The volunteers and project team for the Pilot Volunteer Wetland Monitoring Program enjoyed our second round of data collection activities on four consecutive days in early June. Since we were concerned that trying to fit all of the planned monitoring activities would be difficult to complete in a timeframe that would work for volunteers and the VWMP team, we split this monitoring series into four days. The weather cooperated and we had four straight days of warm temperatures and mostly clear skies.
Our schedule included collecting well and water sampling data on the week days of June 2nd and 3rd and a combination of amphibian observations, site visit surveys and vegetation surveys on the weekend of June 4th and 5th.
Dr. Mike Burchell (NC State Dept of Bio&Ag Engineering) led our group of volunteers in taking water level and water quality samples to analyze and compare to previous sampling data.
Even with the need to do water monitoring on the weekdays, volunteer turnout was good and all of the volunteers were able to get great hands-on experience. We’re looking forward to getting our first glimpses of the results of this sampling as it compares to the sampling done in February.
Following the expertise of Thomas Reed (Wake County) we did an amphibian survey at all three wetland locations and the results are available to view on iNaturalist in our project page. Highlights of our survey were observations of a few Green Frogs, an American Water Frog and a Northern Cricket Frog. We also encountered a Spotted Salamander, a Northern Dusky Salamander and a Southern Two Lined Salamander.
This time out in the field, we reduced our amphibian survey time since it was deemed a potential habitat disturbance by having too much time and too many people doing the amphibian surveys. We also learned from our previous site visits to take our time and make sure the iNaturalist observations are completed immediately while in the study site and paid particular attention to recording water data when an amphibian was observed in water.
Amanda Johnson (VWMP Project Manager) and Rick Savage (Carolina Wetlands Association Executive Director) led us in completing vegetation surveys for 10 x 10 trees & shrubs vegetation plots and 5 x 5 herbaceous vegetation plots.
This survey activity resulted in 159 total vegetation observations that can be accessed through our iNaturalist project.
On our project page, you will be able to view all of the photos and recorded information on each species in our study area vegetation plots.
Planning and Logistics
Overall, things went pretty smoothly with cold water and snacks helping us to power through our monitoring days. All of our meeting locations worked out great except for one day at Mason Farm where the designated lot was full of attendees at a nearby sporting event. We will again adjust the meeting location for future monitoring visits at Mason Farm and will now meet inside the farm at the grassy area near our site area 1 (this may require us to limit the number of volunteers we can have out at Mason Farm at a time).
We still feel the need to figure out a way to not feel so rushed to complete all of our monitoring in the time given so will continue to reevaluate the schedule for future site visits.
Make A Difference Week
Finally, as part of this round of monitoring visits, we represented Carolina Wetlands Association as participants in the Society for Ecological Restoration’s Make a Difference Week project.
We conducted litter sweeps at all three of our wetland sites in the VWMP.
Our next field work days are planned for September of 2022.
A post monitoring site visit survey will be sent to all volunteers to gather information about their feelings toward the various elements of this phase of the pilot project and this will help inform decisions on upcoming site visits and other program activities and events.
Stay up to date on the Pilot Volunteer Wetland Monitoring Program Website and feel free to reach out to the volunteer coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
We want to thank our contacts at each of the wetlands in our program: Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve, Mason Farm Biological Reserve and Robertson Millpond Preserve.