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!


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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 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.

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.

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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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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An Update on Plastic

I think most of us knew that plastics are not really biodegradable; not like a banana peel, anyway.  This article from the Christian Science Monitor spells out the problem. It also mentions some new technologies that might help in the future and emphasizes that we must do all we can to keep plastics out of the water.

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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

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