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Fish Community Sampling Sites: The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Division of Water Quality,with funding from the NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund and in cooperation with the NC Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, developed the digital fish community sampling data to enhance water quality assessment & plan review of Trust Fund project applications. This file identifies points where fish community sampling has been done. Submerged Aquatic Vegetation: With funding from the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership (APNEP) and others [NC Division of Marine Fisheries (NC-DMF), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and US Fish and Wildlife Service (US-FWS)], digital data of coastal submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) was mapped by NC-DMF and Atkins for imagery years 2006-2008 with a planned update by the NC Department of Transportation for imagery years 2012-2013. In addition to its role as critical habitat for many aquatic fauna species, SAV is an important bio-indicator of environmental health because of its sensitivity to aquatic stressors. The ability to detect SAV is critical in understanding ecosystem health and effects of restoration and protection activities. As such, this dataset was developed and intended for research and/or planning. Because SAV distribution, abundance, and density varies seasonally and annually in response to climatic variability, large-scale SAV changes may occur and because of its dynamic nature, this data needs to be continually updated as monitoring continues in the APNEP region. Natural Heritage Element Occurrences: The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program in cooperation with the NC Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, developed the digital Natural Heritage Element Occurrences data for research or planning projects that will contribute to better protection for the ecological features involved. The file enables the user to identify locations of rare and endangered species populations and occurrences of exemplary or unique natural ecosystems (terrestrial and palustrine) and special wildlife habitats. This file covers the state of North Carolina. Due to its dynamic nature, this data becomes outdated very quickly. Natural Heritage Program Natural Areas: The Natural Heritage Program Natural Areas (NHPNA) data identifies terrestrial and aquatic sites that are of special biodiversity significance. A natural area's significance may be due to the presence of rare species, exemplary natural communities, or important animal assemblages. These conservation targets are referred to collectively as "elements" of biodiversity. The boundaries are drawn by North Carolina Natural Heritage Program (NCNHP) staff, based on field surveys conducted by NCNHP staff and other professional biologists. Conditions on the ground may have changed since the boundaries were drawn, and areas outside of boundaries do not necessarily fail to qualify for natural area status; they simply may not have been surveyed. Thus, the boundaries are considered approximate. Shellfish Growing Areas: The North Carolina (NC) Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Division of Environmental Health (DEH) - Shellfish Sanitation and Recreational Water Quality Section (SSRWQ) identifies Designated Shellfish Growing Areas (SGA) covering the entire NC coast. The SSRWQ performs water sampling at designated stations throughout the year to determine the extent of contamination of waters in each SGA, and submits recommendations to the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) to close or open waters for shellfish harvesting. The DMF disseminates a proclamation with SSRWQ recommendations to create closed harvesting areas with specified closure boundaries, in which the harvest of shellfish is prohibited. Waters within each SGA may be permanently closed (prohibited), open (approved), or subject to being opened or closed (conditionally approved open or conditionally approved closed) based on an existing management plan for the area.
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