Tag Archives: wetlandsmatter

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:

May Message from the Executive Director

Greetings Wetland Supporters!

Well, it is American Wetlands Month and our Wetland Treasures have been announced.  They are beautiful sites providing many benefits to biodiversity and contributing to human well-being.  Some of the tour dates are still being determined so be sure to watch our web page and facebook page for those dates.  You will not want to miss these tours.

As I look over the years, I have dealt with the study of wetlands and how to best protect them. I was reflecting on how I got interested  in wetlands in the first place.  While I cannot put my finger on exactly when or how old I was, I just remember that during my exploration of the woods as a boy, wherever I came upon a bottomland or stepped into the soggy soil, I became fascinated about not only why there was the soil was soggy soil, but why was it even there and what was its significance.  In those days I did know anyone who could answer my  questions, so I continued to wonder.  

As I progressed through life’s journey, I learned about wetlands as an ecosystem through my general science classes.  The emphasis was on food webs and how organisms interact with their environment; all important and interesting information, but what is special about  wetland?  As my life journey progressed, I did learn that wetlands are really important, but still, there was a real lack of emphasis in the textbooks on ecology about wetlands. I was starting to get this impression that wetlands were considered by the “experts” as the “redheaded stepchild” of aquatic ecosystems.  Even when I was doing wetlands monitoring research for North Carolina, it seemed that my research colleagues and I were pretty much in a world of our own, stomping around in wetlands.  Even the USEPA, who paid us to do this research, had wetlands as the last ecosystem to be surveyed when they were doing their national assessment of the nation’s waters ( i.e., steams, rivers, lakes, estuaries all came first).

Along the way, I realized that people had a basic fear of wetlands that has  a lot to do with our language and history.  Wetlands (e.g., marshes, bogs, swamps) were always seen as dark, dangerous places that held unpleasant mysteries.  So, they were drained to reduce this fear, to improve transportation and to be used for agriculture.  And our everyday language does not help.  How many times have you said I am so “swamped” or I got “bogged” down, all negative connotations?  And what is really meant by the expression “drain the swamp”?   What about the “Swamp Thing” comic book and movie creature who lived in that horrible swamp?

I could go on and on, but I hope you get the idea.  Our language and cultural history have created this negative image of wetlands and it is something that we still must overcome, even within professional realms.  So, let’s be cognizant of this during American Wetlands Month and help us break these stereotypes and educate people about the importance of wetlands.

So go explore a Wetland Treasure!

Rick

May is American Wetland Month

May is the perfect time of the year to celebrate wetlands across North and South Carolina. Plants and animals have awoken from their winter slumber and are ready for your enjoyment. The pollen is mostly gone and days are warm (but not too hot) making for good opportunities for hiking, birding, paddling and just exploring a wetland near you.

2021 Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas

The Carolina Wetlands Association invites your to visit one our Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas. They are found through North Carolina and South Carolina from the mountains to the coast. Use our interactive map to find a place to visit near you.

Join us for a tour

We are hosting tours to our 2021 Wetland Treasures of the Carolians. Registration is limited so sign-up early.

  • Weymouth Woods Nature Preserve in Moore County,  NC
  • Carolina Beach State Park in New Hanover County, NC
  • Richardson-Taylor Preserve in Guilford County, NC

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn

Get news and information about wetlands and learn fun facts about our Wetland Treasures throughout May and beyond. Please follow us and like/share our message with your friends to help amplify our message.

January Message: 2021 Goals

January is a time to set resolutions and goals for the new year.  For the Carolina Wetlands Association, we are ready to move beyond what we can not do last year and focus this new year on what we can do. 

  • Support local communities.  We are provided local communities and private property owners with assistance on how to protect and restore their wetland resources.  We are submitting three applications for grants this month .
  • Create wetland monitoring program. We are also planning to kick-off our volunteer wetland monitoring program this spring at three of our Wetland Treasures of the Caroline sites.  If this pilot program is a success, we will expand it to other sites in future years.
  • Educate decision makers. We are providing education resources and supporting efforts to inform state and local officials on the impact from the Waters of the US rewrite last year on the loss of protection to wetland resources in the Carolinas.    

Lastly, February 2 is World Wetlands Day. World Wetlands Day was created to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and our planet. This day also marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971. We are fortunate to have two wetlands of international importance in South Carolina, Congaree National Park and Francis Beidler Forest. Our goal for 2021 is to have Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge add to the list.

Our goals are not possible without the dedication of our volunteers and supporters like you.  Thank you for turning our goals into actions.

Click here to read the entre January Newsletter!

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

NC Wetlands Summit

The North Carolian Wetlands Summit was held at the North Carolian State Univeristy Arboretum in Raleigh, NC on September 25-26 with attendees from state and federal government, universities, non-profit organizations, and tribes.

The purpose of this meeting were to convene a community of wetland resource protection experts across North Carolina to learn about current research and monitoring in the state and evaluate future needs for research, monitoring, and education. The main outcome is the beginning of a strategy for a more integrated approach to wetlands protection across the state.

Meeting Materials

List of participants

Agenda

September: Message From the President

Message from the President

While not a Category 5 when Dorian reached the Carolinas, there was still plenty of flooding and wind damage from Dorian and the tornados it produced.  Please keep our coastal friends in mind as they recover from this significant event. We need our wetlands now more than ever given the frequency and intensity of such storm events.

I want to tell you about two new and significant projects that the Carolina Wetlands Association is starting.  First, we are partnering with North Carolina State University (Drs. Mike Burchell and Natalie Nelson) and RTI International (Kim Mathews) to establish a “volunteer wetlands monitoring program” at our wetland treasures sites.  This project is funded by EPA Region 4 Wetland Program Development Grant. Work on this grant will start later this year.

The second project we are working on is developing a workshop to educate local decision makers about wetland values and how they can be as nature-based solutions to benefit communities.  I have met with staff from North Carolina’s Office of Resiliency and Recovery about partnering with them on the workshop. Work is ongoing to develop the workshop and various supporting materials (e.g., tools, case studies) and we hope to test the workshop at the NC Coastal Conference in November.

More than ever, Carolina Wetlands Associations needs volunteers to help with these projects and to provide financial support. Please let me know if you are interested in helping with either of these projects.  A financial donation would be very important to consider at this time to help us in our success with building the organizational infrastructure we need to run these projects.

Thanks all, now go out and explore a wetland.

Rick