Tag Archives: natural and working lands

President’s Message – NC Climate Assessment and RESILIENCY Plan

Dear Wetland Supporters:

All of us at Carolina Wetlands Association are aware of need to address systemic racism in our society and clearly support the movements and peaceful protests that are calling for an end to such practices that are all too embedded into our society.  From an organizational point of view, we are focused on environmental equity.  We know that disadvantaged communities face environmental problems such as poor air quality or poor water quality. The Carolina Wetlands Association is working to make sure that the benefits of wetlands are experienced by all peoples.  This is illustrated by one of our projects where we have the opportunity to connect two diverse communities through a wetland park and help to increase environmental equity.      

Another effort that Carolina Wetlands Association has been involved with is the Natural and Working Lands (NWL) Stakeholder Group organized by the Governors Administration and NC Division of Environmental Quality.  The results of this effort are included in Chapter 6 (Nature Based Solutions to Resilience) of North Carolina’s Climate Assessment and Resiliency Plan. The entire NWL report is Appendix B of the Plan.  The Plan is meant to be a starting point for actions and will be improved over time.  

The NWL report emphasizes restoration and conservation of forests and wetlands to increase carbon sequestration.  The co-benefits of these efforts are also emphasized such as flood mitigation, water quality, recreation, community resilience, and education.  The NWL Report is a document that can be used to advance actions to mitigate climate change and help communities build resilience.

Highlights of the Natural and Working Lands Report

Pocosins: There is a section specifically devoted to Pocosin restoration which the US Fish and Wildlife Services is already doing at the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge (a 2020 Wetland Treasure of the Carolinas) and the work of Dr. Curt Richardson (Duke University and on the Carolina Wetlands Board Member) restoring up to 10,000 acres of pocosin. 

Coastal Habitat: Wetland and forest restoration can help mitigate flooding and sea level rise. 

Flood Plains: Flood Plain Wetlands are critical to the restoring these areas back to their natural state to be a major mitigator of flooding and to sequester carbon. 

Forests: Actions include restoration and conservation to achieve a unique “no net loss” of forested lands in North Carolina.  There was also a call for landowner incentives to conserve their forest to sequester carbon as an alternative to harvesting.  Wetland forests are a major part of this effort. 

Agriculture: The agriculture section calls for regenerative agriculture practices to increase carbon sequestration and to continue to build our soils to a healthier state. 

Urban Lands: Increasing forests, flood plains and wetland restoration in urban areas (with their many co-benefits) and the implementation of site preparation measures before develop occurs to keep as many trees standing and not to through away our top soil. 

The NWL Report is a document that can be used to advance actions to mitigate climate change and help communities build resilience. These are some of the highlights of the document and I encourage you read it for yourself and to feel free to make suggestions for future versions of the document to me.

The Carolina Wetlands Association is committed to implementing the NWL plan and we have two projects in progress that will acquire wetlands, restore them to provide better function primarily with flood mitigation and carbon sequestration, but also to provide many co-benefits and ultimately have the resulting restored wetland will be owned by the communities we are working with.  This is a significant way to build community resilience and we will say more about this in the near future.  

Thanks all, be safe, and explore a wetland, virtually!

Rick

Message from the President

Dearest wetland supporters:

Just wanted to say a big thank you for all your support. 2019 was a big year for us as we were able to start several new projects and will be starting others in 2020. We cannot do this without your support, both financially and in volunteering.

A major effort that Carolina Wetlands Association was working with the Natural and Working Lands initiative started by the Governor’s office and managed by NC DEQ. This is a stakeholder group of state and federal agencies, NGOs and nonprofits, and experts from academia. Kim Matthews, Heather Clarkson and I work on this effort all year long and recommendations are currently being written up.

The recommendations focus on forest and wetland restoration to sequester more carbon, the co-benefits that result in terms of ecosystem services (such as water quality, flood control, etc.), and the building of community resilience. Along with these recommendations, are many policy suggestions such as expanding the floodplain buyout program to include farms, environmental equity, public outreach and education and the role of citizen science. I was also invited to attend a meeting of the US Climate Alliance in Washington, DC a part of the NC delegation.

From the Natural and Working Lands effort and with meeting with many other environmental organization in the state, Carolina Wetlands Association has taken on the challenge to develop a workshop to educate local decision makers about wetland value, their place in nature-based solutions and how they help build community resilience. The first version of the workshop was presented at the SeaGrant Coastal Conference in Wilmington in November. Amanda Johnson, David Shouse, Kim Mathews and I attended the meeting and presented the workshop. Very valuable feedback was received and the workshop will be updated. It is likely that NC Office of Recovery and Resiliency will partner with us on this workshop which we view as important to implementing the recommendations of the Natural and Working Lands initiative.

We also did our normal events to advocate for wetlands at Cary Arbor day, Reptile and Amphibian day at the NC Natural Science Museum, Bass Lake Day, meet and greet events in Asheville and Durham.

Plans for a SC Wetlands Matter event is being planed for March in Georgetown. There are also plans being made to have a similar Wetlands Matter event in Hilton Head Island, SC with the Coastal Discovery Museum and the HHI Land Trust later in 2020.

Carolina Wetlands Association was a sponsor to the WRRI conference in March for the second straight year. We had one session with four wetland papers and we had a panel discussion with Geoff Gisler (Southern Environmental Law Center and Carolina Wetlands Association), Norton Webster (Carolina Wetlands Association), Phil May (Carolina Ecology), and Michael Flynn (NC Coastal Federation) about the rule changes to the waters of the US (WOTUS).

The Association also was a sponsor for the America Ecological Engineering Society (AEES) annual meeting in Asheville in June. This was a great conference with Kim Matthews, Norton Webster and I attending. We were able to get quite a few ecological engineering/restoration companies interested in Carolina Wetlands as well as many of the attendees. The AEES is a national organization.

This past year also saw our newest Wetland Treasure selections: Bluff Mountain Fen (Ash County, NC), Croatan National Forest (Craven, Carteret, and Jones Counties, NC), Merchants Mill Pond (Gates County, NC), Santee Coastal Preserve (Charleston County, SC), and Woods Bay (Florence, Clarendon, and Sumter counties, SC). The wetland treasure tours were well attended, and all had a great time learning about their area wetlands.

Early in the year there were several meetings between Carolina Wetlands, RTI International and NC State University to talk about a grant to develop a volunteer wetland monitoring program. Michael Burchell and Natalie Nelson of NCSU, Kim Matthews of RTI and Carolina Wetlands Association, and I wrote an EPA Wetlands Program Development grant and was awarded the grant in June. We will be starting work on developing that volunteer wetland monitoring program with a few of our wetland treasures in 2020. This is a major accomplishment for the organization and will provide a project that will hopefully be sustainable with several sources of funding.

We will need to continue to have your support in 2020 as this will be our best year yet. We are making a difference. If you have not made your financial contribution, please do so and contact us if you want to help out on any of these projects.

Happy New Year and start the new year by exploring a wetland.
Rick