Category Archives: News

VWMP Completes Third Round of Wetland Monitoring

The September monitoring outings for the Volunteer Wetlands Monitoring Program (VWMP) were a great success. Seven program veteran volunteers as well as two new volunteers joined us over the weekend. We were concerned about the forecast for this outdoor field work but we were very lucky to only have some light rain on day one and the threat of potential thunderstorms on day two never materialized, thankfully.

Volunteer Tom Schwarcz earns his Carolina Wetlands Association cap for volunteering over 25 hours to the VWMP.

Water Monitoring

Our monitoring outings at each site this time out was kicked off with water monitoring working with our NC State University water team headed up by Dr. Mike Burchell and graduate student, Molly Landon.

We observed that even with some recent heavy rainfall, the hot and dry summer left some of our wetland sites without any standing water to sample. Water samples and well data were taken by our now very skillful volunteers and we are starting to see how this type of activity might be scaled if this program is expanded in the future.

Dr Mike Burchell, Mattie Frazier and Megan Dunn take the new YSI meter out for it's maiden voyage.

Plant Communities

Once a year we are tasked with filling out surveys on the plant communities and the invasive non-native plant species we’re finding in our study areas.

Amanda Johnson works with volunteers on assessing the plant communities at Mason Farm.

Plant communities are groups of plants sharing a common environment that interact with each other, animal populations, and the physical environment. This helps us understand the bigger picture of the health of the wetlands we’re studying. We used Wildnote to log this information and look forward to sharing this data in the near future.

Invasive Species Mapping

We also recorded plant life in our study wetlands that are non-native, invasive species. Invasive plant species spread quickly and can displace native plants, prevent native plant growth, and create monocultures.

Ace, Chase and Mickey Jo record non-native plant in the area around the marsh at Mason Farm.

The participants in the VWMP do not remove those plants since they are part of our study area. However, it’s a common activity for organizations and volunteers to strategically remove these plants to restore a natural environment back to healthy and diverse native plant communities.

Wildlife Observations

We did not perform an amphibian survey As part of this quarter’s monitoring this time out but we did record sightings of the wildlife we saw in iNaturalist in the VWMP Project.

We found several frogs, a male box turtle and a Green Heron watched over us as we worked at the Mason Farm marsh. Even though not officially in one of our study sites, pictured is our siting of one of North Carolina’s most feared but beautiful snakes, the copperhead.

You can see all of our observations by clicking HERE.

A copperhead sits still for our photos just outside of our monitoring area.

Check out the Facebook posts HERE and HERE about this event.

Visit the Volunteer Resource Page for more information on the Volunteer Wetland Monitoring Program.

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.

Rick

August Message from the Executive Director

Greeting Wetland Supporters:

As I write this message, I am in the new office of the Carolina Wetlands Association.  It is critical advancement to our organizational growth and maturity. Located in downtown Cary, NC, the office gives me, our two contractor employees, and others a place to work and meet.  Many of our active volunteers have also taken advantage of this space to meet and to work on committee business.  The office is big enough for three people work comfortably.  And we have had three of us working in the office several times, especially when it is time to work on grants.

Carolina Wetlands Association Office

We have access to a 25-person conference room which we used to host our July Board meeting. The first time we were able to meet in person since January 2020! The conference room is available to host committee and project meetings as well as meet with our partners.  The Volunteer Wetland Monitoring Program will be meeting later in August.

There is also a “breakout work area” with a table and seats up to eight people when we just need some extra space to work and not have to schedule the conference room.  There is also a small balcony area with two small tables to work and meet when the weather is nice (definitely not in this heat however!).

Conference Room
Balcony Meeting Space

This addition of office and meeting space for the Association now allows us to have a real physical address.  We can store our belongings such as our event materials (posters, kid’s activities, brochures, etc.), a donated laptop, a printer, and books on wetlands, freshwater ecology, climate change, nonprofits. (Note: the books are available for borrowing – just let me know).

It is with your support we continue to grow and advocate for the importance of wetlands and their many ecosystem services.  So come by and visit, the physical address of the Carolina Wetlands Association is:  201 W. Chatham St., Suite 219, Cary, NC 27511.  We will be most happy to see you

Cary Innovation Center

After you visit the office, go explore the wetlands in and around Cary, you will be glad you did.  Thanks for your continued support.

Rick Savage, Executive Director

VWMP Volunteers Visit the Walnut Creek Wetland Center in Raleigh to Learn About Assessing Wetland Quality

– Amanda Johnson & Patty Cervenka

For our July activity for the VWMP, Project Manager, Amanda Johnson demonstrated how the NC WAM can be used to evaluate the condition of a wetland. 

The group gathers for a review of the objectives for the day - Photo Credit - Kathleen Schwarcz

This volunteer activity included a review of the NC WAM manual, preliminary desktop analysis, and a visit to the Walnut Creek Wetland Center in Raleigh, NC on the morning of July 23, 2022.

Practicing the NCWAM at the Walnut Creek Wetland

The NC WAM is a field method that can be used to determine the level of function of a wetland relative to the reference condition (where appropriate) for each of 16 NC wetland types.

To complete the NC WAM assessment form that will generate function ratings and an overall wetland rating, a desktop analysis and field assessment is required.

NC WAM Manual

To use the NC WAM in any official capacity, one must go through the training class (3 days of training and an exam) to become certified as trained.  This activity was for demonstration and research purposes. The latest version of the NC WAM manual can be found here: NCWAM Manual | NC DEQ.

Objectives

The objectives of this volunteer activity were to:

Volunteers Kathleen and Tom

 

  • Become familiar with the purpose of NC WAM and how it may be used
  • Practice using the NC WAM assessment form
  • Develop an understanding of what factors may affect the condition and health of a wetland

We are looking forward to the upcoming VWMP activities including a visit to the new Carolina Wetlands Association office to review some of the data we have collected so far and our wetland monitoring site visits in September. For more information on the pilot Volunteer Wetland Monitoring Program, visit the VWMP Webpage

Image Gallery:

Op Ed: Environmental Justice in Rochester Heights, North Carolina

Written by Bella Teza

Why is environmental racism still plaguing our society? After World War II, a housing boom stormed the country, and many cities, including the city of Raleigh, North Carolina, began to develop new housing communities. As predominately white neighborhoods began to develop north of the downtown center of Raleigh, predominately minority and low-income communities were being developed south of the city (Elia-Warnken, 2020). Increased segregation began to grow within the city, and predominately white neighborhoods prospered with easy access to downtown Raleigh and natural features, such as streams and parks.

On the other hand, predominately minority communities were not given these benefits, and housing contracts made it virtually impossible for residents to leave the community. The Rochester Heights neighborhood, consisting of mainly African American residents, was developed in the late 1950s and was placed directly on the floodplain of the Walnut Creek Watershed (Little, 2012). Since Hurricane Fran in 1996, residents have faced the negative impacts of this floodplain, as reoccurring damage to homes and community centers continues as a result of this community’s misplacement.

The rich history of this community and its placement begs the question of the interests and intentions of local officials, as well as environmental justice and equity.

As time has passed, many have begun to seek solutions to this problem that plagues the Rochester Heights community. In addition to flooding, NC State’s Dr. Louie Rivers explains that within most of these predominately African American communities in the Raleigh area lies PCB-laced soil (NCSU, 2021). This contaminated soil is the result an illegal toxic dump and puts an increased burden on these communities.

Rochester Heights, Raleigh NC (tclf.org)

As the problems that infect this community are considered, institutions, including North Carolina State University, are taking steps to aid this community in combating the environmental injustices that it has faced for many years. American Rivers initially funded a study to survey residents of the Rochester Heights neighborhood and discovered that flooding was the community’s top frustration (NSCU Staff, 2019).

In a response to this ongoing community outreach, the St. Ambrose Episcopal Church, an important center for the community, hosted one of the first green infrastructure projects (Klahre, 2019). The goal of this project was to both create a rain garden that slows runoff while flooding, and filter the pollutants brought in with the water.

In addition to projects hosted by the community itself, restoration of environmental justice in the community has obtained a strong backing by the city of Raleigh.

In the past, the wetlands that existed south to the Rochester Heights neighborhood were neglected and undeveloped; the city of Raleigh even used the land to dump sewage (Klahre, 2019). In the mid-1990s, a group known as Partners for Environmental Justice led an initiative that conducted the creation of the Walnut Creek Wetland Park. In 1998, the group was given a $16,000 grant by the Triangle Community Foundation to fund a cleanup of the wetlands, and lead initiatives to alleviate flooding in the Rochester Heights area (Klahre, 2019). The park was gifted a ten-million-dollar bond for its development, commissioned by the city as reparations for years of environmental degradation (McLeod, 2022).

The mission of this community center is to "make people aware of the importance of wetlands for clean water, habitat, and recreation while emphasizing the importance of human interaction with nature."

As the park flourished, initiatives within the neighborhood itself grew tremendously. Ross Andrews, the wetland center’s first director, began the Neighborhood Ecology Corps, a program used to help neighborhood middle schoolers engage with the environment. The program utilizes grants from the city to work on service projects, such as cleaning up streams and removing invasive species (Klahre, 2019).

The neighborhood is slowly being incorporated into the park itself, and to this day at least two community wide cleanups happen each year. As the creek is continually being restored, pollution in the area has decreased, and development upstream in recent years has offset the water that flows towards Rochester Heights.

The story of the Rochester Heights neighborhood and its restoration is a prime example of environmental injustices that occur each day throughout the country. Low-income and minority groups continuously fall victim to unequal housing developments. Throughout the country, neighborhoods such as these are placed near toxic waste facilities, factories, and fall victim to unhealthy amounts of pollutants. Why do developers and city planners continue to show blatant displays of environmental racism? The problem itself falls to the racial bias of the country and shows how wealth ultimately determines the health of the nation’s citizens.

What can citizens do to show their voice against environmental racism? People must first education themselves on the matter and investigate instances of injustices that occur within their own cities and communities. It is important to amplify the voices of victims and support local leaders of change. By holding government officials accountable and using the privilege of protesting these instances of environmental injustice, citizens can create real change within their communities.  

Although the restoration of the Rochester Heights community and its surrounding watershed is far from complete, it is important to acknowledge the progress that has occurred surrounding the environmental restoration of this community. The damage that was done to this community by city developers could have been completely avoided. However, environmental injustices and racism is slowly being repaid by the City of Raleigh.

Community members look forward to the future of Rochester Heights, and the development of the beauty of its environmental landscape.

References

Elia-Warnken, Todd. “Rochester Heights & Biltmore Hills.” ArcGIS StoryMaps, Esri, 29 Nov. 2020, https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/c239b23e4f414514b4f65ab6116d023f.

 Klahre, Ayn-Monique. “The Story behind the Walnut Creek Wetland Center.” WALTER Magazine, WALTER Magazine, 1 May 2019, https://waltermagazine.com/explore/walnut-creek-wetland-center/.

Little, Magaret Ruth. “Getting the American Dream for Themselves: Postwar Modern Subdivisions for African Americans in Raleigh, North Carolina.” Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum, vol. 19, no. 1, 2012, p. 73., https://doi.org/10.5749/buildland.19.1.0073. Accessed 20 Feb. 2022.

Maciag, Mike. “Building Homes in Flood Zones: Why Does This Bad Idea Keep Happening?” Governing, Governing, 21 Apr. 2021, https://www.governing.com/archive/gov-flood-zone-floodplain-development-homes-zoning.html.

Mazur, Laurie. “Commentary: The Danger of Development in Flood-Prone Areas …” U.S. News, U.S. News, 8 Oct. 2019, https://www.usnews.com/news/healthiest-communities/articles/2019-10-08/commentary-the-danger-of-development-in-flood-prone-areas.

McAllister, Cameron. “Rochester Heights Resident History.” ArcGIS StoryMaps, Esri, 30 Nov. 2020, https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/35663e5710514076a436e2fa58c3fa12.

McLeod, Cara. “Walnut Creek Wetland Park.” Raleighnc.gov, Raleigh, 4 Feb. 2022, https://raleighnc.gov/places/walnut-creek-wetland-park.

NCSU. “The Walnut Creek Wetland Community Partnership Was Formed by Citizens and Organizations Working in the Community Surrounding the Walnut Creek Wetlands.” Water Resources Research Institute of the UNC System, North Carolina State University, 27 Mar. 2021, https://wrri.ncsu.edu/partnerships/cewm/walnut-creek-wetland-community-project/walnut-creek-watershed-action-plan/.

Staff. “Equitable Resilience: Developing Solutions to Urban Flooding in Raleigh’s Walnut Creek Watershed.” College of Natural Resources News, North Carolina State University, 30 Sept. 2019, https://cnr.ncsu.edu/news/2019/09/equitable-resilience-developing-solutions-to-urban-flooding-in-raleighs-walnut-creek-watershed/.

About the Author

Bella Teza is a Greensboro, NC native and is currently a sophomore at NC State University. She is studying Sustainable Materials and Technology, and hopes to pursue a career in this field as well. Bella is passionate about environmental sustainability and creating a change for future communities and generations.

July Message from Rick

Greetings Wetland Enthusiasts

I thought it might be good to talk a little about the internal workings of the Association. There are two functional areas:  Operations and Governance.  The operations part of the organization is the day-to-day activities and is managed by the Executive Director (me) and includes staff (paid and volunteer), projects (funded and unfunded) and committees. Our paid staff consists of  two independent contractors working on grant-funded projects. Patty Cervenka is the Volunteer Coordinator of the Volunteer Wetland Monitoring Program and Marilyn Mayer is the Project Coordinator of the Stony Run Walkable Watershed Project. They are both supported by many dedicated volunteers who make these projects possible.  

Also on the operations side of the organization are three committees:  Science, Program, and Development.  The Science Committee provides technical knowledge about wetlands and associated policies.  They produce research-based white papers on wetland functions and value and are responsible for reporting on the State of the Wetlands in the Carolinas.  Members of the Science Committee also support site surveys for private landowners.  The Program Committee provides education and outreach support through events with local communities, museums, and various festivals.  The Program Committee also manages our Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas Program.  The Development Committee manages and produces our Organization’s web page, social media, and newsletter and is responsible for our giving campaigns and other fundraising activities.   All three committees are working hard on these activities and goals to develop our next 3-year Strategic Plan..

We are actively working on getting funding for additional projects located in Harnett County (NC),  Horry County (SC), Pitt County (NC), and Wake County (NC).  The Association is also very involved  in the North Carolina Natural and Working Lands initiative run by the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, and participates on various committees with the NC Office of Recovery and Resiliency. 

The Governance component of the Association is provided by the Board of Directors who provide guidance on strategic initiatives, make financial decisions, and promote the organization with the public. Board members are volunteers and make decisions on the overall direction of the organization.

So please keep in mind we need all of your support, both financial and as a volunteer.  We currently are looking for the following volunteer position:

  • Board Member
  • Development Committee Lead (Help with Communications )
  • Fundraising Lead

Please consider how you can best support your organization, just send me an email:  rick.savage@carolinawetlands.org or go to our donation page:  http://carolinawetlands.org/index.php/donations/.  

So go explore an wetland and cool off!

Rick

Volunteer Wetland Monitoring Program Completes Four Days of Successful Wetland Monitoring

The volunteers and project team for the Pilot Volunteer Wetland Monitoring Program enjoyed our second round of data collection activities on four consecutive days in early June. Since we were concerned that trying to fit all of the planned monitoring activities would be difficult to complete in a timeframe that would work for volunteers and the VWMP team, we split this monitoring series into four days. The weather cooperated and we had four straight days of warm temperatures and mostly clear skies. 

Our schedule included collecting well and water sampling data on the week days of June 2nd and 3rd and a combination of amphibian observations, site visit surveys and vegetation surveys on the weekend of June 4th and 5th.  

Water Monitoring

Dr. Mike Burchell (NC State Dept of Bio&Ag Engineering) led our group of volunteers in taking water level and water quality samples to analyze and compare to previous sampling data.

Even with the need to do water monitoring on the weekdays, volunteer turnout was good and all of the volunteers were able to get great hands-on experience. We’re looking forward to getting our first glimpses of the results of this sampling as it compares to the sampling done in February. 

Dr. Burchell discusses the water level with Paul

Amphibian Survey

Following the expertise of Thomas Reed (Wake County) we did an amphibian survey at all three wetland locations and the results are available to view on iNaturalist in our project page. Highlights of our survey were observations of a few Green Frogs, an American Water Frog and a Northern Cricket Frog. We also encountered a Spotted Salamander, a Northern Dusky Salamander and a Southern Two Lined Salamander. 

An American Water Frog (Genus Lithobates) sits along the edge of the marsh at Mason Farm Biological Reserve

This time out in the field, we reduced our amphibian survey time since it was deemed a potential habitat disturbance by having too much time and too many people doing the amphibian surveys. We also learned from our previous site visits to take our time and make sure the iNaturalist observations are completed immediately while in the study site and paid particular attention to recording water data when an amphibian was observed in water. 

Wildlife Observations

Other wildlife observations (not included in our monitoring data) including our encounter with a Ring Necked Snake can also been seen in our VWMP project page on iNaturalist.

A Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis Punctatus) in Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve

Vegetation Surveys

Fetterbush (Eubotrys Racemosa) Recorded at Robertson Millpond Preserve
Project Manager, Amanda, works with volunteers on surveying a vegetation plot

Amanda Johnson (VWMP Project Manager) and Rick Savage (Carolina Wetlands Association Executive Director) led us in completing vegetation surveys for 10 x 10 trees & shrubs vegetation plots and 5 x 5 herbaceous vegetation plots.

This survey activity resulted in 159 total vegetation observations that can be accessed through our iNaturalist project.

On our project page, you will be able to view all of the photos and recorded information on each species in our study area vegetation plots. 

Planning and Logistics

Overall, things went pretty smoothly with cold water and snacks helping us to power through our monitoring days. All of our meeting locations worked out great except for one day at Mason Farm where the designated lot was full of attendees at a nearby sporting event. We will again adjust the meeting location for future monitoring visits at Mason Farm and will now meet inside the farm at the grassy area near our site area 1 (this may require us to limit the number of volunteers we can have out at Mason Farm at a time).  

We still feel the need to figure out a way to not feel so rushed to complete all of our monitoring in the time given so will continue to reevaluate the schedule for future site visits. 

Make A Difference Week

Finally, as part of this round of monitoring visits, we represented Carolina Wetlands Association as participants in the Society for Ecological Restoration’s Make a Difference Week project.

We conducted litter sweeps at all three of our wetland sites in the VWMP.

Participating in the Society for Ecological Restoration’s Make a Difference Week

Next Steps

Our next field work days are planned for September of 2022.

A post monitoring site visit survey will be sent to all volunteers to gather information about their feelings toward the various elements of this phase of the pilot project and this will help inform decisions on upcoming site visits and other program activities and events. 

Stay up to date on the Pilot Volunteer Wetland Monitoring Program Website and feel free to reach out to the volunteer coordinator at patty.cervenka@carolinawetlands.org with any questions. 

We want to thank our contacts at each of the wetlands in our program: Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve, Mason Farm Biological Reserve and Robertson Millpond Preserve. 

Photo Gallery:

Introducing New Board Member: Becky Ryon

Becky Ryon was voted to the Board of Directors at our May meeting to replace the seat vacated by our current Executive Director, Rick Savage.

Becky grew up on the Gulf Coast of Florida and was fortunate to be surrounded by natural beauty. Unfortunately, like South Carolina, the diverse wildlife and habitats were constantly threatened by unrestrained development. Her childhood in Florida, young adulthood in North Carolina, and previous environmental advocacy work in Richmond with the Virginia League of Conservation Voters have instilled a limitless appreciation for the wild wonders of the Southeast and a desire to preserve them for future generations. She is working with the Coastal Conservation League to build a more resilient South Carolina through the protection of wetlands, smarter growth, expanding renewable energy, and supporting the efforts of frontline communities.

Becky is a firm believer in the science-based education and advocacy mission of the Carolina Wetlands Association and she is eager to help address the many challenges facing the wetlands, wildlife, and people of the Carolinas. She looks forward to learning new tools and strategies from volunteers, staff, and fellow board members and offering her own experience in outreach and advocacy efforts.

Becky studied Anthropology at UNC-Chapel Hill, loves to travel, and can often be found paddling on a river, walking on a beach, or exploring a heritage preserve in her spare time.

June Message from Executive Director

Greeting Wetland Supporters!

I hope everyone was able to get out to explore a wetland during American Wetland Month.  We had a fantastic tour of our Wetland Treasure, the West Branch Nature Preserve near Charlotte on May 7.  It not too late to sign up for the Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge boat tour on June 7.  Our other two 2022 Wetland Treasures tours are being scheduled (or rescheduled in the case of the Little Pee Dee Heritage Preserve), so keep watch on Facebook for those dates, you will not want to miss them.

One of our organization’s goals is to support all of our Wetland Treasure sites and maintain good relationships with the site owner.  One such case involves Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve in Horry Co., South Carolina.  I recently spoke to the Horry County Council (10 minutes and 30 seconds in to the video) about Lewis Ocean Bay and a the potential for a hospital be build nearby.  I was asked by the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League to talk about the Carolina Wetlands Association, our Wetland Treasures Program, and why we designated Lewis Ocean Bay as a Wetland Treasure.  Lewis Ocean Bay is largely a wet, longleaf-pine savannah and needs regular burning to maintain its habitat and biodiversity. If a hospital were to be built near the bay, the burning regime could be restricted and jeopardize the sensitive ecosystem of Lewis Ocean Bay.  The Horry County Council sincerely seemed to take our concerns into consideration.  This is the role that Carolina Wetlands Association can play in helping to protect our Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas. 

The Carolina Wetlands Association also hosted the first of many webinars on May 5, 2022 on the topic of with wetlands and climate change.  A white paper on this subject was produced by our Science Committee and the webinar was organized by Patty Cervenka. The webinar presentation was conducted by Heather Patti, the lead author on the white paper.  The webinar was a big success; we had a great discussion following the webinar and feel like people learned a lot.  We will have future webinars on other white papers produced by the Science Committee so watch our newsletter and other social media for announcements.

Talking about climate change, the budget proposed by NC Governor Cooper expands funding for natural and working lands conservation, restoration, management, and outreach – directly supporting many of the recommendations the 2020 Natural and Working Lands (NWL) Action Plan. Governor Cooper’s budget is a huge show of support for all of the work that was put into creating the NWL Action Plan which consisted of recommendations to restore and preserve wetlands and forest to sequester carbon.  Carolina Wetlands Association was a significant player in the development of the NWL Action Plan. Highlights include:

  • NC Land and Water Fund, for land conservation, restoration, and planning:
    • $6.8 million(M) recurring (bringing recurring funding up to $20 M)
    • $20M nonrecurring funding, totaling $40M for FY2022-2023
  • Parks and Recreation Trust Fund:
    • $3.7 M recurring (bringing the total annual funding up to $20 M)
    • $20 M nonrecurring funding, totaling $40M for FY2022-2023
  • Other Highlights:
    • $10 M to NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources for peatland and pocosin conservation and inventory
    • $10 M for the NC Resilient Communities Program ($4 Million for Resilient Coastal Communities Program and $6M for the RISE program)
    • $2 M for NC Forest Service, Forest Development Program
    • $843,000 for NC Dept of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Coastal Habitat Assessment Program (staff, mapping, species assessments, and wetland evaluation)
    • $250,000 to NC DEQ for Equitable Community Engagement grants
    • $700,000 NC State Parks Prescribed Fire Crew and equipment
    • $18 M to NC Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services for the Swine Floodplain Buyout Program

 You can read more about the budget at this link.

This is all very good news and supports the effort of other nonprofits, universities, and local, state, and federal agencies.  These opportunities truly open the door for future funding of Carolina Wetlands Association projects to help communities in need to mitigate their flooding issues and bring many co-benefits including improved water quality, recreation, human well-being, and economic benefits.

Contact me if you want to help in any other these efforts.

Rick Savage 

2022 Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas

The 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.  The designation of Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas indicates wetlands that are ecologically valuable, protected by conservation plans, and home to an abundance of plant and animal diversity.  All our Wetland Treasures provide many ecosystem services to the benefit of human wellbeing such as water quality, flood control, habitat, recreation, and a host of other services.

Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge

Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge

Location:  Bertie County, NC 
Wetland Type:  Protected forested wetlands consisting of bottomland hardwoods and swamps 
Site Owner: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Unique Feature: Home to over 200 species of birds, including 88 breeding resident species and a diversity of fish species, including the endangered Shortnose Sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum), all connected to each other through the shallow water tables and refuge flooding frequency.

Theodore Roosevelt State Natural Area

Location:  Carteret County, NC 
Wetland Type:  brackish salt marsh, freshwater pond, tidal flat  
Site Owner: North Carolina State Parks
Unique Feature: This 292-acre preserve is one of the few remaining tracts of old-growth maritime forests along the North Carolina coast. Its hiking trails feature views of Bogue Sound, maritime forest, salt marsh and an ancient dune ridge. 

Wambaw Swamp Wilderness

Location:  Charleston County, SC 
Wetland Type:  river-bottom land of hardwoods & sloughs   
Site Owner: U.S. Forest Service
Unique Feature: Thick with wild orchids, pickerel weed, sedges, carnivorous pitcher plants, and epiphytes. The wilderness is comprised of bottomland hardwood forest and is edged with small pine stands. Also, home to mature cypress and tupelo trees.

West Branch Nature Preserve

Location:  Mecklenburg County, NC 
Wetland Type:  river floodplain (due to beaver activity)   
Site Owner: Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation 
Unique Feature: Possibly the most ecologically important wetland in the county. Rich plant diversity with 114 species identified. Habitat to numerous species of salamanders, frogs, toads and turtles. Home to beavers, birds, as well as the eastern ribbon snake.