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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Second Wind Anniversary Bash and Fundraiser

DJT_8213On June 4 Second Wind Yoga and Eco-Tours celebrated their 6th anniversary with a music, food, and fellowship.

As a long-time supporter of The White Oak-New Riverkeeper Alliance (WONRA), they also had a silent auction to raise money for our organization. Items for the silent auction were donated by Lee Walker, Cathy Ackerman, Georgia Mason, Sally Steel, Jeff Clark, Brooks Brewington, Iva Unterweiser, Michelle Thornell, Sole Sensations, Transcending Yoga-$850-item (yoga school scholarship), Hot Shots Photography, Sam Bland, Kim McGowan, Paula Roberson, Denise Montagnari, Full Lotus Wellness, Sandy Rockenhauser, C-Stores, Tina Siegel, Patricia Stone, Victoria Fox, Susan Nolin-Mary Kay, and Jessica Hanna. A cash donation of $125 was also given by David Zawistowski.

The crowd was great. The variety and quality of the food was amazing. If you couldn’t find something you liked, you just weren’t looking. There were a variety of entrees, fresh salads, vegetables, fruit, shrimp, and even delectable deserts.

Words cannot express my gratitude to April Clark and all those who donated or purchased items for going above and beyond to support our Riverkeeper.

Doug Toltzman

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Permuda Island Paddle Trash Fishing Tournament

Lisa Rider of Keep Onslow Beautiful (KOB) hosted a Paddle Trash Fishing Tournament launching from Topsail and heading to Permuda Island on Saturday, May 14th in collaboration with the National Esturarine Research Reserve, Plastic Ocean Project, On Shore Surf Shop, and the local paddling community. Aside from myself and my six year old daughter, two of White Oak-New Riverkeeper Alliance’s board members attended as well, including Dale Weston, White Oak-New Riverkeeper Alliance President and dedicated board member / volunteer Chris Luffman. It was a beautiful day for a paddle. Most attendees headed out on the water. My daughter and I stayed behind along with another couple and scoured the beach front with handy sifters and a five gallon bucket. According to the Ocean Conservancy (2016) “Just five countries currently account for almost 60 percent of the total leakage of plastic into the ocean, due to a mismatch between their ability to produce waste and their capacity to manage it.” Every little bit that you contribute to keeping our waterways free from trash is worth the effort.

I would like to congratulate our board member Chris Luffman for winning an award for “Most Trash Collected”!


Also, catch us on the news here:

Nicole L. Triplett, White Oak-New Riverkeeper


Ocean Conservancy. (2016). More plastic than fish in our ocean? Not if we act now. Retrieved from



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Earth Day Cleanup with the Rotary

DJT_7824We teamed up with the local Rotary clubs to do a county-wide cleanup for Earth Day. There were only 5 of us: Nicole Triplett (the Riverkeeper), Dale Weston (our President), Chris Luffman (board member), James Simpson (board member), and myself.

We expected rain, but it was quite pleasant the entire time we were out. We got slowed down by many, many bits of polystyrene (Styro-Foam) that were collecting along the shores. They take a lot of time to pick out of the water. We hauled out 2 plastic patio chairs, a bucket, a bowling ball, and 7 large bags of miscellaneous trash. All total, it was about 100 pounds of trash, which is a pretty good haul when a good deal of it is bits of polystyrene.

I want to say thanks to the Rotary for providing us with lunch. I was really hungry by the time we finished.

As a followup, our Riverkeeper is going to check on the source of the Styro-Foam peanuts that were scattered widely over a section of the creek.

by Douglas Toltzman, Secretary/Treasurer and Web Admin

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Sturgeon City Earth Day Event

DJT_7765Today was the Earth Day event at Sturgeon City. I think they had it today, because it’s Earth Day, but that could just be a coincidence. If it happens again next year, it may be a pattern.

In any case, the White Oak-New Riverkeeper (that’s us) set up a station there, so we got to interact with “millions” of school children. Nicole, the actual Riverkeeper, set up a fun little game where children would fish trash out of an imaginary body of water and Nicole would discuss the importance of removing trash from the environment and recycling the recyclable items.

_DJ24742There were lots of other stations there. Some of them were the work of the Sturgeon City crew, but there were other organizations there, including the NC Extension Office, Home Depot(?),  Possumwood Acres with the friendliest possum I’ve ever met, and some others. It looked like the kids were having fun and learning lots of neat stuff. They got to build a terrarium at one station, and Dianna Rashash from the extension office was teaching kids about different kinds of soil.

DJT_7800From what I could tell, the entire crowd was having a great time, running from station to station, learning new things, and getting their “passports” stamped. Our Riverkeeper got to introduce herself to lots of people and give a little overview of what we do.

DJT_7775It wasn’t all fun and games, we did get rained on a couple of times and we came within a few kilometers of getting struck by lightning. However, I think it was a great success, and I’d like to thank Chris Luffman for his assistance. Nicole couldn’t have done it without Chris’s help. Dale Weston was there, but he was mostly drinking coffee, and I was running around taking photos. You don’t think these photos just take themselves, do you?

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STEM Program coming to the Hoffman Forest

Wildlife Camera, provided by Fred Cubbage
Wildlife Camera, provided by Fred Cubbage.

Wednesday morning I met with a wonderful group of people with diverse backgrounds for planning a collaborative effort to bring our local communities together in a citizen science project focused on the Hoffman Forest public areas of the White Oak River. Jessica Hult of the White Oak Region Izaak Walton League and her son, homeschooler and Boy Scout, Luke, Kris Fowler of North Carolina State University, Fred Cubbage of the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University, and our new board member Dr. Pat Curley, Director of The Science House at the Center for Marine Sciences and Technology (CMAST), North Carolina State University, and myself all met to combine our efforts in developing a plan for wildlife camera traps to monitor for species in the Hoffman Forest and determine water sampling plans for our local homeschooled children and Boy Scouts.

The goal of our citizen science project is to create STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) opportunities to groups that would otherwise have limited access to these types of educational programs, and connect our local citizens with their natural systems that provide so much.

The Hoffman Forest houses the headwaters for the Trent, White Oak, and New Rivers and serves as a natural filtration system, pulling pollutants out of storm water before it enters the rivers. Given the burdens the White Oak River already faces with overloading of storm water creating abundant bacteria loads to the point of shellfishing closures, it is of utmost importance to understand the key functions of our natural systems and their interdependence. That public education is where I come in.

Nicole L. Triplett, White Oak-New Riverkeeper


Wildlife camera placement courtesy Fred, Jessica, and Luke.
Wildlife camera placement, courtesy Fred, Jessica, and Luke.
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Our Recent Fundraiser

DJT_7390On March 5, 2016 we held a fundraising event at The Marina Cafe in Jacksonville, with food served by A Shuckin’ Good Time. James Archer played live music, while our volunteers served up hot food.

An event like this is a group effort. I want to personally thank everyone who helped us pull this off. Of course, no fundraiser can be a success without patrons, and we’ve got some of the best patrons, ever. I can’t thank you all enough for your support.

We also had a silent auction and many people donated items for us to auction off. I’d also like to thank those people for their generosity in helping us raise some additional funds.

People who donated items for the silent auction:

DJT_7400We also received gift certificates, gift baskets, and other things from the following vendors:

Given how many things can go wrong at any event, I must say things went very smoothly. The professionals at A Shuckin’ Good Time had a lot to do with that. Also, I can’t thank The Marina Cafe enough for providing us with a venue that is right on the water. They’ve always been a great supporter of the Riverkeeper.

In addition to live music and a silent auction, Nicole (our Riverkeeper), gave a short presentation, while our guests shucked oysters and enjoyed some tasty shrimp and chicken tenders. As stewards of the river, we strive to educate anyone who will listen on the issues that confront us everyday and what everyone can do to help make our rivers cleaner and safer.

On a side note, I negotiated furiously with one of our charter members over a position on our board. If all goes well, we’ll soon have a new board member who has been a longstanding supporter. I sent her an application and I’m looking forward to her response.

I can’t thank everyone enough for their support. I have personally invested in the Riverkeeper Alliance because it means a lot to me. Without your financial support, and the help of an army of volunteers, there would be very little we could do. You guys make it all possible, and you have my eternal gratitude.

Doug Toltzman

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‘Merchants of Doubt’ Showing, Courtesy the Croatan Sierra Club


Film – Merchants of Doubt 

THURSDAY, JAN 14, 2016 At Joslyn Hall at Carteret Community College

6:30 PM Meet and Greet, 7:00-8:30 PM Movie

Free and Open to the Public

The 90-minute documentary exposes a concerted strategy to create doubt about the facts of climate change through the use of pundits-for-hire who present themselves as scientific authorities. Based on the book by Naomi Oreskes, the film interviews industry reps, global warming deniers, environmentalists, and climate scientists to create a riveting behind-the-scenes look at how the fossil fuel industry has been so successful in blocking government action on climate.

Co-sponsored by:

NC Interfaith Power and Light –

Croatan Sierra Club –

Carteret County Crossroads –

Please encourage all of your friends and family to attend, including/especially those who have doubts about climate change!


Thank you, and we hope to see you there!


See more details here: MerchantsofDoubt


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Polar Paddle & Plunge

Let’s Start the New Year Right! 

Do NOT miss this, friends! The Second Wind is having their annual New Year’s day Polar Paddle & Plunge! It’ll be a blast, albeit an Arctic one! 😉 Hope to see you there. Don’t forget to register! Please share.

Polar Paddle & Plunge

Friday, January 1, 11 A.M.

Cost: $20 Minimum Donation

Polar Bear Paddle and Plunge! January 1 at 11 am. Join us for one of the most exhilarating things you will do in 2016- take the plunge into the icy winter waters of the Crystal Coast! After the paddle and plunge we will enjoy a hot bowl of soup together. The cost is $20 and includes a kayak rental, soup, and donation to the White Oak New Riverkeeper Alliance. Contact April (910) 325-3600 to sign up.

Don’t forget to wear a costume!


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When Communities Come Together


There are many regions within the White Oak River Basin areas that are clean up worthy. It can be a real bummer to see take out cups, beer bottles, and all the creative things you can imagine choking up the natural landscapes all around you. This holds true in my local communities as well. This morning I bribed my high school aged neighbor, who happens to be out of school right now, to come clean up the entrance to Maynard Manor off of Gum Branch in Jacksonville, North Carolina. She brought along our two year old friend, and we slowly cleared one side of the entrance going on one hour. We got about three large bags filled before the task of cleaning and keeping up with the smallest of us got the better of us and we began to head back.

Look at all this yard waste!
Look at all this yard waste!

Before we could get away a mini van pulled up with a family of three and asked if they could join us. This was music to my ears! The daunting task of clearing out this area just got much less daunting.


Family of three!
Family of three!

Another hour and a half passed and all of us were able to fill up 9 of those orange bags with garbage.

When we drive past these areas and shake our heads thinking, “You know? Someone really should do something about all that trash,” remember: “You Are Someone!” You never know what example you may be setting for others in your community. A daunting task seems far less daunting when you realize there are others in the community willing and wanting to come along and help out. Sometimes all it takes is just showing up.

And ALL of this MUD!
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