Developments in Swansboro

 

White Oak River at sunset.
White Oak River at sunset.

The development of land can lead to environmental problems if not approached in sustainable ways.  This is why there are planning processes before construction. One of the key issues that stretch across the board into each watershed is stormwater runoff which can impact habitat and nurseries and more.

Swansboro North Carolina draws many individuals because it is a popular tourist spot and a popular destination for retired folks to move. We have two such land developments occurring in the near future that the public needs to keep their finger on each way of the process. You can do this by calling your local representatives, writing your local paper, and attending local meetings.

Many have been following the development of the Hammocks Beach State Park mainland area planning. Your opportunity to give input and voice concerns is coming up! Please stay abreast of the opportunities and flood these meetings with your local friends and family to aid in making sound sustainable land use decisions of our beautiful State Park lands near the White Oak River. You can take the survey here: http://www.ncparks.gov/hammocks-beach-state-park-mainland-area-plan

Meetings on the development of the Hammocks Beach State Park are listed here:

Meeting
September 29, 2016
4pm-7pm, Visitor Center (Please drop-in at your convenience during these open house hours)

Anticipated Meeting Timeline
Sage Design – Collecting Site Inventory Information – July – September 2016
1st Public Meeting – September 29th from 4-7pm –  Seeking input and Ideas
Sage Design – Synthesis of all information gathered to date and development of a Draft Planning Document
2nd Public Meeting – Jan- Feb 2017 Presentation of Draft Program and Ideas, seeking additional input
Sage Design – Synthesis of all information and development of a Final Planning Document
3rd Public Meeting – March – April 2017 Presentation of Final Recommendations and Plan

What else is happening in the Swansboro area?

Bailey and Fuller Properties, LLC, a commercial development business, is soon developing 810 West Corbett Avenue off of Hwy 24. The area consists of 4.51 acres in the White Oak basin, 1.04 acres of which is 404 jurisdictional wetlands. The Town of Swansboro received a map from the developer that was not delineated and did not include any reference to the 404 wetlands. Having no knowledge of the aforementioned 404 wetlands, the commissioners of the Town of Swansboro issued a special-use permit to the developer on Tuesday, August 23rd. However, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers did receive a map of delineated wetlands and issued a public notice, which can be found here: Public Notice.

Had the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers not given public notice the Town of Swansboro commissioners would not have known of these wetlands. Please, be sure to make public comment to the Army Corp of Engineers by September 12th noting the Town of Swansboro made important decisions with incomplete information and should be allowed an opportunity to review all the information before making a decision! Comments can be made by email to Brennan.j.dooley@usace.army.mil and should be sent by 5pm on Monday, September 12.

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Creek Freaks Coming to Eastern NC!

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“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” – Chief Seattle, Duwamish (1780-1866)

Izaak Walton League of America’s (IWLA) National Clean Water Fellow Samantha Roth led a Creek Freaks training 14034859_10210459590835181_4694186027975588719_nthis weekend at the IWLA – White Oak River Chapter. Ten people in all from non-profit organizations to University professors were in attendance.  We learned lots of valuable ways to engage the locals and students in our watershed through classroom exercises, chemical testing to outdoor macroinvertebrate sampling.

Jessica Hult, President of the White Oak River Chapter IWLA, provided us all with a prime creek location on Caleb’s creek to pick through the awesome “water bugs” and do some water testing. Why would we like to look into the macroinvertebrates, water chemistry and watershed exercises? North Carolina has this wonderful natural heritage that provides us with recreational activities with our families. We have beautiful aquatic habitat with diverse species. We have economic tourism opportunities that rely on the quality of our water bodies. Ultimately, we want to connect locals and future generations with their natural heritage so they can determine appropriate water conservation and land usage in their own communities. The White Oak New Riverkeeper Alliance will be collaborating with the IWLA White Oak River Chapter on some prime sampling locations and making Creek Freaks opportunities available to our volunteers and families in the near future. I am excited to provide these opportunities and I am thankful to the IWLA for bringing this training to our watershed!

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Correction: Sage Island Design vs. Sage Design

It has come to our attention that the public has been misinformed in that Sage Island Design – a digital marketing agency based out of Wilmington – is being contracted to create the new master plan for Hammock’s Beach State Park with the possible inclusion of a 5 boat ramp. In fact, Sage Design at http://sagedesign.us/repo/sara-burroughs/ will be taking on this project.

We have learned that Sage Island Design has received many phone calls with questions regarding their involvement since the developments surrounding the misstatement made by a state official and please ask that people refrain from contacting the digital marketing agency.

Best,
Nicole L. Triplett
White Oak-New Riverkeeper

 

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New River Litter Clean Up

Photo courtesy our volunteer Kate Johnson.
Photo courtesy our volunteer Kate Johnson.

July 16th turned out to be yet another successful litter clean up. As we pulled into the Henry McAllister Landing (from US 258 turn onto Rhodestown Rd and follow the signs) we were greeted by a reporter for the Jacksonville Daily News that was there to get the scoop. Dale Weston, WONRA President, gave a good interview on the use of chainsaws in litter clean ups involving fallen trees. While this is a dangerous practice that should never be attempted by a novice, we do have a few experienced individuals in our organization that know in order to get those fallen trees from the river that just collect all the trash a chainsaw is inevitably the quickest and best choice.

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Photo courtesy Douglas Toltzman.

In all, we had seven volunteers. That includes my six year old whom enthusiastically also learned to paddle the kayak we were sharing that day. Our trip was somewhat abruptly halted when we began to hear thunder in the distance.

We all made it back to the landing before any rain however.

 

Photo courtesy volunteer Kate Johnson.
Photo courtesy volunteer Kate Johnson.

Interestingly, I got two reports from concerned citizens about some fallen trees in that same area days later. The New River remains pretty shallow there at times.And this has been a repeat problem area with strainers. As always, I very much appreciate the reports from citizens! You are our eyes and ears.

 

 

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White Oak River Trash Pickup

2016-07-02_Clip50Six industrious volunteers converged at Bicentennial Park in Swansboro around 09:00 on July 2, 2016. We collected a lot of trash (no surprise, there). In just 2 hours, we picked up about 6 large bags of trash and some larger items.

2016-07-02_Clip51Four of the volunteers were already on my list of invitees to the volunteer appreciation party. I added two new people to the list. I had hoped to add a bunch more.

For those of you who really wanted to help out but just couldn’t make it, I’ve got good news. We’re going to have another cleanup on the 16th of July. The next one will be on the New River, downstream from Rhodestown Road. There will be a lot of trash to pick up, but we’ll have shade, so it won’t be so hot. Please check out our Meetup group for details. If you’re a Meetup member (you can join for free) you can RSVP there. If you don’t want to join Meetup and you want to help out, please get in touch with Nicole or one of our directors.

2016-07-02_Clip49I encourage everyone to join us. It can be a messy job, but it’s not difficult and it is really important work. If you don’t have a boat, let us know and we’ll see if we can get you into a boat. If you volunteer for even one event this year, you’ll be invited to our volunteer appreciation party. Our most active volunteer is going to get something cool. I’m not sure what, yet, but I’m sure it will be better than getting hit on the head by a falling pine cone.

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Izaak Walton League of America Creek Freaks Training

Creek Freaks Flyer_NCAs a result of our continued interest in Hofmann Forest as the home of the headwaters for both the White Oak and New rivers, and working with Dr. Fred Cubbage & his assistant Kris Fowler on Citizen Science on the Hofmann project, Izaak Walton League of America National has offered to bring us this awesome Creek Freaks training course! This will include using benthic macroinvertebrate biodiversity as water quality indicators (aka “little water bugs”), but it’s going to be more than just that. It’s designed to help us more effectively engage the youth and volunteers in our community by delivering fun and effective watershed lessons. Creek Freaks training equips educators with the knowledge and skills to do this! Join us for a two day workshop where we will explore exciting hands on lessons and curriculum, and venture outside for Save Our Streams stream monitoring training!

Training takes place August 20th & 21st from 10am to 5pm @ 287 Hadnot Farm Rd., Swansboro, NC 28585. Please register no later than August 10th. See flyer for details.

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Sewage – Dirty Business

DSC_0236The Ellis Pump Station in the Hardison Hills area of Jacksonville experienced a sewage leak near Wilson Gate on Monday, June 13th. The original estimate was reported at 1,500 gallons and by June 15th the estimate reached 50,000 gallons. This was the result of the SCADA system being turned off for the Ellis Pump Station during routine maintenance. By the time the maintenance crew stopped the spill, 50,000 gallons of sewage had made it through one manhole and as far as Scales Creek. Both the State and myself had been notified of the spill by the City Manager. The State has sampled on June 13th, June 14th, and June 15th. By the third day the State’s water samples tested low enough for the State to discontinue sampling…

DSC_0237As this was a result of human error, I hope that we will not see this again for Jacksonville. I greatly appreciate the effort made by the City Manager to keep us informed of the leak and the sampling efforts made by the State. I will be making a few trips out to check back and sample where needed.

On the other end of town, it has come to light that even though the Town of Maysville unanimously voted to sign a Special Order by Consent (SOC) on November 5th 2015 the NC Department  of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has yet to complete the timeline draft of upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant and present it to the Town of Maysville for review. A state official declared, “Maysville WWTP is on my inspection list.  My last visit to Maysville WWTP was a compliance evaluation in December 2015.  The plant was operating well at that time. Since Envirolink has been involved, the plant has done well.”

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Jones Island Cleanup with NC Coastal Federation

IMG_20160614_125223On June 14th my family and I joined North Carolina’s Coastal Federation (NCCF) for a Jones Island litter cleanup. Jones Island, a 24-acre barrier island situated in the middle of the White Oak River, was purchased by NCCF and partners to be included as part of the Hammock’s Beach State Park in 2007 for environmental and cultural preservation. Apart from being an important ecological system that houses the federal species of concern the Eastern Painted Bunting, Jones Island reduces the amount of stormwater in the White Oak. Much of the White Oak is closed to shellfishing permanently in some areas due to high levels of bacteria caused by stormwater runoff and development.

 hermitNCCF’s Coastal Scientist Lexia Weaver explained the importance of the living shoreline along the barrier island. This shoreline is made up of planted marsh grasses and netted oyster shell bags to prevent erosion and encourage the growth of the eastern oyster. Why is the eastern oyster so important? Aside from being delicious, the eastern oyster can filter 25 to 50 gallons of water per day. This is not only good for water quality, but also provides great habitat for varieties of marsh grass and additional water dwelling creatures like the hermit crab pictured here.

You can check out this cool time-lapse video created by Florida Oceanographic Society to see oysters in action. 

We hauled out a lot of trash that day, met some wonderful locals, and had lots of conversations regarding the health of the barrier island and the White Oak River.

I thoroughly enjoyed this cleanup and look forward to joining NC Coastal Federation on many river projects in the future.

Nicole L. Triplett

White Oak-New Riverkeeper

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