Bald Head Island Conservancy

Second Annual Johnston Coastal Sustainability Symposium

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On April 4th, the Johnston Center for Coastal Sustainability will be holding its second annual Coastal Sustainability Symposium. Experts in coastal sustainability will gather on Bald Head Island to share knowledge about the coastal environment and climate science with the public.

This annual symposium is a key facet of the Johnston Center for Coastal Sustainability, which was established by the Bald Head Island Conservancy to serve as a research partnership and education hub for sustainability related initiatives on Bald Head Island. The mission statement of the center is “To promote the conservation and preservation of coastal resources for future generations in response to climate and other anthropogenic change in a manner that balances environmental, economic, and social factors.” The Coastal Sustainability Symposium creates a space to network with sustainability experts and learn about topics that relate to our local sustainability initiatives and goals.

Morning: Sustainability Presentations at BHA Generator Society Hall


This session will include presentations by experts in a variety of coastal and sustainability fields including shoreline processes, ocean energy, marsh ecology and restoration, community engagement, coastal engineering, and sociopolitical communications. Additionally, there will be a Q&A Panel on topics of public concern so bring your questions! Our invited speakers hail from UNCW, Georgia Tech, ECU, Coastal Studies Institute, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, NC Coastal Federation, and Village of BHI. There is no cost to attend this morning session, but please register by emailing BHI Conservancy Executive Director Dr. Chris Shank ( Spaces are limited!

9:00-9:10 Welcoming Remarks and Center Updates since 2022 | Chris Shank – Bald Head Island Conservancy

Session 1: Sustainability Science and Engineering

9:10-9:25 Human–Coastal Coupled Systems: Ten Questions | Dylan McNamara – UNC Wilmington Dept. of Physics and Physical Oceanography

9:25-9:40 Hidden Heroes of the Salt Marsh and Their Potential Role in Ecosystem Restoration | Joel Kostka – Georgia Tech School of Biological Sciences

9:40-9:55 The Fate of Blue Carbon Under Sea Level Rise | Molly Mitchell – Virginia Institute of Marine Science

9:55-10:10 Powering NC’s Blue Economy and Beyond | George Bonner – Coastal Studies Institute

10:10-10:20 Break

Session 2: Implementing Coastal Sustainability Practices and Policy

10:20-10:35 Coastal Sustainability & Shoreline Management: 2025 Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project | Chris McCall – Village of Bald Head Island

10:35-10:50 Studying Physical/Ecosystem Dynamics of Frying Pan Shoals to Inform Potential Sand Use and Impacts | Joe Long – UNC Wilmington Dept. of Physics and Physical Oceanography/Coastal Engineering

10:50-11:05 Living Shorelines: A Win/Win for Shoreline Protection and the Environment | Tracy Skrabal – NC Coastal Federation (previously)

11:05-11:20 Sustainability – Challenges in Policy and Planning with a Moving Target Concept | Samantha Mosier – East Carolina University Dept. of Political Science

11:20-11:30 Coastal Sustainability through Land Preservation on BHI | Jim Brown – BHIC and SILT Board Member

11:30-11:50 Q&A with Invited Guests = Feel Free to Ask Questions! 1150-1200 Concluding Remarks | Chris Shank – Bald Head Island Conservancy

Evening: Dinner Lecture at BHI Club


The second session will be from 5:15pm-8:00pm at BHI Club. This session will be a dinner lecture held at the BHI Club and will include a presentation from Dr. Craig Landry from the University of Georgia entitled “The Economics of Barrier Island Habitation.” There will be a cash bar starting at 5:15pm, lecture starting at 6:00pm, and buffet dinner starting at 7:00pm. Reservations for this session must be made separately through the BHI Club. Cost is $49 per person. BHI Club Members use your ClubNow App for reservations! Non-members and Members may also email or call 910.477.5010 to make reservations. Reservation deadline is March 31.

We are very grateful to Dick & Pat Johnston for sponsoring the Bald Head Island Conservancy’s Coastal Sustainability Center Initiative. We’re looking forward to gathering on April 4, and we hope to see you there!


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