All posts by Kim Matthews

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


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.

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!

Welcome New Board Members

The Carolina Wetlands Association welcomes two new members to the board of directors and one returning member. Please meet Heather Clarkson and Tara Allden who join Chad Gutherie who have started new 3-year terms.

Heather Clarkson

Heather is a native to the lowcountry of South Carolina, where she spent much of her childhood exploring the forested wetlands of Edisto Island and the ACE Basin. Heather’s love of mother nature and all Earth’s children led her to pursue a career in conservation; she attended the University of South Carolina in Columbia for both undergraduate and law school, and focused her studies on wildlife, endangered species, water resource, and coastal management policies. In the summer of 2016, Heather joined Defenders of Wildlife as the Southeast Program Outreach Representative, where she serves as the lead staff member for coastal Carolina issues as well as represents Defenders in the Wetland Forest Initiative. Currently, Heather lives with her husband and their canine children in Durham, NC.

Tara Allden

Tara moved to Columbia, SC in 2014 and works at Kimley-Horne Associates. She is an ecologist and environmental attorney, specializing in developing and implementing compensatory mitigation projects and experienced in wetland delineation and permitting and NEPA documentation. She most recently spent 11 years working as a mitigation banker, assisting in the development of entrepreneurial wetland, stream, and nutrient mitigation banks in North Carolina and beyond. Tara is the current president of the South Carolina Mitigation Association and a member of the S.C. Bar Association’s Regulatory Law and Lawyers’ Wellness committees. Tara was an author on the Transportation Review Board’s publication Legal Aspects of Conservation Easements: A Primer for Transportation Agencies (2013) and Brownfields to Green: A Proposal for Redevelopment of Brownfields Property or Natural Resource Value in The Environmental Law Reporter (2016). Tara lives in Columbia, South Carolina with her husband, Andrew, and daughter, Kathleen.

Chad Gutherie

Chad began his career in conservation in Snohomish County, Washington. As an employee of the County, I worked to protect existing salmon spawning grounds and to restore areas that had been destroyed due to conversion to agricultural use or development. I next worked with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission as conservation and land manager. During my time with the WRC, the WRC acquired over 60,000 acres in wildlife habitat. Most recently, I worked as a Project and Program Manager with the Trust for Public Land. I was lead manager on two of TPL’s initiatives in North Carolina, the Mark’s Creek Initiative and the Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative. Over six years, TPL, in partnership with local conservation groups and governments, protected over 3,000 acres in Wake, Durham, Johnston and surrounding Counties. The preservation of water quality and wetlands was a critical component in the mission of each of these organizations.

We are a 100% volunteer organization with no staff. That means our board often fills many different roles including planning, reviewing policities, volunteering at events, meeting with stakeholders, advocating for wetlands, and raising funds. They donate their time, talents, and resources for teh sustainability and success of the organization.

2018 Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas

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 May, American Wetlands Month.

In celebration of American Wetlands Month, the Carolina Wetlands Association announces its third year of Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas.  (click name to view a factsheet):

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.

Join us to celebrate our wetland treasures by attending one of the five field trips planned this May. The tours are free but donations would be greatly appreciated to support this program. Space is limited for each trip, so register today

We hope to see you in a wetland this spring!

Jessica Tisdale and Stratford Kay
Carolina Wetlands Association

January Message from the President

Dear Wetland Lovers:

The new year is well upon us and we have some new announcements to make.  First, we have four new Board members:  Geoff Gisler, Senior Attorney and Leader of Southern Environmental Law Center’s Clean Water Program; George Matthis, President of River Guardian Foundation; Clint DeWhitt, Environmental Projects Manager for the Kanuga Foundation; and George Howard, CEO of Restoration Systems.  We are excited to have these very talented members join our board and look forward to their contributions to CarWA in the following years.  Be sure to welcome our new Board members!

Second, yours truly (Rick Savage) was re-elected President, and Kim Matthews was elected Vice President.  Kim is a project manager at RTI, International and has been on the Board since CarWA was created.  She is the newsletter editor and Co-Chair of the Development Committee.  Kim has had a tremendous impact on CarWA and truly has been a constant in the organization that everyone can depend on.  Be sure to say congratulations to Kim!

Looking forward to the new year, we have work groups resulting from the Board Retreat that will be working to complete their mission.  The Advocacy work group is working on guidelines and policies to guide CarWA’s involvement in key wetland issues.  The Sustainability work group is developing a plan for consistent funding, staff, and organizational structure.  The Core Competencies work group is defining what programs and areas that CarWA will focus on for the next couple years.  The result of all three work groups will contribute to the development of a strategy plan.  

Finally, our giving campaign was a huge success; thank you so very much, it is our supporters that form the backbone of CarWA.  If you have not contributed, please consider doing so, as we are getting ready for our next wetland treasures program and expanding our wetland tours opportunities.   And we are always looking for more volunteers on our committees and in our various events.

So, let’s make this a great year for wetlands!

Rick Savage

Message from the President: Thank you for a great year!

2017 was a good year for CarWA. We had a successful Wetland Treasures campaign with the tours to all the sitesl.  We also had a tour of a restored wetland and that tour had a waiting list!
We had a Board retreat to assess where the organization is and where it needs to go. It was well attended; and we had several workgroups formed to implement the results of the retreat. The next several board meetings will also work on the results of the retreat.

CarWA was a significant player in the wood pellets forum that was presented in Wilmington in September. Over 100 people attended the forum and got a different perspective on the wood
pellets issue. We also gave several presentations at the NC Museum of Natural Science on wetlands and again participated in Reptile and Amphibian day. We were participants in the Mud Day at the Walnut Creek Wetland Park. And speaking of the Walnut Creek Wetland Park, we had two participants from CarWA as part of a citizens planning committee for the design of the “Park” at the Walnut Creek Wetland Park and wrote part of the master plan! Other events were attended to promote wetlands and the work of CarWA such as Arbor Day in Cary and Think Blue in Durham.

CarWA is also on the steering committee of the Wetland Forest Initiative with 20+ other conservation organizations that will cover 14 southeastern states. This initiative is gaining momentum and is working on its strategy plan, with is a major work item for CarWA in 2018! We also have four new Board members: Geoff Gisler, George Howard, George Matthis, and Clitt DeWhitt. Be sure to welcome them as they take on the challenges facing CarWA.

For 2018, we have another set of Wetland Treasure to announce. The tours to these sites will involve a huge effort from a lot of people and our Program Committee will be leading our Treasure
work. We plan to have at least a couple additional wetland tours this year so stay tuned. Also for 2018, we will continue a youth movement that was started in 2017 with a 14-year-old from
Enloe High School. This will involve partnering with the NC Wildlife Federation and the Walnut Creek Wetland Park. And there will be many other events we will need to attend and continue to spread the word about the value of wetlands and the work of CarWA. The results of the Board retreat will continue to be a major focus in the next year.

While there are many other work items and events for the coming year, one of the most frequent comments about the organization is the need for a staff and sustainable funding! Which our Giving  Campaign is a crucial step in that direction. If you have not contributed to CarWA during this campaign, please do so! We really need everyone to participate in this effort and provide financial support for CarWA’s work! A $25 donation will get you a magnetic bumper sticker with the CarWA logo!

Finally, I want to thank all of our volunteers who have given time beyond their normal duties to make CarWA successful. You are all wonderful and thank you for your efforts to keep CarWA working. And to all our supporters, have a wonderful and safe Holiday and enjoy your time with family and Friends.

Rick Savage, CarWA President

Ecosystem Restoration Tour

Tour Details
Come take a walk in the woods with some of the greatest wetland experts in the Triangle! Carolina Wetlands Association wants you to come out and learn about how created wetlands work for the health of our landscapes and larger ecosystems.
Dr. Curt Richardson, Director of Duke University Wetland Center, will be leading a two hour walking tour through the Duke University’s Stream and Wetland Assessment Managment Park (SWAMP). Please bring water, snacks, sturdy walking shoes and other items to make your tour pleasurable.

When: Saturday, November 11, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM EST

Parking/Meeting Location
Please park in the Al Buehler Trail parking lot on the south side of NC-751 between Science Drive and Duke University Road. The lot will be available starting at 9:30 am on Saturday morning. There will probably be a sign at the entrance saying the lot is reserved for Duke basketball parking only, but the attendant will be expecting the CarWA tour group.

Each car must display a parking permit, which will be provided as a pdf after individuals are registered for the event. Drivers should print one out in advance and display it on their dashboards.
We look forward to seeing you,
Carolina Wetlands Program Committee

Click here to register