Creek Freaks Coming to Eastern NC!


“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!


Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

Cleanup with the New River Roundtable

DJT_8159Nicole Triplett (the Riverkeeper), Chris Luffman (award winning river cleaner), and I joined some people from Sturgeon City and the City of Jacksonville Stormwater department to collect some of the trash from the New River.

We put in at Sturgeon City (new Wilson Bay) and we paddled towards the bypass bridge. We collected a lot of plastic; lots of plastic bags, pallet wrap, huge sheets of plastic and the usual polystyrene cups, plastic water bottles, etc.

DJT_8168Chis is not pictured because he took a different route when he saw me take out my camera. He found some unusual items and made multiple trips to offload all the trash he collected, which may be why he is an award winning river cleaner.

It was a really nice day to be on the river. The sun was shining, the temperature was near perfect, and the winds were calm. If I hadn’t had other plans, I might have stayed on the river for most of the afternoon.

DJT_8172I’m sure there are a lot of people who think picking up trash is more like work than fun, but it can be more fun than work; especially when you go out with a group of friendly volunteers. You get to paddle and enjoy the water, but you’ve also got a mission and you return with a sense of accomplishment.

DJT_8155There is always something to see, and often we find interesting junk. The most important thing, of course, is that we’re doing our part to remove harmful trash from our precious waterways.

Please consider joining us for a paddle/cleanup. We need all the help we can get, and it’s a great way to spend some of your free time.

Doug Toltzman

Continue Reading

Chaney Creek Cleanup: A Qualified Success

DJT_7683We got seven volunteers out on Chaney Creek in Jacksonville, NC, today to collect trash in and along the creek. The weather was cloudy and cool, but the conditions were actually pretty good for a trash pickup. We picked up a lot of trash, much of it plastic.

We launched from The Marina Cafe, and they helped us to properly dispose of the trash we collected. I call the cleanup a qualified success because we gathered a lot of trash and got it out of the environment, but we couldn’t possible collect all of the trash that we saw, and we didn’t get as far up the creek as I had hoped. I also destroyed a pair of pants, wading through the muck.

DJT_7691We did see one, small alligator, warming himself on the bank, which is always fun. There is just something about prehistoric predators that makes me want to stop and stare. When I was a child, I had a fascination with dinosaurs.

Thanks to everyone who helped us, today, and to The Marina Cafe. If you’d like to join us on future cleanups, you can find us on, where we post all of our volunteer opportunities. We generally have a good time, and we’re planning a big party for out volunteers; you don’t want to miss out!

Continue Reading

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


Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading