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!