Tag Archives: WOTUS

Trump’s proposed Clean Water Rule is devastating for our wetlands

The EPA has issued a proposed rule (Waters of the US rule) to replace the current federal protections for wetlands and streams. Soon the proposed rule will be publish and the public can submit comments. Then EPA will respond to comments by revising the rule before issue the final version of the rule.

Everyone needs to understand the impacts of this rule and speak up to the EPA, legislators, governors, and state agencies. The Carolina Wetlands Association will issue an announcement when the public comment period opens.

Explanation of the new proposed rule

In the new rule, wetland protection is dependent on stream protection. Stream protection will be drastically reduced, covering only perennial streams and some intermittent streams. In order for a wetland to be federally protected, it must directly abutt a jurisdictional stream or be an “adjacent wetland” with continuous surface flow to a jurisdictional stream part of the year. This means all bays, depressional wetlands, isolated wetlands, and floodplain wetlands will lose protection. North Carolina and South Carolina have extensive acreage of these types of wetlands.

The new rule will result in huge losses of our wetlands and streams.

The EPA is asking for comment on particular topics. Nearly all these topics lean toward additional loss of protection. They are asking questions such as:

  • Should we protect only perennial streams (not intermittent)?
  • Should we change the definitions and naming of streams to “seasonal”? (intermittent streams would have to flow at particular times of the year to be protected)
  • Should we protect only streams with a minimum flow? (eliminating protection on some perennial streams)
  • Should the definition of a wetland be changed?
  • Should we set a maximum distance of protection from a jurisdictional stream? (eliminate wetlands further out even if they flow to a protected stream)

The proposed rule is devastating to wetlands, but the final rule will be worse, as indicated by the tone of the EPA’s questions for comment. This EPA is hiding behind the idea of giving jurisdiction to the states if they want to protect these streams and wetlands. They even go so far as to say there may be no real loss of streams and wetlands because states can make up for the lack in protection from the EPA. This is unlikely to happen soon in North and South Carolina, so the new rule will result in huge losses of our wetlands and streams.

What is devastating for our wetlands, will be devastating for us.

Our wetlands do so many things for us – for free! If we lose protections of our wetlands and streams, we will lose the benefits they give us all.

We need to speak up against this proposed rule. Speaking up is an important role of CarWA, especially at this time. We can talk about why these wetlands matter to all people, and why they deserve continued protection.

Some of our Wetland Treasures would not be protected from development under this proposed rule (eg. Lewis Ocean Bay, Antioch Bay, Green Swamp, Hemlock Bluffs vernal pools). North and South Carolina have so much at stake; please plan to make a comment when the time comes and speak to your representatives.

Message from the President

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!

Rick Savage

President