County-Wide Earth Day Litter Cleanups!

This Saturday you can join White Oak-New Riverkeeper in showing your appreciation for our beautiful Earth and protect your local rivers by participating in one the many Earth Day Litter Cleanups in Onslow County. You can find WONRA at two of these events.

 

Keep Onslow Beautiful will be heading the litter cleanup at Deppe Park 102 New Bern Hwy, Maysville, NC. This is the area where I will be participating. You may register through KeepOnslowBeautiful@onslowcountync.gov.

 

Second Wind Eco Tour & Yoga will be heading the litter cleanup at 1572 Hammocks Beach Road, Swansboro, NC. You must pre-register at Must pre-register – 910-325-3600.

 

WONRA hosts a litter cleanup event once a month as well, so keep in touch!

– Nicole L. Triplett, White Oak-New Riverkeeper

 

 

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Invasion of the Wooly Frogs Mouth!

Wooly Frogs Mouth (Philydrum lanuginosum)

An invasive plant that goes by the name of “Wooly Frogs Mouth” has been found in a Pender County NC pond recently. This is the first instance of a Wooly Frogs Mouth spotting in the United States, and this invasive species was dubbed High Risk for Impact and Establishment and Spread in the US. If you have spotted this plant please contact the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Weed Specialist Dr. Bridget Lassiter  at bridget.lassiter@ncagr.gov or (919) 707-3749.

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It’s that time of year again! Operation Medicine Drop is coming to town.

Operation_Medicine_Drop_Logo (2)

On Saturday, March 19th from 10 am to 2 pm WONRA volunteers will be partnering with our local police department and others to collect prescription and non-prescriptions medications (veterinarian prescribed medications included). Bring your expired or leftover medications to participating locations to dispose of them freely and anonymously and sleep sound knowing that you had a hand in keeping pharmaceuticals off the streets and out of the waterways. For more water quality information on pharmaceuticals check out our Issues page.

Would you like to volunteer to sit with your local officers and help out the community? You can RSVP here: Volunteer for Operation Medicine Drop

Check back regularly before the date for updates on participating locations or visit the site directly here: NCDOI’s Calendar of Operation Medicine Drop Events in NC

Walgreens Hwy 258 Jacksonville, NC

 

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Thanks for Another Successful Cleanup

trashOn January 30, seven of us set out to clean up around the Swansboro bridge over the White Oak River (the double bridges). I’ve often said, if you pick up one piece of plastic and dispose of it properly, you’ve made a difference. Well, by that standard, we made a huge difference this past Saturday!

VolunteersI was saddened by how much trash we found, but I am heartened by the dedication of our volunteers and the cooperation we got from the community.

If you’ve never been on a trash pickup, I suggest you join us for at least one. Yes, we can always use more help, but also, I believe it opens your eyes to the scope of the problem. If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably not one to toss your trash out the window, but maybe we can convince you to pack a trash bag on your outings and make the effort to pick up some trash when you’re out and about. Every little bit really does help, and the problem is a lot more serious than you might imagine.

DJT_7238Take a close look at the photo on the left, and see if you can count the number of man-made items. The glove and can are barely the tip of the iceberg. Click the image to view it more closely. (We don’t pick up broken glass, as a rule.)

trash-pile2We didn’t run out of trash to pick up before we ran out of time. We had so many trash bags we had trouble hauling them away. I’d like to extend a special thanks to Dudley’s Marina in Cedar Point for helping us with that. I’d also like to thank Second Wind Eco Tours and Yoga for providing equipment.

Last, but not least, I want to thank the tireless volunteers who took time out of their weekend to help us collect 8 large bags of trash and a pile of items too big for our trash bags. It was not a trivial effort, and everyone pitched in. You people are awesome, and I can’t thank you enough.

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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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Nov. 7 Public Meeting

The White Oak-New Riverkeeper Alliance is having a planning meeting at the Bake Bottle & Brew coffee shop on the Swansboro waterfront at 147 Front St. The meeting is open to the public and will start at 10:30am on November 7, 2015. We encourage anyone who is interested in what we do to join us for an open planning session.

We will hear from our president, Dale Weston, our new Riverkeeper, Nicole Triplett, and Doug Toltzman on the state of our river, recent projects, what we need from our volunteers and the community, and our future plans.

Most of the meeting will be reserved for an open discussion about upcoming projects and public outreach. We are seeking new board members, and we’ll have applications for anyone who would like to apply. We would also like to enlist as many supporting members as we can (there is no cost to attend the meeting), because we rely on public support to run our programs and pay our Riverkeeper.

Whether you’re a paddler, a fisherperson, or just a concerned citizen, we’d love to hear from you. Nicole is your Riverkeeper, and she can’t do her best without community involvement and input.

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About Our Riverkeeper

frame5smWe’re in the latter stages of hiring a full time Riverkeeper to help us do community outreach, organize events, keep an eye on our rivers and estuaries, inform our public officials, raise money, write grant applications, and other things related to clean, safe public water resources in the White Oak River basin.

Now, if that sounded like a lot to expect from one person, you’re absolutely right! There is no way one person can watch hundreds of miles of streams, manage public outreach programs, clean up trash before it gets to the ocean, and influence our public policy makers on policy decisions. Our new Riverkeeper will need your help!

We don’t expect our Riverkeeper to be an army of one. The Riverkeeper will need lots of volunteers for all sorts of activities and projects. The Riverkeeper will collaborate with our excellent city, county, and state, environmental actors. We currently have several governmental organizations doing water sampling in our watershed. The Riverkeeper will be the eyes on the river, and he/she will document and report significant events to the responsible authorities. In order to know when and where environmental incidents are occurring, the Riverkeeper will need paddlers all over the basin to keep an eye on the places they paddle, and report suspicious conditions to the Riverkeeper for further investigation.

In essence, we aren’t hiring a Riverkeeper. You are. You, the paddler, the fisherperson, the homeowner, the swimmer, sailor, boater, or just the person who eats and drinks and would rather not be poisoned, are getting a person who you can rely on to assess and advocate for your precious water resources. However, you are the eyes and the muscle of the Riverkeeper. He/she can’t be everywhere, and he/she can’t do everything. We’re counting on dedicated volunteers to pitch in, make our Riverkeeper program a success, and help our new Riverkeeper feel welcome and appreciated.

I, for one, will be there to help organize events and pick up trash. I will continue to report things like alligator weed, discoloration of water, sediment/erosion problems, trash dumps, fish kills, and other unusual events that I observe when I’m out paddling. Sometimes all it takes to help is a little education and a genuine concern for our quality of life.

We will be announcing our new Riverkeeper in the next 2 weeks.

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It’s What You Eat

Canoe on Hawkins Creek, Hubert, NC
Canoe on Hawkins Creek, Hubert

I recently witnessed a visible change in Queens Creek that was caused by iron, precipitating into the water. That may have been a natural phenomena, but I am suspicious about the cause, because I don’t remember ever seeing rust colored water in any of our local estuaries in over 20 years of paddling in them. I discovered, while examining water samples under a microscope, that the rusty water contained significantly less phytoplankton than a sample I took the same day on an adjoining creek that didn’t have excess iron.

DJT_6351Micro-organisms may seem insignificant, but they are the very base of the food chain. Without them, there are no bass, flounder, or red drum. Microorganisms can also be toxic, like the red tide. Any imbalance of phytoplankton can have significant impacts on our food supply. There are also microorganisms, like dinoflagellates (pfiesteria piscicida), that can impact human health, in addition to killing fish.

Whenever we pollute the water, whether it be with excess nutrients, untreated sewage, pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals, we shift the balance in the microscopic populations and jeopardize the very base of the food chain on which every living thing depends; including us. Impaired waters can result from many seemingly insignificant sources of pollution, like excess fertilizer applied to lawns, or large sources of pollution, like runoff from a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO). It could even be from a seemingly natural increase in dissolved iron. I’m not going to say that mother nature is always benevolent, but she has a way of maintaining the balance.

_DJ23899When you combine natural impacts with unrelenting human impacts, the results can be devastating. You may have read the recent news about the loss of about half of the wildlife on the planet in the past 40 years. While the reasons for wildlife loss are various, every negative impact matters. Sometimes it may seem like conservationists are creating a tempest in a teapot over what may seem like trivial issues. Allow me to use an analogy: When your financial situation is such that your bills are paid and you’ve got lots of money left over for discretionary spending, you don’t get really excited about an increase in the price of gasoline, a gallon of milk, or a dozen eggs. After all, it just chips away at your surplus; you’ve still got plenty of money for basic needs. However, when your property taxes go up, your income goes down, and you’re clipping coupons just to put food on the table, all of a sudden, even a small price increase can impact your quality of life.

The environment is not unlike your household budget. When environmental quality is high, production is high, and when demand doesn’t outstrip production, there are surpluses and nobody gets too excited about some environmental degradation. However, after centuries of environmental degradation, habitat destruction, and increasing demands on production by an ever growing human population, we’ve reached the point where small impacts equate not only to less food on our plate, but sometimes entire species are disappearing, which can start an irreversible chain reaction.

_DJ23860Every time a food source disappears, the people relying on that food source must find something to replace it. That results in more pressure on the remaining resources, possibly resulting in yet another collapse in the food web, which, in turn, puts even more pressure on the remaining sources of food.

Conservationists and environmentalists may sound like mother hens, at times, but it is imperative that every one of us get educated about what we can do to reduce our impact on our environment and take action, now.  There is no time to wait. I know most people are already struggling with their day to day lives. I know I am. Once you begin to understand the way your choices impact the environment, you can begin to make better choices. In many cases, you can save time, money, or both.

Here are some simple examples that you may have heard of, and even implemented in your life. Thank you, for all that you have done, and anything you can do in the future.

  • Use re-usable grocery bags to save on plastic trash
  • Replace tungsten light bulbs with energy saving compact fluorescent bulbs, or better yet, LEDs
  • Properly dispose of trash (don’t litter), and please recycle
  • Don’t over fertilize your lawn, and don’t apply fertilizer or chemicals right before a heavy rain
  • Combine trips to the store to save time and fuel
  • Don’t flush medications (or dental floss!) down the toilet; actually, it’s bad to flush much of anything down the toilet other than what it was made for
  • Eat less meat
  • Go kayaking with your Riverkeeper

I could go on for days, here. I know there are lots of Internet sites with suggestions on how to shop wisely and manage your lawn and household in an environmentally responsible way. The point I’m trying to make here is that you are doing yourself, your friends, family, and your descendants a disservice if you don’t at least take a few minutes to evaluate your life, cut out waste, and reduce your use of toxic chemicals and fertilizers that end up in our lakes, rivers, streams and ocean. The fish you kill might be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back. Your used motor oil might kill the last piping plover and start a chain reaction that results in the extinction of all life on Earth! Ha! You would have been disappointed if I didn’t throw in at least one doomsday remark.

Life on planet Earth has changed, because our environment and our circumstances have changed. There are over 7 billion of us, now. We need to get smarter if we’re going to survive. That, my friend, is a fact. Thank you, for taking the time to read this. I hope you’ll give it some thought.

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