All posts by Kim Matthews

Press Release: Celebrate Wetland Treasures this Spring!

Raleigh, NC –  Carolina Wetlands Association joins wetlands enthusiasts all over the country to raise public awareness about the beauty and importance of the nation’s wetlands during April, Earth Month. To promote the importance of wetland ecosystems, the Carolina Wetlands Association announces its fourth class of Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas. Wetland Treasures contain ecologically valuable wetlands, protected by conservation plans, and diversity of plants and animals.

“We are thrilled to celebrate these Wetland Treasures,” said Carrie Caviness, coordinator of this project. “We hope Carolinians will take pride in our wetland heritage, and we owe a great deal of gratitude to the organizations and agencies that are protecting these natural treasures,” said Caviness. The 2019 Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas are as follows (click on links to view a factsheet):

“We are offering tours of all our 2019 wetland treasure sites starting the first weekend in May thru June 8. We invite Carolinians to come experience the beauty, wonder and ecology of wetlands up close with us,” said Rick Savage, President of the Carolina Wetlands Association. Field tours details are listed above, as well as on the Carolina Wetlands Association website at carolinawetlands.org.

Wetlands play an important role in both the ecology and economy of the Carolinas. They are beautiful, magical places and are sanctuaries for people and wildlife. These hardworking ecosystems provide natural flood control and filter runoff, which helps keep our rivers, lakes, and drinking water clean.

Carolina Wetlands Association thanks the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, whose Wetland Gems program is the model for this program. Carolina Wetlands Association promotes the understanding, protection, restoration, and enjoyment of North and South Carolina’s wetlands and associated ecosystems through science-based programs, education, and advocacy. More information online at carolinawetlands.org.

Contact: Rick Savage, President, Carolina Wetlands Association rick.savage@carolinawetlands.org, carolinawetlands.org

2019 Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas

The Carolina Wetlands Association is proud to announce our 2019 Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas.  Through the Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas program, the Carolina Wetlands Association seeks to increase public awareness and appreciation of wetlands, and generate community pride in and commitment to stewardship of wetlands that have regional, national and even international importance.

The 2019 Wetland Treasures are located in both North and South Carolina and are found in the Coastal Plain, Piedmont, and Mountains.  These wetlands sites are importnat to protecting biodiversity, are ecologically high-quality, and provide significant ecosystem services.    

  • Bluff Mountain Fen in Ashe County, NC
    • Wetland Type: Southern Appalachian Fen
    • Unique Feature: Only known wetland type in the region
  • Croatan National Forest in Craven, Carteret, and Jones counties, NC
      •  Wetland Type: Pocosin (dominate type)
      • Unique Feature: Approximately 75% of the Croatan may be considered wetlands with pocosins comprising the majority of the wetland acreage.
  • Merchants Millpond in Gates County, NC
    • Wetland Type: Cypress-Gum Swamp (Blackwater)
    • Unique Feature: Created 190 years ago, a coastal pond and southern swamp forest mingle, creating one of North Carolina’s rarest ecological communities.
  • Santee Coastal Preserve in Charleston County, SC
    •  Wetland Type: Freshwater Cypress Swamp
    • Unique Feature: Once a rice plantation, this reserve provides essential habitat for many species of wildlife.
  • Woods Bay in Florence, Clarendon, and Sumter counties, SC
    • Wetland Type: Carolina Bay
    • Unique Feature: One of the last remaining, relatively undisturbed, large Carolina bays on the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain.

More information about the Wetland Treasures of the Carolina program including factsheets highlighting each site and directions on our website.  Stayed tune for more information about field tours to each of these Wetland Treasure sites in May and June.

We hope to see you in a wetland this spring!

Jessica Tisdale and Carrie Caviness
Carolina Wetlands Association

March Wetland Treasure of the Month: Lewis Ocean Bay

Minutes away from humming highways of Myrtle Beach and surrounded by the bustling urban development of Horry County, a natural wonderland and oasis flourish at SCDNR’s Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve. The 10,427 acre preserve protects Carolina bay/longleaf pine ecosystem complex that contains South Carolina’s best assemblage of Carolina bays. The preserve is linked via several swamp corridors to the Waccamaw River. These isolated wetlands provide essential food, water, cover, and space for many species, not to mention providing ecosystem services to the surrounding urban interface including flood mitigation, clean air, and recreation. This preserve not only provides wildlife viewing; it also provides hunting opportunities for the public.

Biodiversity

This is a fire-adapted ecosystem and prescribed burning continues to play a major role in shaping the ecosystem today. Fire favors herbaceous plants such as fly traps, pitcher plants and native orchids. The preserve is home to several rare species, including Venus fly trap, savannah milkweed, pitcher plants and the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.

Water Supply

The natural lands of the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve protect the water supply of nearby urban areas.

Recreation

The preserve is open to the public from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset. This is a great place to go for hike and a good place to view birds.

For more information

Wetland Treasure of the Month: Green Swamp

The Nature Conservancy’s Green Swamp Preserve, located 20 miles east of Wilmington, NC, protects more than 17,000 acres of diverse wetland habitats. This nationally significant natural area contains five wetland types: wet pine savanna, pocosin, bay forest wetland, Atlantic white cedar forest, and freshwater marsh. Though famous for its populations of carnivorous plants, the Green Swamp is also important as habitat for many rare species of plants and animals, a research resource for scientists, and carbon sequestration because of its large size.

Biodiversity

Green Swamp supports a number of fire-adapted species. The site also supports populations of numerous rare species, including 21 species of orchids and 17 species of carnivorous plants.

Climate Regulation

Green Swamp also helps to offset carbon emission by storing large quantities of carbon. This carbon is stored in canopy of longleaf and pond pines and dense shrubs found in the pocosin wetlands. Carbon is also accumulated and stored in the carbon-rich soil called peat in the pocosin wetlands.

Research and Education

Research is being conducted and efforts are underway to restore Longleaf Pine Savanna that once dominated the area. Green Swamp is also open daily to the public. The nature trail is about a three-mile hike round-trip. The trail may be accessed at a small parking lot about 5½ miles up N.C. 211 off of U.S. 17 north of Supply.

World Wetlands Day

To many people in the U.S., February 2 is Groundhog Day, but is is also World Wetlands Day. This day marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on February 2, 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar. Since 1997, the Ramsar Secretariat provides outreach materials to help raise public awareness about the importance and value of wetlands.

The 2019 theme is Wetlands and Climate Change.

  • Wetlands play a significant role in stabilizing GHG emissions and blunting the impacts of climate change.
  • Wetlands buffer coastlines from extreme weather.
  • Wetlands reduce floods and relieve droughts Inland wetlands such as flood plains, rivers, lakes and swamps function like sponges, absorbing and storing excess rainfall and reducing flood surges.

  • Wetlands naturally absorb and store carbon. When drained or burned for agriculture (as wetlands often are) they go from being a carbon sink to a carbon source, releasing into the atmosphere centuries of stored carbon. CO2 emissions from drained and burned peatlands equate to 10% of all annual fossil fuel emissions.

  • Wetlands play a significant role in stabilizing GHG emissions and blunting the impacts of climate change.
  • Wetlands buffer coastlines from extreme weather.
  • Wetlands reduce floods and relieve droughts Inland wetlands such as flood plains, rivers, lakes and swamps function like sponges, absorbing and storing excess rainfall and reducing flood surges.
  • Wetlands naturally absorb and store carbon. When drained or burned for agriculture (as wetlands often are) they go from being a carbon sink to a carbon source, releasing into the atmosphere centuries of stored carbon. CO2 emissions from drained and burned peatlands equate to 10% of all annual fossil fuel emissions.
More information at www.worldwetlandsday.org.
 

Trump’s proposed Clean Water Rule is devastating for our wetlands

The EPA has issued a proposed rule (Waters of the US rule) to replace the current federal protections for wetlands and streams. Soon the proposed rule will be publish and the public can submit comments. Then EPA will respond to comments by revising the rule before issue the final version of the rule. (Note, the new rule was announced on February 14. )

Everyone needs to understand the impacts of this rule and speak up to the EPA, legislators, governors, and state agencies. The Carolina Wetlands Association will issue an announcement when the public comment period opens.

Explanation of the new proposed rule

In the new rule, wetland protection is dependent on stream protection. Stream protection will be drastically reduced, covering only perennial streams and some intermittent streams. In order for a wetland to be federally protected, it must directly abutt a jurisdictional stream or be an “adjacent wetland” with continuous surface flow to a jurisdictional stream part of the year. This means all bays, depressional wetlands, isolated wetlands, and floodplain wetlands will lose protection. North Carolina and South Carolina have extensive acreage of these types of wetlands.

The new rule will result in huge losses of our wetlands and streams.

The EPA is asking for comment on particular topics. Nearly all these topics lean toward additional loss of protection. They are asking questions such as:

  • Should we protect only perennial streams (not intermittent)?
  • Should we change the definitions and naming of streams to “seasonal”? (intermittent streams would have to flow at particular times of the year to be protected)
  • Should we protect only streams with a minimum flow? (eliminating protection on some perennial streams)
  • Should the definition of a wetland be changed?
  • Should we set a maximum distance of protection from a jurisdictional stream? (eliminate wetlands further out even if they flow to a protected stream)

The proposed rule is devastating to wetlands, but the final rule will be worse, as indicated by the tone of the EPA’s questions for comment. This EPA is hiding behind the idea of giving jurisdiction to the states if they want to protect these streams and wetlands. They even go so far as to say there may be no real loss of streams and wetlands because states can make up for the lack in protection from the EPA. This is unlikely to happen soon in North and South Carolina, so the new rule will result in huge losses of our wetlands and streams.

What is devastating for our wetlands, will be devastating for us.

Our wetlands do so many things for us – for free! If we lose protections of our wetlands and streams, we will lose the benefits they give us all.

We need to speak up against this proposed rule. Speaking up is an important role of CarWA, especially at this time. We can talk about why these wetlands matter to all people, and why they deserve continued protection.

Some of our Wetland Treasures would not be protected from development under this proposed rule (eg. Lewis Ocean Bay, Antioch Bay, Green Swamp, Hemlock Bluffs vernal pools). North and South Carolina have so much at stake; please plan to make a comment when the time comes and speak to your representatives.

Message from the President

Happy New Year to all of our wetland supporters!  The past year has seen a lot of changes for Carolina Wetlands Association and with that, the new year brings some serious challenges.

First, we are very fortunate to have two new Board members.  Heather Clarkson holds a J.D. degree from the University of South Carolina and works for the Defenders of Wildlife where she is Outreach Representative.  Tara Allden works for Kimley-Horn in Columbia, SC, where she is a Natural Resources Specialist.  Tara deals with aquatic resource mitigation, wetlands delineation, permitting and local governments.  She also has a law degree from the University of South Carolina. Both Heather and Tara strengthen our board with their diverse experience and their SC connections. We want to thank the two departing Board members, John Dorney and Stratford Kay.  John is a founding member of Carolina Wetlands Association and was the Secretary on the Board for three years. Both  John and Stratford continue to serve on committees for Carolina Wetlands Association. We are so thankful for the dedicated service of John and Stratford for playing critical roles in the formation of the organization.

Second, we had our third round of Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas announced in May: Pink Beds, Black River Swamp, Hemlock Bluffs, Lewis Ocean Bay, and Sparkleberry Swamp.  The tours were well attended, and all had a great time. The Wetland Treasures program remains a very successful Program Committee program.  We also participated in events at the Town of Cary’s Arbor day, Reptile and Amphibians Day at the NC Natural Science Museum, and Mud Day at the Walnut Creek Wetlands Park.  We continue to be a significant part of the Wetland Forest Initiative with myself serving as one of three co-chairs of the Steering Committee. Heather Clarkson, Chad Guthrie, and I participate in the Watershed Alliance run by the NC Conservation Network and the Carolina Wetlands Association became affiliated with Wake NaturePerserve.  We are also involved with Albemarle Pamlico National Estuary Partnership’s Wetland Assessment team.

In November we had our first “Wetlands Matter” networking and information event.  We were overwhelmed by the great response to this event with over 100 people in attendance. A special thank you to our keynote speaker, Mr.  Derb Carter of the Southern Environmental Law Center, who talked about proposed changes the Waters of the US (WOTUS) by the US EPA. We ended the year with our annual Giving Campaign – thanks to your generosity we were able to raise over $4,000!

In 2019, we are faced with challenges from both within and outside the organization.  We have set an ambitious goal to raise $40,000 to implement our core competencies and hire a small staff.  We have plans to strengthen our partnership with our Wetland Treasures sites, publish the first State of the Wetlands report for the Carolinas, and host more networking events and tours throughout both states. The other big challenge we all face is the revisions to the Waters of the US rule which threatens over 50% of our wetland resources and many headwater streams. We are preparing a media campaign and working with many other organizations to be sure our wetland and stream resources are protected.  This is a critically important issue and we are counting on you to help with our efforts!

Your Carolina Wetlands Association has a lot going on this year and your help is needed.  Please contact me, one of our board members, or register on our website to be a volunteer.   Lastly, be sure to go out and explore a wetland!

Rick Savage

President

2019 Calendars Now Available

Back by popular demand, we are offering our 2019 wall calendar featuring all 15 Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas. During November and December, everyone who donates $25 or more will receive one calendar.

Donate through PayPal Giving Fund, click here.

or mail cash or check to:

Carolina Wetlands Association
Attn: Chad Gutherie
PO Box 33592
Raleigh, NC 27636

CarWA a 501(c)3 organization. Your donation is tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

Wetlands Matter: Networking and Information Sharing Event

Wednesday, November 28, 2018 from 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM

 

Come learn about the Carolina Wetlands Association and the work the organization is doing to advance the understanding, protection and enjoyment of wetlands throughout North and South Carolina.  Our 2019 calendars featuring our Wetland Treasures, magnets, and t-shirts will be available during the event.

AGENDA 
5:30    Networking Time

6:00    Guest Speaker: Derb Carter, Southern Environmental Law Center 
Mr. Carter will discuss the status of proposed changes the Waters of the U.S. rule and what that means for wetland protection and restoration.

6:30     Overview of the Carolina Wetlands Assocation
Learn about our efforts to get a Ramsar wetland designation in North Carolina, the Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas Program, and our effort to issue a State of the Wetlands report.

7:00    More Networking Time

7:30    Meeting Ends

Food and drinks will be provided!  Please register so we know you are coming.

 

Videos of Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas

A special thank you to Mariana Kneppers, a 2018 graduate from Elon University, who volunteered her time and talents to create these informative videos of some of the Wetland Treasures of the  Carolinas.  Marinana heard about Carolina Wetlands Association at the NC WRRI’s annual meeting in March and approached Rick Savage about how she could help the organization.  We identified social media help was needed and she created these videos in response to that need.  Mariana has moved to California but she will forever support wetlands in the Carolinas!

Please subscribe to our You Tube Channel!