The Town of Columbia
For Adopting and Promoting Low Impact Development Strategies
The Town of Columbia’s mayor pro tem, and former federation board member, Midge Ogletree was impressed with the federation’s work to advance Low Impact Development,
or LID, as a voluntary option for developers. So much so that she spear headed an effort to ensure LID stormwater approaches could be implemented and promoted in her small coastal community along the Scuppernong River.
What began as a simple dialog between the Town and federation over the benefits of LID, blossomed into a productive collaboration that included the Town, a 12-member Technical Review Team and federation staff. Through night meetings, email strings and relentless edits, the Town never waived in their commitment to create a manual that outlined alternative ways for developers and residents to manage stormwater.
As the federation continues to promote LID, Columbia stands as our model community in the northeast coast. We commend their environmental leadership.
River City CDC YouthBuild Program
For Innovative and Collaborative Approaches to Learning
Located in Elizabeth City, the YouthBuild program of the River City Community Development Corporation is managed by Angie Wills. The YouthBuild program provides low income youth with a unique combination of education and employment skills through training, education and meaningful work in their communities. We were so impressed with the program that we invited Angie to join the federation Board of Directors.
This past year, the federation collaborated with the YouthBuild program to bring students out to explore coastal habitats and help with federation projects. Field visits had students rolling up their sleeves to weed, mulch and replant rain gardens, bag and distribute oyster shell bags to create oyster habitat, and planting grasses to build living shorelines. Field work was coordinated with environmental lessons and activities that supported earning students’ GED’s.
Through this partnership the federation provides work experiences to help reach YouthBuild’s community service goals. In turn, students help us conduct restoration projects that improve water quality in their communities.
Kendall Smith, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
For Advancing Major Coastal Habitat Restoration Initiatives
Kendall Smith has been a long-time partner, helping to advance many wetland restoration and water quality improvements in the northeast coastal region of the state. He serves as a sounding board, liaison, and advocate for our work.
Together we successfully built a pilot restoration project in Hyde County, which resulted in 600 acres of wetland habitat. This project is now managed for shorebirds, water quality improvements and landowner recreation. Kendall continues to provide guidance and assistance in refining the project’s management to maximize benefits.
Kendall has helped to identify and coordinate other projects. He served as a liaison between private landowners and neighboring wildlife refuges, two landowners who don’t always see eye to eye. His pragmatic outlook helped landowners realize the benefits of working together. Kendall helped to build a boardwalk at the Manteo Elementary School that enhances students’ access to and use of a rain garden. He’s also collaborated to develop a cost-share program that encourages landowners to restore Atlantic White Cedar. We value Kendall’s vision, cooperative spirit, experience and skills that have allowed us to make major strides in habitat restoration.
James Barrie Gaskill and Gene Ballance
For Remarkable Community Leadership in Restoring Coastal Habitats
Beacon Island in the Pamlico Sound is one of only nine remaining nesting sites in North Carolina for brown pelicans. Springer’s Point Nature Preserve also located on the sound is a local cultural landmark and the reputed hideout of renowned pirate, Blackbeard. But these two coastal areas were threatened by shoreline erosion.
Two local fishermen, James Barrie Gaskill and Gene Ballance have been key to halting the erosion by restoring oyster habitat to Beacon Island and Springer’s Point. Together, they created thousands of bags of recycled oyster shells that they then used to build sills that buffer the shorelines at Beacon Island and at Springer’s Point. While helping to protect the islands from erosion, this living shoreline is also providing valuable habitat and improving water quality.
But James Barrie’s and Gene’s contribution is not all brawn and muscle. For many years, their knowledge of the water, local fishing history and maritime skills have significantly advanced oyster restoration efforts throughout North Carolina. These incredible commercial fishermen are key members of the Ocracoke Working Watermen’s Association and the Ocracoke Preservation Society, and were part of the team that devised a plan to save these areas.
For Researching and Implementing Low Impact Development and Green Building Practices
Sloan and Chris Freeman have lived in Carteret County since 1999. Prior to founding Geodynamics in 2001, they both worked in the marine science community, mostly on the North Carolina coast. Their personal interest in marine geology, environmental science and policy, as well as improving a coast that they love, inspired the idea of Geodynamics, a coastal data acquisition and analysis company.
A few years ago, Chris and Sloan contacted federation staff to get input on best management practices (BMPs) techniques that could be incorporated into the design of their new Morehead City office. After meeting with the staff, they designed Geodynamics’ new offices with the environment as a priority. Elements included green building features like geothermal heating/cooling, extra insulation for energy efficiency, energy efficient light fixtures, plumbing for rainwater toilet flushing, Low Impact Development of parking areas, and low-VOC paint and flooring materials.
Sloan, Chris and their employees wanted to demonstrate sound development practices. With the opening of Geodynamics in 2012 they are providing a model for green practices and LID.
J. Barber Enterprises, LLC.
For Outstanding Contributions to Coastal Habitat Restoration
It is rare to find contractors who not only do an exceptional job on time, but who also understand the importance of their work to improving coastal water quality and habitat. Jason and Wayne Barber from J. Barber Enterprises, LLC out of Raleigh and Swansboro are this unique type of contractor.
Since 2010, they have donated their time and resources to help the federation to complete various stormwater retrofit projects along the central coast of North Carolina – projects that would not have happened because of limited budgets. This father and son team has constructed six rain gardens at Queens Creek and Swansboro Elementary Schools, Tiller School and the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum, two bioretention areas at the Croatan National Forest Recreation Area at Cedar Point and at Dudley’s Marina and a stormwater wetland at Western Park.
These projects not only reduce stormwater in the communities, but serve as living examples of what other property owners can do to improve our coast.
For Enthusiastic Student Engagement in Coastal Environmental Education
Remember a great teacher you had growing up? Good teachers often remain in our memories, long after we finish his or her class. Most likely Dana Edgren will be a great memory for White Oak Elementary School students.
Dana knows that hands-on activities and partnerships benefit students of all ages. The federation staff has been working with the third grade teacher in Cape Carteret since 2007 to integrate school rain gardens into her teaching curriculum. Last year a working greenhouse was built on school property. Dana worked to get solar panels for the greenhouse, rallied other teachers to install composters and rain barrels, and engaged students in growing native plants in the greenhouse for the rain gardens. The students also led school-wide tours of the rain garden, created nametags for the plants, and customized the greenhouse with flowers, work tables and signs. Dana wanted to teach her students about native plants, but also wanted to teach adults so she recruited other teachers and parents to help replant the garden, spread mulch and work in the greenhouse.
Students who enjoy quality experiences in their outdoor classroom may grow up to be developers, teachers, bankers and community leaders. They will make important decisions for our coast. Armed with an understanding of our vital and fragile coastal environment, they will be better decision-makers. And we will have a teacher to thank.
For Extraordinary Commitment to the Stop Titan Action Network
Cliff Cash has been fighting Titan since day one. More than five years ago, a few neighbors came together and launched Stop Titan Action Network, after hearing the news that Titan Cement wanted to build a mega cement plant near their homes and families in New Hanover County. When this daunting news trickled down to the community, we suspect that Cliff cracked jokes about the seemingly ridiculous notion that our elected officials would offer up millions of dollars to a foreign company to build a huge polluting industry right on the Northeast Cape Fear River, just a few miles away from the newest public elementary and middle school.
Fighting a corporate giant is no laughing matter but sometimes a good laugh is just what you need. Cliff is a comedian by night, but by day he owns a small recycling company called Green Coast Recycling. His small but efficient company keeps 100 tons of recyclable waste out of the New Hanover County landfill. Over the years, Cliff has used his local ‘green business’ to support the fight against Titan. He has offered cost breaks on large scale ads on his company’s recycling truck and hosted several fundraisers. Last year Cliff put together a scrap metal drive with all the money going to Stop Titan’s statewide essay contest.
As a small business owner working hard toward a sustainable, healthy community, Cliff adds a strong punch (and an occasional chuckle) to our fight against a dirty industry.
Winding River Plantation Property Owners Association
For Developing Model Community Landscaping Guidelines That Promote Environmentally Friendly Yards
Many people retire to our coast to kick back, relax and enjoy the beautiful environment- as they should. Others retire here and work diligently to keep our coast healthy. That’s just what members of the Winding River Association in Brunswick County are doing. They recently adopted a set of landscaping guidelines that promote native plants, rain gardens and rain barrels within their community.
Winding River residents Rich Peruggi and Pam Duncan spearheaded the creation of the environmentally friendly guidelines. Pam says she got the idea from working with the federation. Pam first volunteered to build a rain garden at the Government Center in Bolivia and could see how Winding River Plantation could benefit from such techniques. Later she worked with federation board member Rich Peruggi, volunteers and federation staff to create two demonstration rain gardens within Winding River.
Pam then joined the Architectural Review Board of Winding River and volunteered to help update their Design Guidelines. Pam notes how it was “timely to highlight the Low Impact Development ideas and actively engage our builders and homeowners in protecting our coastal environment.” The federation is using them as a model for other coastal developments.
For Exceptional Dedication and Leadership in Coastal Environmental Education
When you walk into Sandie Cecelski’s classroom at E.H. Ashley High School in New Hanover County, you are amazed by the aquariums full of creatures, field boots and gear, a clear sign that Sandie’s classroom is not your ordinary classroom. Having taught for 25 years, holding a Masters of Marine Science in Education and being a National Board Certified Marine Science Teacher give Sandie great skills, but her enthusiasm and dedication are what make her an outstanding educator.
Sandie stresses the importance of linking classroom learning with getting students out in the marshes, creeks and ocean where they can use their knowledge. She has worked with the federation to engage students in oyster and salt marsh habitat restoration and water quality protection projects. Working with other teachers and New Hanover County Schools she developed and launched Students Restoring Community Creeks, a stormwater education program. The program connects 9th grade Earth and Environmental Science students to the health of their local waterways, and engages them in service learning projects to reroute downspouts on houses to direct stormwater away from creeks. Sandie is also working with the county to launch a new Marine Science Academy. Students will take college-level marine science coursework, hold internships, participate in a research cruise, and complete a graduation project.
Sandie describes her motivation best by saying, “My goal is to develop highly trained individuals to fill my mud waders”.
Bob High Brand Manager Natty Greene’s Brewing Company
For Remarkable Community Engagement, Promotion and Organizational Support
North Carolina became home for Bob High in 1994 and he quickly became a regular at the Outer Banks and its world class beaches. Bob loves the water and understands that the things he enjoys most depend on good water quality- fishing, kayaking, surfing, and yes, craft beer. You see, clean water is essential to making craft beer and beer is what Natty Greene’s does best.
As brand manager at Natty Greene’s, Bob looks for opportunities to pair events with causes that are important and meaningful to him- athletic events, outdoor adventure, music festivals, and most anything coastal. He met up with the federation about ten years ago and has been looking for ways to help ever since.
In the past year alone, Bob has hosted or helped to organize multiple fundraisers for the federation in all three coastal regions. These events have included Cycling for the Coast, Manteo’s annual Fish Fry and Shrimp Boil, a retreat at Ocracoke, a seafood festival in Raleigh, a workshop in Wilmington and several events held at the Raleigh Natty Greene’s. His special event expertise and enthusiasm for the coast have helped to expand the visibility of the federation beyond the coast and throughout the state. And to that we say, “Cheers, Bob High. “
Withers & Ravenel
For Innovation and Promotion of Low Impact Development
For decades Withers & Ravenel and the federation existed on parallel paths, and in some instances likely supported opposing views on coastal land development. But today, the two groups work hand in hand to enthusiastically promote the use of Low Impact Development.
It all started around 2007, when Low Impact Development, or LID, expert Larry Coffman encouraged the federation to contract with Withers & Ravenel to develop a standardized stormwater design and permitting tool called LID-EZ. LID-EZ makes using LID stormwater management approaches such as infiltration, bioretention and permeable paving easier for developers who are used to collecting and conveying large amounts of polluted stormwater into stormwater ponds.
LID EZ was first developed for the southeast coast. The tool caught the eye of the state Division of Water Quality and now, Withers & Ravenel is creating a new LID-EZ that can be used by developers and engineers statewide. It’s a huge step in the advancement of LID for smarter stormwater management.
In addition to LID-EZ, Withers & Ravenel has partnered with the federation to develop watershed restoration plans, LID manuals for local governments, and to design and install rain gardens and stormwater wetlands.
They have also been featured presenters at multiple workshops organized by the federation for development professionals, educating them about the value and use of LID and the LID-EZ permitting tool.
For Lifetime Achievement and Commitment to the Protection and Restoration of North Carolina’s Coastal Habitats and Water Quality
In 1987 Lena Ritter received the first Nancy Susan Reynolds Award for extraordinary leadership at the grassroots level from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. Standing before nearly 500 people at a dinner in Raleigh, the award was presented to her by N.C. Governor Jim Martin and Smith Bagley, president of the foundation. It was in recognition for her successful five year battle to save oysters and clams in Stump Sound in Onslow County from polluted stormwater runoff.
And in characteristic fashion while she still had everyone’s attention, that night at center stage she successfully extracted a highly public promise from the Governor that he would reappoint a well-known coastal environmental expert, Dr. Richard T. Barber, for another six-year term to the N.C. Environmental Management Commission. Land development interests that opposed tighter coastal stormwater regulations were contesting Barber’s reappointment at the time.
Lena first formed an alliance with the federation in 1983 that connected grassroots communities with the federation’s coastal management expertise. She enabled the federation to work with hundreds of local fishermen and their families, and bring a human face to environmental protection along the N.C. coast. Her work helped N.C. to permanently protect the 50-acre Permuda Island in the middle of Stump Sound and its oyster beds from being developed with 350 condominiums and a large marina. Even more importantly, it lead to the adoption of more effective coastal management rules to prevent polluted runoff and inappropriately sited marinas in all 20 coastal counties. She also focused statewide and national media attention on the need to protect and restore our coastal resources to maintain traditional coastal communities.
Lena served on the federation’s board of directors, as our President, and later as a staff member. After she retired, she did not sit back and let oysters grow between her feet. She saw a need to protect public access to Stump Sound at Morris Landing near Holly Ridge, and worked with the federation so that it was able to buy and preserve 52-acres that now provides a waterfront park for the Town, and as an oyster shell stockpile and barge loading site for the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries oyster restoration programs.
Over the years, Lena traveled with the federation to visit coasts around the nation, so as to learn about their challenges. She saw few coasts that were as clean, healthy and productive as Stump Sound and the N.C. coast. Those travels resulted in Lena’s often-repeated vision for our coast: “I want you to be able to catch fish, and eat them too.”
Perhaps the next time we enjoy a mess of fish, oysters or clams, we’ll remember that we do so because of people like Lena.