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.