All posts by Kim Matthews

Happy 1-year Anniversary to the Carolina Wetlands Association!

It’s hard to believe that it was only last June that we had the first meeting of the Association and our board members were elected!  Thank to everyone who has volunteered at an event, participated in a committee and became a supporter!

Here is a list of just some of the things we accomplished:

  • Developed a mission statement and vision
  • Developed and approved our by-laws
  • Develop our logo
  • Launched a web site and pages on Facebook and LinkedIn
  • Raised over $2000 in funding
  • Successfully received our 501(3)(c) designation from the federal government – all donations are now tax-free
  • Participated in the NC Museum of Natural Sciences on Science Saturday
  • Sponsored a both at the NC Museum of Natural Science Reptile and Amphibian Day
  • Participated in Earth Day and Arbor Day celebrations in Cary, NC
  • Sponsored a table at the NC Arboretum in Chapel Hill
  • Developed our Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas and recognized five special wetlands
  • Sponsored field trip to two of our wetland treasures

Mason Farm Field Tour

When:  Saturday, November 5th, 1:00 – 3:00 PM (rain date: Sunday, Nov. 5 at 12 noon)
Where: NC Botanical Gardens in Orange County, NC —directions here

Description: Tour two valuable wetland areas—Big Oak Woods and Morgan Creek Floodplain Forest—that are part of the NC Botanical Garden’s Mason Farm Biological Reserve. Big Oak Woods is one of the largest tracts of mature bottomland swamp forest remaining in the Piedmont, with some trees exceeding 300 years of age. Morgan Creek Floodplain Forest is part of one of the largest, most intact tracts of Piedmont swamp forest remaining. Field trip will be led by the wonderful Johnny Randall, Director of Conservation Programs at the Botanical Gardens.

Registration required; to reserve a spot, email Laura England (laura.england@carolinawetlands.org).

Note: Mason Farm is open to the public for free, but contributions to Mason Farm can be made through www.ncbg.unc.edu (which provides all their management funds).

Learn more about Mason Farm, CarWA Wetland Treasure Site.

Wetland Photo Contest

See YOUR Photo in our 2017 Wetland Calendar!

We are inviting submissions for our 2017 wetland calandar, which will be available for sale in October.  If your photo is selected, you get a FREE CALENDAR!

We are looking for reasonably high-resolution photos of landscapes, close-ups, plants, animals, water…anything related to wetlands.

Deadline for submission: Extended until September 30!

Location: Limited to North and South Carolina

Each person is limited to submitted 12 photos.

Send your photos, along with the location of the photo, and your thoughts about your photo to:

Kirstie: Kristie.gianopulos@carolinawetlands.org Kim: Kim.matthews@carolinawetlands.org

Order your CarWA T-shirts

Show your support and enthusiasm for the Carolina Wetlands Association by ordering a t-shirt!

Color: Lime green

Size: Adult (unisex)

Cost: $15 ($17.50 for 2XL and 3XL) (plus $5 shipping per order to mail the shirt directly to you)

Payment Option: Paypal or Check

Pre-order deadline: July 31, 2016

Front pocket of shirt:

Logo Carolina Wetlands Association

Back of Shirt:

…because wetlands matter!

 

To order a shirt, contact kim.matthews@carolinawetlands.org.

Indicate the quantity and size (S, M, L, XL, XXL, or XXXL) of shirts you want to order.  If you are located in the Raleigh-Durham area or near one of our Board members, you may not need to pay for shipping.

Year in Review

by Rick Savage, CarWA President

The Carolina Wetlands Association was a year old on June 18, 2016 and CarWA got two big birthday presents:  A fun annual meeting on June 26 and a letter from the IRS acknowledging that the Carolina Wetlands Association is a 501(c)(3) charitable, educational and scientific nonprofit organization.

So what is the state of the Carolina Wetlands Association after one year?  Amazing accomplishments with amazing people is the only way I can think of describing it succinctly.

First, our Program Committee lead by Amin Davis, and with Laura England, started the Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas project.  The wetlands were selected by the Committee in consultation with experts from the Natural Heritage programs in North and South Carolina. Significant help was received from Michael Schafale, Alison Weakley, and Alvin Braswell.  Many volunteer hours were put in by Laura and Amin to make this project happen!  In May, 2016, National Wetlands Month, our Wetland Treasures were announced: Francis Beidler Forest in Harleyville, SC; Phelps Lake in Washington County, NC; Mason Farm in Orange County, NC; Antioch Bay in Hoke County, NC; and Green Swamp in Brunswick County, NC.   Stratford Kay and the rest of the Program Committee also developed a general brochure which has been used at several events to publicize CarWA.  The committee’s Museum Task Force worked with the NC Natural Science Museum and CarWA has presented on wetlands research in NC and the starting of CarWA.  Alvin Braswell, Stratford Kay, Grace Lawrence, and Amin Davis have led this effort and will continue to do so as several more presentations are being planned.

The Science Committee, co-chaired by Ginny Baker Daniel and Robert Truesdale, have developed Wetlands 101 for the website. This information explains wetlands, why they are important, and the different types of wetlands is the Carolinas.  Heather Pattie, Katie Luciano, Amy James, and Ginny have led this effort.  The Science Committee is also investigating citizen science possibilities and cataloging wetlands research being conducted in NC and SC. CarWA has also been in communication with the Triangle Greenways Council and the Science Committee will lead efforts to survey some of their sites for wetlands.

The Regional Coordinators Stakeholder Engagement Committee has had one meeting and are planning a second one soon.  This committee will be important to coordinate activities to across both states, and to understand regional/local wetland issues, and to identify regional/local conservation/environmental organization that we can partner with.  They will also be creating a database of wetland land owners that we may work with in help manage their wetland.  This committee is being led by Carrie Caviness and Lindsey Smart.

The Policy Committee, led by Steve Rebach and John Dorney, is also just getting started.  This committee is tracking federal, state and local legislation related to wetlands and will focus on educating legislators about the importance of wetlands.

The Advisory Committee, led by Grace Lawrence and Lundie Spence, assists the Board of Directors with special tasks and gives advice and comments on Board actions.  This committee recently recommended that CarWA develop a business plan to help guide the organization into the next few years.

The Development Committee, let by Kim Matthews and Rick Savage, have worked to maintain the CarWA web site and Facebook page.  Kim has done a masterful job taking the major responsibility of handling this work and especially making our newsletter a success.  More than 200 people are on our email distribution list and they have heard about us through various media.  There was an article in the Cape Fear’s Going Green about CarWA and our wetlands treasures project.  We also have 200 people following us on Facebookincluding several devoted followers from Europe.

Lastly, The Finance Committee, led by Kristie Gianopulos, had done a good job establishing our bank account and managing carefully managing our limited funds this first year. With our new nonprofit status and the hopeful awarding of grants, this committee will be playing major role on tracking expenditure and determining how the money is to be used!  There is a Grants Task Force, led by Steve Rebach and John Dorney and assisted by Amy James, Chad Guthrie, Carrie Caviness, Amin Davis, and Kristie.  They are exploring government and non-government grant opportunities.

I want to thank Board of Directors officers for all they have done: Vice President, Steve Rebach; Secretary, John Dorney; and Treasurer, Kristie Gianopulos.  John’s minutes are very thorough and are available on ourwebsite.   Steve has written a narrative about CarWA to be used with grant applications.  Kristie had taken very good care of our money, and has been our unofficial graphic designer. She developed our logo, designed posters used at public events, and designed our new t-shirts!  I also want to welcome Kristine Cherry, our newest board member, who has vast experience in running a nonprofit and promises to give SC another major voice in CarWA.

The structure and foundation of CarWA is sound and in good hands and the leadership is in place to evolve the organization into a sustainable and vibrant future.  So given our accomplishments, what is next?

The first item is that we must have plans for our future.  The Development Committee has started a Marketing Plan and launched a successful fund raising campaign to raise $850 necessary for our 501(c)(3) application.  The marketing plan needs to be refined to help spread CarWA’s message in all areas of media.  We are in need of a Public Information person to help with these efforts. If you have any of that experience, please consider volunteering!

The second (and third) items are the development of a Business Plan and a Strategic Plan.  They may be separate documents or they may be combined.  We will start the process with 2-3 Board members drafting the plan and then the rest of the Board will review and provide comments!  We will discuss this item at our next Board meeting later this month.

The fourth item is creating informal partnerships with other organizations such that we can help each other with common issues.  We have become an affiliate with the NC Conservation Network and we have been invited to become an affiliate with the NC Wildlife Federation.    We are also considering becoming affiliated with the SC Wildlife Federation and SC Conservation Coalition.

We have committed to close partnerships with The Triangle Greenways Council (NC) and the River Guardian Foundation especially on future grant opportunities.  And we are talking with the NC Natural Science Museum about doing presentations and exhibits on wetlands.  More recently, the Spruill Farms (NC) expressed interest in becoming an affiliate of CarWA.  They also would like us to do a site visit and inventory of their wetlands. These relationships promise to be beneficial as we are being recognized as having the best pool of wetland talent, both in science and policy, and our expertise is being sought.

We also have been in contact with other organizations including the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club, the NC Coastal Federation, the Town of Cary (NC), and the Walnut Creek Wetlands Center (Raleigh, NC).  What we need to do is develop more of these relationships with communities, organizations, and museums throughout the Carolinas.  I encourage everyone (especially those outside of the Triangle Area) to work with the Regional Coordinators Committee to establish these kinds of relationships.

The fifth item is to develop a relationship with Duke University to allow students to do projects for CarWA. Project ideas include how to communicate our message to legislators, landowners and others on the values of wetlands and who benefits from wetlands by conducting a social network analysis or using survey tools.  We also expect that students could help with wetland site assessments.

Eventually, the Carolina Wetlands Association must obtain grants, carry out projects to further our mission, and potentially have a paid staff.  We will be encouraging the use of wetland science to influence wetland policy and management practices to local and state officials and to landowners and communities who depend on their wetland resources.  Our supporters and dedicated volunteers have made the organization what is it and what it will be.  Please continue to show your support and volunteer your time by serving on a committee or helping with a special event or program.  Volunteers are critical to the success of this organization and we definitely need more participation so we can do more!

Thanks to you all for all you do!

Show your support for Living Shorelines

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is accepting public comment on new nationwide permits including a new permit to for “living shorelines”. Pew Charitable Trust states that a “living shoreline offers a proven and durable bank stabilization alternative to hard infrastructure—such as bulkheads and seawalls—while conserving the natural coastal habitat of fish and marine life, shorebirds, and plants.” The new nationwide permit will streamline the process to get living shorelines projects approved. Click here to submit your comment to the Federal Registrar in support of this permit.

  • Information on the nationalwide permits can be found here.
  • An article on the benefits of living shorelines and the proposed permit process can be found here.

    A Living Shoreline replaced a failing bulkhead at the N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission’s Edenhouse boat ramp on the Chowan River. (NC Coastal Federation)

President’s Blog – ASWM Update

I attended the 2016 Association of State Wetlands Managers workshop in Shepardstown, WV.  As are most of these workshops, this one was as good an any.  However, my focus this time was on what could I gleam useful for the Carolina Wetland Association.  There were several very import aspects of this:  the networking, relationships, and potential partnerships; and the presentations.

The very first person I saw was Erin O’Brien, the Policy Directory for the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, our mentor organization.  We greeted each other like old friends.  She is very excited about CarWA and very impressed about our progress in such a short time.  I had lunch with her and Ester Lev the Executive Director of the Oregon Wetland Conservancy.  It was a great meeting as they had lots of advice about some of my ideas and the partnerships I have been working on.  They both felt that CarWA was going in the right direction with establishing partnerships, but suggested not to go to fast with firm relationships until we get our feet firmly planted.  I do agree with that advice and most of the partnerships are to get know each other and to explore areas of common interest and establish the ground work for future collaboration.

I also had great conversations with Mary Kentula and Gregg Serenbetz of the EPA and they were also very excited about CarWA.  I also talked quite a bit with Michael McDavit (EPA supervisor, Wetlands Division) about CarWA and how the role of such organization are becoming vital as government programs are being limited by their administrations.  He also confirmed that he wants CarWA to host a session this Fall on presenting the results of the National Wetlands Condition Assessment .  This event will help promote CarWA to a regional audience.   I also talked with Rebecca DiIls and Myra Price both of the EPA, about potential grant opportunities and. In order to be eligible for these national grants, we need to propose a project that for more multiple regions.  I have plenty of ideas about other organizations to partner with and Erin O’Brien said the Wisconsin Wetlands Association would love work with us on a joint proposal.  And according to the EPA, we do not have to have our 501(c)(3) status to apply.

Jo Ann Mills, who is retired from the US FWS (and is from Apex, NC, originally), introduced herself to me and she was excited about CarWA.  She introduced me to Shereen Hughes of Wetland Watch, a nonprofit from Norfolk, VA.  Wetland Watch is interested in the impacts from sea level rise which is of course a very serious concern. Shereen felt that we could form a serious partnership and work on projects together on a larger scale than they were currently doing.   We will talk more about this at the board meeting in May.

Finally, I met Katie Gronsky of Kearns & West, who is doing some work with the EPA on communication of science and policy to different audiences.    I told her about the Duke project I was working on getting started to help us with communicating wetland values to the general public and local and state decision makers.  She will be sharing some information they are producing for the EPA and would like to potentially participate in the Duke effort.

I will discuss these and opportunities at our next Board of Directors meeting on May 16!

Rick Savage

President of the Carolina Wetlands Association

2016 Wetland Treasures Announced

CarWA is thrilled to recognize and celebrate our inaugural class of Wetland Treasures sites! Click the links below to open a fact sheet and learn about the ecology, significance, flora and fauna, and more for each site:

Join us for one of our field trips in May. Click here for more information.

 

Photo Credit: Skip Pudney (Green Swamp; Brunswick County, NC)

INFLUENCES OF BEAVER ON FORESTED COMMUNITIES IN THE SOUTHEASTERN U.S.

Written by Dr. Carrie DeJaco

Prior to European colonization of North America, beaver (Castor canadensis) were abundant throughout most of the continent.  Estimates of pre-colonization beaver populations are between 60 million and 200 million individuals, with at least 20 million beaver-built dams.   By the year 1900, beaver had been extirpated from the eastern half of North America and the species was hanging on by small remnant populations in the west.

Reintroductions of beaver had begun in the southeastern U.S. by the 1940s.  With few predators and laws regulating hunting, beaver populations in North American have rebounded. By 1983, beaver were present in 80 of 100 counties in North Carolina but were still largely absent from the Broad, French Broad, Catawba, and Pasquotank river basins—mainly the Charlotte area and the region directly to the west and north of it.

The majority of studies on beaver in North America have been conducted in the northern states and Canada.  Larger scale effects found by these studies may be applicable here in the south, but many of the species-specific observations are irrelevant due to the difference in plant species between the northern and southern latitudes.  This review of the literature on the impacts of beaver includes the handful of studies conducted in the southeastern U.S.; larger scale patterns observed at northern latitudes will also be discussed, but species-level observations from northern studies will only be included if they are relevant to the southeastern U.S..

Click here to read the entire article.

Beaver dam, Franklin Co, ALB photo
Beaver Dam (Franklin County, NC) Photo by Alvin Braswell

Photo by Alvin Braswell

Beaver Lodge (Franklin County, NC) Photo by Alvin Braswell

Ephemeral Ponds: Important Habitat for reptiles and amphibians

By Alvin Braswell, written for use by the volunteers at Reptile and Amphibians day at the Natural Science Museum

We haveAmbystoma maculatum, Wake Co, ALB12375 a Spotted Salamander and egg masses, an Eastern Mud Turtle, and an American Toad or Spring Peepers as examples of species that breed in or otherwise use ephemeral ponds.

 

Definition:  Ephemeral ponds are aquatic sites that do not hold water all year – during normal rainfall years.  They can range in size from small puddles to over a hundred acres.  Ephemeral ponds have been a part of the landscape of North Carolina for many thousands of years, and whole communities of plants and animals have evolved to depend on them.  The drying out phase is critical to the productivity of these ponds.

A goal of the research and management communities is to document the occurrence of ephemeral wetlands and the species that depend on them so the natural heritage of North Carolina can be conserved through responsible resource management, the public can learn about and enjoy these resources, public health will be enhanced through a healthy environment, and the species involved will be assured continued existence with healthy populations. To that end it is desirable to discover the identity, document the range, and record the biology of every species of amphibian and reptile associated with ephemeral wetland communities in North Carolina.

IPseudemys rubriventris, Columbia FWS boardwalk, ALB 2015-45nitial studies of ephemeral pond breeding amphibians were started because they were understudied and because it was exciting to find so many amphibians in one place during a breeding episode.  Frog choruses could be deafening and dozens of salamanders, either difficult or impossible to find otherwise, could be present.

In the 1970’s, interest in rare species became a focal point at the state and national level.  Ephemeral pond communities clearly were much reduced due to a variety of human activities, and the need to document what was left was clear.

Examples of losses include:  Clay-based Carolina Bays (in a natural functional state) have been reduced by about 95%; sinkhole ponds in coastal counties have been filled, trashed, drained, abused by off-road vehicles, and altered in a variety of other ways; virtually all upland ephemeral ponds in the Piedmont have been drained; and floodplain pools suffer from exaggerated flooding due to hard surface runoff.  The list of what has happened and is still happening to these habitats and the species they support goes on and on.  However, loss of ephemeral ponds to the plant and animal species that depend on them probably is not due to animosity toward frogs or salamanders, or other plant and animal species (with the exception of the mosquito).  Many losses have occurred through ditching to make fertile soils available for agriculture or silvaculture.

InforBufo fowleri, calling, Wake Co, ALB11857mation gathered from various agencies’ and institutions’ studies has contributed to a much better understanding of the status of ephemeral pond breeding species and the communities they are a part of.  Permanent documentation of populations is done with voucher specimens, scientific publications, and archived files.  Determining the identity of species and genetic variation throughout their ranges is an ongoing process that requires coordinated efforts with researchers at other institutions.  The natural history information gathered is not only used to advance science, but also to promote conservation through better informed environmental management and a wide variety of educational programs.

Research projects can be strictly carried out by professional scientists; however, a growing number of are geared to involve the public through “Citizen Science” initiatives.  Frog call surveys are just one example.