A Watershed Whirlwind
by Nicole Carlozo -- March 25th, 2012
My Watershed Science & Policy class continued this week with numerous site visits and a whirlwind of outdoor fun.
We returned to the land this week, leaving the intracoastal waterway and Back Creek behind us. I missed the salty waves, but beauty still surrounded us everywhere we went.
Day 4: Weyerhaeuser Forestry
I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t think much about forestry before entering the Nicholas School. Yes, I was aware of the environmental and biomass issues associated with road building and harvest. As a former Wilderness Society intern, I was introduced to these issues in a policy and advocacy setting. But beyond that, I paid little attention to forest management issues.
This week we visited Weyerhaeuser (WARE-HOUSE-ER), a private tree forestry company that owns ½ million acres in eastern North Carolina. We saw firsthand how water moves over the land and the measures in place to reduce runoff (i.e. berms). We also learned about efforts to grow switchgrass (a biomass crop) between tree stands. Will those efforts succeed? Maybe next year’s class will find out.
Day 5: North River Farms Wetland Restoration
I was excited on Wednesday when the discussion turned to wetlands. A lecture on wetlands restoration was followed by a site visit to the North River Farms Restoration project, where we gained hands on knowledge about three major wetland components: vegetation, soils, and hydrology.
Day 6: Croatan Forest Rapid Stream Assessment
We ended the week with a trip back to the Croatan National Forest to complete a Rapid Stream Assessment. As we walked down the stream, we looked for stream health indicators, including channel condition, hydrologic alteration, bank stability, water appearance, fish and invertebrate habitat, and fish passage barriers. We also made a few wildlife friends along the way! (see below)