Dear Wetland Supporters,
In July, the National Mitigation and Ecosystem Banking Conference was held in Raleigh, NC. This conference brings together numerous companies and individuals interested in ecosystem services and allows a platform to share ideas and explore opportunities. The various attendees ranged from Departments of Transportation, federal and state regulatory and resource agencies, attorneys, contractors, consultants, practitioners, and capital providers.
A lot of interest has been generated in the last few years with ongoing concerns around climate change, nature-based solutions, and resiliency. A lot of money is being spent to pursue larger and more complex projects as carbon sequestration needs and water quality/quantity issues continue to rise. We only need to look at the recent algal blooms on the Chowan and Pamlico River (NC), flooding and water quality issues in northern Pitt County (NC) and flooding issues in Bucksport area of Horry County (SC) as examples of the issues communities across the Carolinas are battling.
Most of these issues developed over time as we continue to increase the amount of impervious surface, clear and drained wetlands, and build in floodplains. Solutions will require a holistic and multiple project approach that will take time and money to plan and implement. Restored and natural wetlands are a vital part of holistic, watershed-based solutions by helping to improve water quality and attenuate flood waters.
As demonstrated at the national mitigation conference, the science of wetlands continues to evolve. We are continually improving how wetland restoration projects are implemented to ensure the development of functioning ecosystems and to better track the restoration progress.
In the last thirty years of driving toward the Carolina coast, I have witnessed shifts in wetland systems due to beaver activity and saltwater intrusion. These changes to wetland hydrology whether water quantity or water chemistry have changed these ecosystems. Learning to implement holistic projects will help enhance the environment and protect communities with nature-based solutions. As this evolution happens, a whole industry continues to grow around mitigation and ecosystem services and the push for alternative ways to lessen the impact of climate change and build resilient system to withstand the future.
Go explore a wetland!
Norton Webster, Treasurer
Carolina Wetlands Association