At the Dare County Board of Commissioners meeting
on March 6, the Hon. J. Richard Parker (Retired), a Roanoke Island
resident for 37 years, outlined a funding issue for the upcoming Oregon
Inlet Artificial Reef.
Parker is serving as chairman of Oregon Inlet
Artificial Reef Committee, a division of the Outer Banks Anglers Club,
and the committee is seeking to fund the construction of a new
artificial reef in the Oregon Inlet area.
The location of the proposed reef has already
been approved by the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, and
has also already given a number – AR165. The location of the reef will
be approximately eight miles south of the Oregon Inlet sea buoy, and
about three miles offshore in roughly 70’ ft. of water.
“We have a lot of folks coming here fishing, and
[the reef is] only eight miles from the sea buoy, so there would be a
lot of bottom fishing done there in relatively small boats,” said
County Commissioner Wally Overman at the meeting. “You could get there
and back to the inlet, without fear of getting into too much trouble –
it’s a good project.”
AR165 will be comprised of two retired vessels in
the neighborhood of 100-200’ ft. in length, as well as several thousand
tons of concrete pipe. The primary source of funding for the project
will be a grant from the Coastal Recreational Fishing License (CRFL)
The state of North Carolina has been selling
CRFLs since 2007 and everybody age 16 and older who fishes in coastal
waters has to purchase a license of some sort – whether it is a 10-day
license, annual license, or a lifetime license.
According to Parker, since 2007, Dare County has
been either #1 or #2 in the sales of these licenses every year. “We
sell about 80,000 licenses a year, and we generate – in Dare County –
about $1 million dollars per year [from the sale of these licenses],”
The money that is collected from the fishing
licenses is used to fund CRFL grants. As Parker reported at the BOC
meeting, in the past 10 years, none of this funding has been returned
to Dare County for the construction or the enhancement of artificial
Parker was asked by the board if Dare County had
ever received any funds from CRFL. “Not that I know of,” he replied,
noting that he did not go all the way back to 2007 when the program
started. “The only thing I know of is in 2015, Jennette’s Pier
requested some funding and received a little over $11,000 for the pier
for part-time help.”
With these numbers in mind, in 2016, the Oregon
Inlet Artificial Reef Committee submitted a grant proposal to the
Marine Fisheries CRFL committee. “In fact, we were the only group in
2016 to submit a grant proposal,” said Parker.
“We were recently informed by the CRFL committee
that we were approved in the amount of $371,000 for year one of our
proposal, but we were required to provide matching funds of $264,600.
These matching funds came to 30% of the total project value.”
“With the exception of North Carolina State
University, no other group in the state of North Carolina has ever been
required to provide matching funds in the amount of 30%,” he added,
“[And] matching funds are not a requirement for receiving a grant
proposal. They are [just] encouraged, as way of showing support for
The Oregon Inlet Artificial Reef Committee has
made efforts to solicit contributions from businesses and individuals,
and also started a Go Fund Me account and PayPal account to accept
contributions. “Unfortunately, we’ve only been able to raise about
$1,000,” said Parker. “I’m here to ask you for your help.”
Parker drafted a letter for the board to send to
the Chairman of the NC Marine Fisheries Commission and the Director of
the NC Division of Marine Fisheries to reconsider the 30% matching
requirement. The board unanimously approved sending the letter.
“In the event your CRFL Committee insists on
requiring the Oregon Inlet Artificial Reef Committee to provide
matching funds of 30% of the total project value, we offer the
following solution,” the final letter reads. “Designate the first
$264,600 of CRFL sales in Dare County during the current cycle as
matching funds for our local group’s funding proposal. The roughly $700
in remaining revenue would still be about twice as much as produced by
the next closest coastal community.”
The letter also noted that while Dare County had
received no funds in the past 10 years for artificial reef enhancement
or construction, other coastal counties had “benefitted substantially
by way of CRFL grants.” For example, the letter reports, in 2014, the
Onslow Bay Artificial Reef Association in New Hanover County received a
grant in the amount of $637,500, while in 2015 the Long Bay Artificial
Reef Association located in Brunswick County received a grant in the
amount of $339,000.
The letter was signed by Dare County Commissioner Chairman Bob Woodard and was sent on March 7.
A PDF of the full letter can be read here.