DCERP program releases findings from recent Camp Lejeune environmental study

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT)–A study conducted on Camp Lejeune’s effects on the New River is revealing how the base and surrounding area impacts the marine environment.

One of the main concerns raised by scientists is how activity upstream will affect the New River proper, the animals that live in it, and the recreation that happens on it.

Camp Lejeune commissioned the Defense Coastal Estuarine Research Program (DCERP) to conduct tests of the base’s effect on marine environments.

One goal of the study was to assess how activity at the upper watershed affects the New River proper.

Eutrophication is the main problem in the estuary which results in fish kills due to lack of oxygen.

The county could face potential economic effects if it’s not corrected.

“Without good water quality, you can lose recreational quality in the New River, you could lose fish, lose all the things that people expect from it as a natural resource,” Mike Piehler, UNC-IMS said.

“The Marine Corps has to provide realistic training areas so they have to take care of the areas,” Pat Cunningham, DCERP Principal Investigator, said. “They can’t run vehicles until the vegetation is completely gone. They have to keep these areas because there isn’t any new base land.

The New River is nitrogen limited and to improve water quality management must look at those levels.

The majority of nutrient loading comes from off-base, over 60%. The base contributes 10%.

Researchers say this isn’t shocking and the base appears to be working very carefully to preserve its resources.

DCERP committed 10 years to studying the New River and will hold a symposium in Raleigh highlighting key findings in October.

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