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Personnel File - August 2008: Energy / Environment


Frank Tursi
Coastkeeper, N.C. Coastal Federation

For more than 30 years, Frank Tursi chased the news as a reporter and editor for newspapers such as the Miami Herald and the Winston-Salem Journal. But in 2002, he became Cape Lookout coastkeeper for the North Carolina Coastal Federation, a Newport-based nonprofit. Tursi, 57, watches for pollution or developments that could harm the quality of the water and the coastline. A Brooklyn, N.Y., native, he moved to Asheville at 14 when the textile company his father worked for opened a plant there. He got a bachelor’s in English in 1973 at East Carolina University.

We’re often accused of wanting to stop growth and development. That’s never been the philosophy here at the Coastal Federation. The trick is to attract growth that doesn’t totally devastate the environment. The industry out here is the water. It’s the basis of the coast’s economic vitality. If we can protect it, then we are securing our economic future.”

“The newspaper business had just changed dramatically since my days as a cub reporter. There were some cost constraints, but back in those days your only job was to get the story, to work however many hours it took, to go wherever you needed to go. These days, the bean counters are in charge.”

“I grew up a block away from Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn. I’d take my fishing rod and spend the day, like Otis Redding, sitting on the dock of the bay. When I was 9 or 10, my uncle bought a bungalow in Lindenhurst, Long Island. This was before the days of the great exodus from Manhattan to Long Island, and it was very much like many parts of coastal North Carolina are today. I’d spend the entire summer there with my cousin just fishing and crabbing and mucking through the marsh.”