Water & Land Solutions

At WLS We Love Our Dogs! Happy National Puppy Day!

Happy National Puppy Day! Here at WLS we love our furry friends, especially when they come visit our office :)

WLS Celebrates Its 2 Year Anniversary!

This past weekend the WLS staff celebrated its 2 year anniversary.  What better way to celebrate than an N.C. State football tailgate with smoked barbeque! (Thanks Adam it was very yummy!)  It was a great day surrounded by family and friends.  Thanks to everyone who helped out during our celebration!

Ticks…What you need to know!

Facts about ticks that you should know to keep yourself protected.

  • Ticks Crawl Up
    • They do not fly, or jump, they crawl up.  They can also fall down from trees onto your head and back.  Ticks are programed to attach themselves around your ears and head because the skin is thinner in this area.
  • They Come In All Different Sizes
    • Ticks can be small, medium, or larger.  They hatch from eggs and grow through three stages.  First: larvae where they are the size of sand grains. Second: nymphs where they are the size of poppy seeds.  Third: Adults where they are the size of apple seeds. 
  • Ticks Are Active In The Winter!
    • Most people don’t know that adult stage deer ticks become active after the first frost!  Any day that the ground is not frozen or snow covered ticks are active.
  • They Carry Diseases…
    • Diseases that ticks carry are ever increasing.  Some diseases that are transmitted are Lymes disease bacteria, Babesia protozoa, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, encephalitis causing virus, and Bartonella bacteria. 
    • For most tick borne disease you have at least 24 hours to remove the feeding tick before it transmits any diseases.
  • Only Deer Ticks Transmit Lyme Disease
    • If you do find a tick on your body, it is a smart idea to save the tick until you can identify it.  This could save you from going on unnecessary doctor’s visits.
  • Remove Ticks With Pointy Tweezers
    • Use very pointy tweezers to pull the tick out of your skin.  Get as close to your skin with the tweezers as possible before pulling it out (just like pulling out a splinter). Remember to save the tick until the type is identified!
  • Buy Clothing That Has Built-In Tick Repellent
    • An easy way to avoid tick bites is to wear clothing that has permethrin tick repellent built-in. Or you can buy the spray and pre-treat your clothes yourself.  You can also use repellent that contains 20-30% DEET.
Pictured above is a deer tick.  Photo from:  www.orkin.com

Pictured above is a deer tick.

Photo from: www.orkin.com


Live Stakes

What are they and what species can we use?

Live stakes are an inexpensive and simple technique used to restore eroding stream banks.  If a stream bank is left bare without a strong root mass in the soil it will keep eroding.  This leads to sediment pollution in the water, and loss of land as more of the stream bank erodes.  A solution to these issues is to restore the riparian buffer (Riparian buffers are vegetated areas next to water resources that protect water resources from nonpoint source pollution and provide bank stabilization and aquatic and wildlife habitat).  Live staking is a practice that introduces plant life directly to the areas that need it along the bank.  It is a low cost solution that can easily be done by anyone on their property. Live stakes are stem cuttings from a tree taken during the trees dormant season.  The stakes, once planted will grow into new trees along the stream bank.

Harvesting Live Stakes

You can buy live stakes from a local nursery, or you can harvest them directly from trees that are already on your property!  Species that do particularly well as live stakes are Poplars, Willows, Elderberry, and Dogwoods.  You want to cut stakes that are ½ to 1½ inches in diameter and 2-3 feet in length.  The bottom of the stake should be cut at an angle to form a point and then placed in water to prevent it from drying out. It is best to plant the stakes soon after harvesting.  When planting make sure the stakes are placed 2-3 feet apart in rows along the stream bank, insert the stake into the ground at a 90 degree angle.  During the first growing season you may see some leaf growth, but root growth is more important in the first year.  Gently tug on a few stakes in the fall to determine how successful your plantings were.  If some of your plantings didn't make it you can always plant more!


 

Cypress Knees

All you need to know about Bald Cypress Trees (Taxodium distichum)

Have you ever wondered why they are called “Bald” Cypress trees? Well these trees are deciduous conifers and shed their needle like leaves in the fall, they get the name bald cypress because they drop their leaves so early in the fall season.  Yet the feature that bald cypresses are most know for is their knees.  The technical name for the knees is pneumatophore which means air bearing.  The pneumatophore grow from horizontal roots that are just below the surface and protrude up through the water or ground. Bald cypress trees are very well adapted to wet condition and typically live alongside riverbanks and swamps.  Since these trees grown in swampy conditions it is thought that the knee’s functions is to transport air to the drowned roots underground.

Fun Facts:

  • These trees can grow up to 120ft tall with a trunk that is 3 to 6 feet in diameter.
  • They are very slow growing trees and reach up to 600 years old.
  • Bald cypress trees are a native southeastern species.
  • The seeds are eaten by wild turkey, wood ducks, evening grosbeak, water birds, and squirrels, the rest of the seeds are dispersed by floodwaters.
  • The state tree of Louisiana is a Bald cypress.
  • These trees are valued for their rot-resistant heartwood.
This is a typical habitat for Bald cypress trees.

This is a typical habitat for Bald cypress trees.

In the photo above the Pneumatophores "knees" are shown coming up out of the water.

In the photo above the Pneumatophores "knees" are shown coming up out of the water.


Environmental Education

East Chapel Hill High School

For the past two weeks we have been working on designing environmental education signs for a local high school.  The students and teachers of East Chapel Hill High School planed a landscape restoration project on their school grounds.  The goal of the project was to plant native pollinators as well as native wetland plants.  The educational signs will serve as a way to make the newly planted landscape a great educational resource for the school and for the community as well!

This past weekend members of the WLS team helped install the signs, and we are happy to announce they and the landscape look great! There are three signs which display information about Native Pollinators, Problems Pollinators Face, and Wetlands.  We are very excited to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony coming up in the next week!


Happy Earth Day!

Here are some facts you might not know about Earth Day...  

1. The first Earth Day was on April 22, 1970.  Earth Day originated in the U.S. but became recognized worldwide by 1990.

2. Earth day got its start after Sen. Gaylord Nelson visited a site of an oil spill near Santa Barbara in 1969.  He wanted to find a way to mobilize a grassroots movement to raise awareness of environmental issues.

3. Today Earth Day is usually associated with small-scale tree plantings and volunteer cleanup projects, but the first Earth Day had its sights on bigger political change.

4. Earth Day demonstrations contributed to creating public support and lead to the formation of the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) as well as the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered species acts.  

5. This year more than 1 billion people are expected to participate in Earth Day events in 192 countries.


What is a Head Cut?

A head cut is a physical feature found in a stream.  It is an erosional feature found in both intermittent (flows only part of the year) and perennial (flows continuously all year) streams.  A head cut occurs where there is an abrupt vertical drop in the streambed.  They usually begin at a knickpoint (sharp change in channel slope) which can be as subtle as an over-steepened riffle or as obvious as a waterfall.  At the base of a head cut a small plunge pool is usually found, caused by the high energy of falling water. As the streambed erodes and lowers the knickpoint the active head cut will migrate upstream.  This is a problem because when a head cut moves up a stream it causes channel incision (the channel bed lowering or down cutting).  This causes the stream to lose access to its floodplain.  Which causes the stream channel to erode even faster because the waters energy is not being dispersed over the floodplain.  The eroding banks lead to trees falling into the stream, therefore causing more erosion.  

The past week on one of our project sites we saw a great example of a head cut.  Below is a picture of the head cut which can be see with a waterfall flowing over the roots of a tree into a pool at the bottom.  Also included is a picture of upstream of the head cut where you can see the stream is in fairly good shape and a picture downstream of the head cut where you can see severe eroding and several trees which are nearly falling in. 


Problems Pollinators Are Facing

How Can You Help?!

Our Bees and other insect pollinators are facing many environmental challenges.  These include habitat loss, degradation, fragmentation, as well as competition from non-native species, diseases, pollution, and climate change.  Most pollinator habitats have been lost to agriculture, and urban and suburban development. Pesticides are a major threat, especially ones with chemicals that remain in the environment for a long time before degrading.  

You can help by planting a pollinator garden!

The biggest need pollinating species have is that they require a diverse source of nectar and pollen throughout the growing season.  When planting your own pollinator garden you want to plant in clumps to better attract the pollinators. It is important to choose plants with a variety of colors that also flower at different time of the year. Finally, try to plant native plants when possible, these native plants will attract more native pollinators and will serve as larval host plants, therefore bringing even more pollinators to the area.  To find pollinator plants that are native to your area check out the NAPPC’s Ecoregional Planting Guides http://www.pollinator.org/guides.htm

Daffodils - Genus: Narcissus

Daffodils - Genus: Narcissus


What is a Crayfish Mud Chimney?

This past week a few WLS staff members conducted various field work in Texas.  Throughout the trip we stumbled upon several Crayfish Chimneys. What are Crayfish chimneys you might ask? They are small mounds of dirt that Crayfish pile up while making tunnels. Crayfish are an aquatic species, but there are a few burrowing or terrestrial species. These burrowing crayfish use gills to extract oxygen from water, yet they spend most of their lives on land.  They dig burrows down to ground water in order to have a source of oxygen. This is why they are found around poorly drained soils near streams. When constructing their tunnels they throw mud around the exit hole.  A chimney can range anywhere from 3 to 8 inches.  Crayfish play an important role in our aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, they are a source of food for many animals as well as consumers of plant and animal material. 


Happy Thanksgiving from WLS

We hope that you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


At WLS we are thankful for many things...Here's What We Are Thankful For In The ENVIRONMENT!

Catherine:

1. The shade of a tree in the summer heat

2. Rivers to kayak on

3. The Blue Ridge Mountain air

Jon:

1. Trout fishing in the Blue Ridge Mountains

2. The sound of a Ruffed Grouse calling for a mate

3. Hardwood Forests

Scott:

1. Brilliant winter sunrises and Topsail Island sunsets

2. Spring-time turkey gobbles thundering across a bottomland hardwood.

3. The privilege of watching a beaver pond “wake up” in the morning

Kayne:

1. Tundra swans landing on Lake Mattamuskeet during a cold winter morning

2. The roar of thundersnow followed by stillness of champagne powder

3. Drake hatch on the Fryingpan River

Adam:

1. Sunrises at the Shuckstack in the Smokies

2. Summer storms rolling in over the ocean

3. The sound, smell, and feel of a newly restored ecosystem teeming with new wildlife

Ashley:

1. Local nature preserves that allow me to escape the city for a moment

2. Healthy watersheds that provide clean water and habitat for people and wildlife alike

3. To have been born in and to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth: the Piedmont ofNorth Carolina.


Look at All Those BENTHIC MACROINVERTEBRATES!

Monteith Monitoring Report


Water & Land Solutions is in its second year of monitoring one of the most unique mitigation banks in the industry which is located north of Charlotte, North Carolina.  This past week WLS team members finished collecting data needed to complete the 2016 Monitoring Report.  We are happy to announce that the project is looking great!  We found great diversity and quantities of various benthic macroinvertebrates (small animals living among stones, logs, sediments and aquatic plants on the bottom of streams, rivers, and lakes).  These “benthics” indicate the stream is on its way to becoming a healthy and vibrant ecosystem! Some organisms that we discovered included crayfish, salamanders, mayflies, caddisfly, and a damselfly.  Considering that benthic surveys of the stream prior to construction indicated no presence of any of these benthics, this is a great example of success in a short timeframe!  It’s great to see that our hard work pays off by creating great habitats for these key species.

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	mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}    Pictured above is a Damselfly.  These insects are very similar to dragonflies, but have slimmer bodies.  The pictured Damselfly is in the nymph stage, which live in a variety of freshwater habitats.     
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Pictured above is a Damselfly.  These insects are very similar to dragonflies, but have slimmer bodies.  The pictured Damselfly is in the nymph stage, which live in a variety of freshwater habitats.

Pictured above is Salamander. It is an amphibian, typically characterized by its lizard like appearance. They have permeable skin which makes them reliant on habitats that are in or around water.

Pictured above is Salamander. It is an amphibian, typically characterized by its lizard like appearance. They have permeable skin which makes them reliant on habitats that are in or around water.