Tag Archives: Carolina Wetlands Association

Program Committee

The committee is advocates for wetlands by promoting the value and services of wetlands to everyone. They develop educational materials about wetlands for the general public, state legislatures, landowners, local governments, and other conservation organizations and organizes and/or participates in events to educate the public. We always need fresh ideas to support our mission.

Program Committee

The committee is advocates for wetlands by promoting the value and services of wetlands to everyone. They develop educational materials about wetlands for the general public, state legislatures, landowners, local governments, and other conservation organizations and organizes and/or participates in events to educate the public. We always need fresh ideas to support our mission.

February Message from Rick

Hello Wetland Enthusiasts!

I hope everyone had a fantastic World Wetlands Day and was able to get out and explore a wetland.

Recently, the US EPA announced the changes to the definition of Waters of the US (WOTUS) which has serious implications for the protection of streams and wetlands especially. We know that fewer wetlands will be under federal protection under the Clean Water Act, but just how many wetlands will lose their protection is still to be determined.

One estimate based on an EPA internal presentation is that 18% of the streams would lose protection and 51% of the wetland would lose protection across the United States. Based on data we have for North Carolina, we estimate that 26% of forested headwater wetlands could lose protection and depending on interpretations, it could be much more. We also know that many basin wetlands like pocosins, wetland flats, and Carolina bays could lose their protection.

So, you may wonder, what does it mean for a wetland to lose their protection. When a wetland is to be impacted usually with some development project, a permit has to be granted by the US Army Corps of Engineers to approve the impacts (I.e., draining and filling) and after efforts are made to first avoid or minimize the impact. A second permit is needed from the North Carolina Department of Enironmental Quality. This permit is also based on the Clean Water Act but deals with water quality issues with the proposed impact. Both permits are required before a wetland can be filled or altered. If a wetland loses protection under the Clean Water Act, then a developer can directly impact a wetland or stream without a permit — there is no legal mechanism to prevent or minimize (or mitigate) the wetland impact.

Some states like California and Minnesota have state rules that protect wetlands and streams beyond the federal government. However, the state of North Carolina currently cannot have stricter laws than the federal government. South Carolina is not under this same restriction but would require legislative action to pass new rules.

Of course, there will be lawsuits and probably the implementation of the new rules will be delayed. The Carolina Wetlands Association will be speaking up for the protection of wetland across North and South Carolina. We need to hear your stories about wetlands that will be impacted by the changes in definition of Water of the US. Please contact me, rick.savage@carolinawetlands.org.

Be sure to watch our webpage for the latest information as we learn more about what these new rules will mean to our wetlands. We should all be concerned about the impact to our ecosystem services provided by our wetlands.

Thanks all and let’s spread the word about how we need to protect our wetlands,

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

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.

Message from the President

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rick Savage

President