Message from the President

Dearest wetland supporters:

Just wanted to say a big thank you for all your support. 2019 was a big year for us as we were able to start several new projects and will be starting others in 2020. We cannot do this without your support, both financially and in volunteering.

A major effort that Carolina Wetlands Association was working with the Natural and Working Lands initiative started by the Governor’s office and managed by NC DEQ. This is a stakeholder group of state and federal agencies, NGOs and nonprofits, and experts from academia. Kim Matthews, Heather Clarkson and I work on this effort all year long and recommendations are currently being written up.

The recommendations focus on forest and wetland restoration to sequester more carbon, the co-benefits that result in terms of ecosystem services (such as water quality, flood control, etc.), and the building of community resilience. Along with these recommendations, are many policy suggestions such as expanding the floodplain buyout program to include farms, environmental equity, public outreach and education and the role of citizen science. I was also invited to attend a meeting of the US Climate Alliance in Washington, DC a part of the NC delegation.

From the Natural and Working Lands effort and with meeting with many other environmental organization in the state, Carolina Wetlands Association has taken on the challenge to develop a workshop to educate local decision makers about wetland value, their place in nature-based solutions and how they help build community resilience. The first version of the workshop was presented at the SeaGrant Coastal Conference in Wilmington in November. Amanda Johnson, David Shouse, Kim Mathews and I attended the meeting and presented the workshop. Very valuable feedback was received and the workshop will be updated. It is likely that NC Office of Recovery and Resiliency will partner with us on this workshop which we view as important to implementing the recommendations of the Natural and Working Lands initiative.

We also did our normal events to advocate for wetlands at Cary Arbor day, Reptile and Amphibian day at the NC Natural Science Museum, Bass Lake Day, meet and greet events in Asheville and Durham.

Plans for a SC Wetlands Matter event is being planed for March in Georgetown. There are also plans being made to have a similar Wetlands Matter event in Hilton Head Island, SC with the Coastal Discovery Museum and the HHI Land Trust later in 2020.

Carolina Wetlands Association was a sponsor to the WRRI conference in March for the second straight year. We had one session with four wetland papers and we had a panel discussion with Geoff Gisler (Southern Environmental Law Center and Carolina Wetlands Association), Norton Webster (Carolina Wetlands Association), Phil May (Carolina Ecology), and Michael Flynn (NC Coastal Federation) about the rule changes to the waters of the US (WOTUS).

The Association also was a sponsor for the America Ecological Engineering Society (AEES) annual meeting in Asheville in June. This was a great conference with Kim Matthews, Norton Webster and I attending. We were able to get quite a few ecological engineering/restoration companies interested in Carolina Wetlands as well as many of the attendees. The AEES is a national organization.

This past year also saw our newest Wetland Treasure selections: Bluff Mountain Fen (Ash County, NC), Croatan National Forest (Craven, Carteret, and Jones Counties, NC), Merchants Mill Pond (Gates County, NC), Santee Coastal Preserve (Charleston County, SC), and Woods Bay (Florence, Clarendon, and Sumter counties, SC). The wetland treasure tours were well attended, and all had a great time learning about their area wetlands.

Early in the year there were several meetings between Carolina Wetlands, RTI International and NC State University to talk about a grant to develop a volunteer wetland monitoring program. Michael Burchell and Natalie Nelson of NCSU, Kim Matthews of RTI and Carolina Wetlands Association, and I wrote an EPA Wetlands Program Development grant and was awarded the grant in June. We will be starting work on developing that volunteer wetland monitoring program with a few of our wetland treasures in 2020. This is a major accomplishment for the organization and will provide a project that will hopefully be sustainable with several sources of funding.

We will need to continue to have your support in 2020 as this will be our best year yet. We are making a difference. If you have not made your financial contribution, please do so and contact us if you want to help out on any of these projects.

Happy New Year and start the new year by exploring a wetland.
Rick