All posts by Rick Savage

September Message from the Executive Director

Greetings Wetland supporters!

Finally after a 2 year break beacuse of the pandemic,  in person meetings are happening fast and furious.  First, I attended the Annual Meeting of the National Association of Wetland Managers (August 15 – August 18) in Shepherdstown, WV.  Then, I went to NC Conservation Network’s conference (August 30 and 31) in Raleigh.  Finally, last week I attended the first-ever Future of Conservation Forum (September 6-8) in Chapel Hill, NC.  That was three conferences in four weeks! 

National Association of Wetland Managers

Meeting of the National Association of Wetland Managers, 2022

The National Association of Wetland Managers (NAWM, previously known as the Association of State Wetland Managers) has always been the “premier” conference for wetland practitioners with excellent presentations that are both timely and very relevant.  This year was no exception.  NAWM has always had a heavy focus on wetland policy, especially since the courts have made significant rulings on the Waters of the US and three Presidential Administrations have tried to define the rules to meet court rulings and to protect wetlands (or in one case, to reduce wetland protection).  Protecting Waters in a Time of Rapid Change was the theme of the first day.  The day two theme was Sharing the Marsh – Approaches to Equitably Engaging Communities in Wetland Protection and Restoration.  This is where I was allowed to give a two minute speech about our work with vulnerable communities who are being flooded along rivers and streams.  This generated a lot of discussions and put the Carolina Wetlands Association in a national light.  The theme for day 3 morning session was Building Your Nest – Developing a Community of Practice through Effective Outreach and Communications and the afternoon sessions was Foraging for Funds – Sticking Your Straw into the Infrastructure Pot for Climate Resiliency.  There was a lot of emphasis on working with tribes and including minority communities in our work.  Environmental Justice was also on the minds of many participants.  Day four changed focus a bit with the theme being on technology:  Learning to Fly – Advances in Geospatial Tools and Technology.  The full agenda can be found here. A lot of good networking occurred even though I probably knew fewer people at the meeting than I ever have.

North Carolina Conservation Network

The NC Conservation Network Conference, 2022. Speaking is NC Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Elizabeth Biser and Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Reid Wilson is on the far left. Brian Buzby ED of NCCN is in the middle.

The NC Conservation Network (NCCU) put on a two day conference for their affiliates and of course Carolina Wetlands Association has been an affiliate for many years.  The conference was very focused on what nonprofits were most interested in hearing about.  The opening session had two secretaries from state government discusss legislative and policy priorities for their respective agencies, current areas of concern, and opportunities for progress moving forward.  The next session was one of the best where foundation leaders focused on environmental nonprofits discuss their perspectives on the future of funding in NC.  The rest of the sessions dealt with conducting better meetings, managing staff, communication tools and dealing with media.  The final session was a very important session with environmental Justice professionals with a wide variety of experience and expertise share their insights into how our partners can identify opportunities to advance environmental justice work in their own organizations, communities, and issue areas.  This session was very informative.  The full agenda can be found here.

Future of Conservation forum

Dr. Alan Weakley giving the opening presentation for the Future of Conservation forum.

The final conference was the Future of Conservation forum (the first but apparently not the last) put on by several groups, but primarily by the NC Botanical Garden and the NC Heritage Program.  The opening session was a wonderful, informative presentation by Dr. Alan Weakley to start forum.  He pointed to so many things we need to be concerned about and how much we still don’t know about how to best deal with climate change.  He also discussed how the Southeast is the most diverse area in North America and we need to give major emphasis that how to adapt this biodiversity.  He pointed out some research of past rapid climate changes in local regions on the planet where fauna and flora was able to adapt, but even here, they have 100s of years as opposed to decades.  The next session was about climate change in NC and following that was a presentation of the Southeast blueprint by the SE Conservation Adaptation Strategy.  Two parallel sessions were in the afternoon, one on conservation, resilience and human communities and one on conservation, resilience and natural communities.  In the late afternoon there were sessions on conservation and zoology and conservation and botany.  The second day dealt with various ways of mapping our natural resources and diversity to help with decision making.  Eric Soderholm of TNC gave a great presentation on peatland (Pocosin) restoration.  The afternoon of the second day dealt with protection of wildlife corridors and conservation and environmental justice.  The Plenary speaker for day there with Dr. Madhu Katti (NCSU) talking about Decolonizing Ecology, which was very well done as well as eye opening.  There were more good sessions and the complete agenda can be found here.

The conferences were really good to get back to old friends in person, hearing great presentations and panel discussions.  And of course a lot of great networking and renewed interest in partnerships and new partnerships.  I hope you will also be about to attend in person meeting, conferences, workshops because there is a lot more to be gained in person  — a lot more!

So as the weather starts to cool, consider going out an exploring a wetland and watch this newsletter for more wetland tour opportunities.