Tag Archives: Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas

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:

Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge Boat Tour

The Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge is 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.

Event is limited to 11 attendees, due to the size of boat. The tour will be lead by RRNWR wetland biologist, Jean Richter.

Where to meet: Meet at the Wildlife Resource Commission boat access is Hamilton, NC. The address is 316 East Main Street, Hamilton, NC.

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.