Morris Landing

A large group of volunteers joined North Carolina Coastal Federation staff at Morris Landing Clean Water Preserve in Holly Ridge on May 17 for marsh grass planting, monitoring and oyster bagging.

The 50 volunteers that joined the federation for the planting at Morris Landing.

The event brought in 50 volunteers, including 21 students from Eugene Ashley High School’s Marine Science Academy, the Green Team at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort and frequent volunteers from the surrounding community.

The 52-acre preserve, which has more than 3,000 feet of shoreline, is located near shellfish growing areas of the Stump Sound and is a prominent site for the federation’s oyster restoration efforts. The preserve also serves as a recreational site.

Since 2005, the federation has partnered with various groups to complete living shorelines at the site. The most recent phase — the construction of a 310-foot living shoreline — was completed in July 2016.

For the first part of the day, volunteers split into groups to plant marsh grass. Some staff and volunteers also helped install oyster cages.

“We submerge these cages or install them into the reef, and then we will come back in a few weeks to check for spat ­and other wildlife,” said Nina Quaratella, AmeriCorps member for the federation’s Wrightsville Beach office.

The salt marsh grass is planted at low tide using dibblers.

Twenty-one students from the Marine Science Academy program at Ashley High School in Wilmington were among the volunteers. Sandie Cecelski, board member for the federation, leads this program. In addition to helping with planting, the students also performed water quality monitoring and also pulled seine nets through the sound.

“We just finished a unit on estuaries in intertidal communities,” she said. “They’re actually applying things they’ve already been doing in class.”

Volunteers from the community also joined. Anne Terry, who is a member of the federation and a frequent volunteer, helped out with the planting and did marsh grass data monitoring in the afternoon.

Terry has also volunteered at two similar plantings at Carolina Beach State Park. She said she likes going back to sites she’s helped with to see how the plants are protecting the shoreline now.

“It just gives me great pride to go out there and say, ‘I helped with that two times,’” Terry said.

For more information about Morris Landing, please visit There will be two upcoming opportunities to plant salt marsh grasses at Morris Landing on June 28 and July 27 – visit to register.

Trinity Center

Thirty-three volunteers, including volunteers from the federation, the North Carolina Aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores, Leadership Carteret, Big Rock Sports and High Point Friends School put on gloves and grabbed their dibblers to plant 2,150 plugs of marsh grass for the living shoreline at Trinity Center on May 16 and 17.

The Trinity Center group brought in a variety of volunteers from the aquarium, Big Rock Sports and Leadership Carteret.

For the past few years, the federation has partnered with Trinity Center and Sound to Sea staff to build living shorelines at the center’s property on Bogue Sound. These shorelines help decrease erosion, restore habitat and improve water quality. This project is funded by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The aquarium partners with the federation for various restoration events in the area. Windy Arey Kent, the aquarium’s education curator, said the federation’s work aligns with the mission of the North Carolina aquariums.

“The power is in the collaborative efforts and getting more people than ever before engaged in conservation action so that we can protect our extremely valuable natural resources for future generations,” Arey Kent said.

Volunteers from Big Rock Sports frequently join the federation for these volunteer events. Shannon Adams, director of information technology for Big Rock Sports, said the federation’s work lines up with the core values of Big Rock Sports. He reached out to the federation for the opportunity to send volunteers to marsh toe revetments.

“We have encouraged our employees to give back to our communities through a day of service by volunteering with the federation — one group of 8-10 periodically over the past year,” Adams said. “I am very proud that we have had around 40 employees volunteer so far and the partnership will surely continue.”

Adams said after these volunteer events, employees become even more passionate about protecting the coast.

Check out this recap video starring Rachel Bisesi, coastal education coordinator for the federation.

North River Wetlands Preserve

Nine students from Ohio State University and 24 community volunteers joined the Ocean staff for a salt marsh planting at North River Wetlands Preserve on May 10.

The group took a hay wagon out to Williston Creek, where they planted 2,582 plugs of marsh grass. Contractors planted 20,268 plugs of marsh grass earlier in the week but then community members came out to help complete the planting.

Williston Creek is the site of the most recent restoration project at the preserve. The project will restore and create approximately 8.8 acres of salt marsh and 3,500 linear feet of tidal creek.

North River Wetlands Preserve, formerly known as North River Farms or Smyrna Farms, is a 6,000-acre property located in Carteret County that the federation has been working to restore back to wetlands since 1999. Returning the farmland back to its original state will work to improve the water quality of downstream estuaries, open up shellfishing waters and filter polluted stormwater from an adjacent farm.

This phase of the project was designed by Kris Bass Engineering and is being constructed by Carteret Land Development, LLC. Salt marsh plants were purchased from Lumber River Native Plants, and planted by Carolina Silvics, Inc.

Rachel Bisesi, coastal education coordinator for the federation, was excited about all of the turnout for the marsh plantings at both Trinity Center and North River Wetlands Preserve.

“The community involvement for these plantings was amazing. We love working alongside the different community groups and volunteers. Their commitment and dedication in keeping our coast clean and healthy is really inspiring,” Bisesi said.

For more information about the work at Trinity Center and North River Wetlands Preserve, contact Rachel Bisesi at 252-393-8185. Check out this video from the day, starring Bisesi and Sam Bland, coastal specialist for the federation.