Carolina Wetlands Association, North Carolina State University, and RTI International launch citizen/volunteer wetlands monitoring program

Raleigh, North Carolina – The Carolina Wetlands Association has begun rebuilding one of the best wetland monitoring programs in the United States with the help of Wildnote, a cloud-based data management and reporting platform that supports wetland professionals in determining wetland health. If successful, this approach can serve as a model for creating wetland monitoring programs that can enjoy stability and continuity throughout changing administrations and funding priorities.

Over the last few months volunteers diverse in age, background, and experience have been recruited and trained in data collection and sampling procedures. Wetland sites for the pilot program have been selected and include Robertson Mill Pond, Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve, and Mason Trail Biological Reserve.  Volunteers led by experts kicked off in-person training on February 5 at Robertson Mill Pond learning about water monitoring procedures and how to find, observe, and record amphibians in the area.

“We are taking small steps to get the program going in the right direction. A team of experienced principal investigators from the Association, NCSU, and RTI International will manage the data collection process, assist volunteers, and analyze the data collected by the volunteers.” – Rick Savage, Executive Director- Carolina Wetlands Association.

Wildnote will map, photograph, and record data for plant communities and invasive species occurrences. Designed to keep data attached to photos, Wildnote eliminates the need to format, label, email, or otherwise manipulate photos for reports. The time saved will allow volunteers to work effectively and efficiently. The technology will serve as a guardrail to help non-professionals meet professional standards in a complex setting.

“In developing the monitoring program, we had been trying to determine how to make data collection easier for volunteers and ensure collection of good-quality data. The Wildnote platform will help us achieve both goals.” – Rick Savage, Executive Director- Carolina Wetlands Association.

Fieldwork started in March to collect water quality samples, record hydrology data, and conduct amphibian surveys.

Find out more about the Carolina Wetlands Monitoring Program here: Pilot Volunteer Wetlands Monitoring Program | (carolinawetlands.org)

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