All posts by Kim Matthews

October – Message From The President

Hello Wetland Supporters:

There is a lot going on with the Association.  First, we are looking for nominations for our 2020 class of Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas.   If you have some nomination you want to make, please contact Jessica (jessica.tisdale@carolinawetlands.org)  or Jim ( jim.merchant@carolinawetlands.org).  We would like some good suggestions from both Carolinas.  

We are also working on our workshop to educate local decision makers on the value of wetlands, their place in nature-based solutions and how they can help build community resiliency.  To help with effort, Kim Matthews, Chad Guthrie and myself participated in an online NOAA workshop on “Risk Communication”. We developed a risk communication strategy as part of the workshop and this will help us think about our audience, their concerns and how we can best communicate risk.  I also attended a nature-based solutions workshop conducted by NOAA in Mt. Pleasant, SC and the materials from this workshop are excellent and will also help with our workshop development. I talked with the NOAA trainers and they not only want us to use their materials, but they are willing to help us develop the workshop.  Currently, we have a good outline for the workshop and much of the content. We will be developing our first draft of the workshop to present at the NC Coastal Conference in November.

Heather Clarkson, Kim Matthews, and I have worked on the
Natural and Working Lands stakeholder group to develop recommendations to restore forests and wetlands to sequester carbon.  A large meeting was held at RTI where the six subgroups (Pocosin Restoration, Coastal Habitats, Farm Systems, Floodplain and Riparian Wetlands, Forests, and Urban Lands) presented their recommendations.  It was a two-day event and the results will be reworked based on the feedback. From there, the recommendations will be documented and become part of the Risk Assessment and Resiliency Plan put out by Governor Cooper.

A Wetlands Summit was held at the JC Raulston Arboretum at the end of September conducted by NC State University.  Kristie Gianopulos, Kim Matthews and I was part of the Planning effort with Dr. Mike Burchell and Amanda Mueller. It was to close out the wetland monitoring grant that Dr. Burchell oversaw and to open discussion of the Volunteer Wetlands Monitoring Grant (NC State, RTI, and Carolina Wetlands).  The summit also discussed the state of wetlands research and monitoring and talked about future direction. The Carolina Wetlands Association will play a significant role in help to maintain a wetlands research and monitoring community and listing research on our web page to help further knowledge and collaboration among wetlands researchers and practitioners.

As always, we have a lot going on and we are always in need of your support.  Please consider donating to our efforts (time and or money) as the Association continues to play significant roles in supporting our wetland.

Thanks all and go explore a wetland,

Rick

NC Wetlands Summit

The North Carolian Wetlands Summit was held at the North Carolian State Univeristy Arboretum in Raleigh, NC on September 25-26 with attendees from state and federal government, universities, non-profit organizations, and tribes.

The purpose of this meeting were to convene a community of wetland resource protection experts across North Carolina to learn about current research and monitoring in the state and evaluate future needs for research, monitoring, and education. The main outcome is the beginning of a strategy for a more integrated approach to wetlands protection across the state.

Meeting Materials

List of participants

Agenda

September: Message From the President

Message from the President

While not a Category 5 when Dorian reached the Carolinas, there was still plenty of flooding and wind damage from Dorian and the tornados it produced.  Please keep our coastal friends in mind as they recover from this significant event. We need our wetlands now more than ever given the frequency and intensity of such storm events.

I want to tell you about two new and significant projects that the Carolina Wetlands Association is starting.  First, we are partnering with North Carolina State University (Drs. Mike Burchell and Natalie Nelson) and RTI International (Kim Mathews) to establish a “volunteer wetlands monitoring program” at our wetland treasures sites.  This project is funded by EPA Region 4 Wetland Program Development Grant. Work on this grant will start later this year.

The second project we are working on is developing a workshop to educate local decision makers about wetland values and how they can be as nature-based solutions to benefit communities.  I have met with staff from North Carolina’s Office of Resiliency and Recovery about partnering with them on the workshop. Work is ongoing to develop the workshop and various supporting materials (e.g., tools, case studies) and we hope to test the workshop at the NC Coastal Conference in November.

More than ever, Carolina Wetlands Associations needs volunteers to help with these projects and to provide financial support. Please let me know if you are interested in helping with either of these projects.  A financial donation would be very important to consider at this time to help us in our success with building the organizational infrastructure we need to run these projects.

Thanks all, now go out and explore a wetland.

Rick

May: Message from the PResident

Wetland Supporters:

May is American Wetland Month, so I hope you all are celebrating our wetlands and the value they bring to us all.  We have had two of our Wetland Treasure tours, Woods Bay and Santee Coastal Preserve, both in SC, and they were a lot of fun.  Thanks to everyone who participated. The tours were very informative and attendees learned a lot about our wetlands. We have three more tours to go so be sure to check them out; there is open space for the tours at Croatan National Forest and Merchants Mill Pond.

Also during American Wetland Month, we hope you will remember your organization.  We are completing our 3-year Strategic Plan and will be taking steps to implement the plan.  We will make it available publicly once the Board approves it in July. In order to implement the plan, we will need much more funding and people resources and that is where you come into play.  Please consider making a donation to the organization during American Wetlands Month, both financially and time! Let us hear from you.

Now go out and explore a wetland!

Rick

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.