in general, he says it’s essential to protect water
quality and habitat.
The living shoreline project at Durant’s Point helps do just that.
nice to think we can protect shorelines and actually increase
biodiversity and biomass with the right kind of structures conducive to
small animals [and] vertebrates.”
His wife agrees.
native of Boston, Mass., who moved here in 1976 and worked for the
National Park Service for 32 years, Marcia said she has always loved
coastal systems and salt marsh systems.
“They are great places for exploring, great places for education,” she said.
of her favorite activities while working for the Park Service was
taking people out with nets and exploring the shallow waters. “It was
always like a little treasure hunt,” she recalls. “People were always
surprised how productive (the waters were).”
Sharing a love for the local wetlands, Jim and Marcia Lyons regularly put their beliefs to work in preserving the environment.