Urban Growth and Flood Resiliency: Navigating Environmental and Social Challenges in Urban Settings

Wildlands is embarking on a series of Flood Resilience articles that delve into flood-resilient projects’ social and environmental challenges and opportunities. This article specifically focuses on urban landscapes, the backdrop for some of our society’s most pressing challenges and promising opportunities.

With all the benefits of urban development, there are various environmental and infrastructure management challenges, intermingled with social challenges that all present as important considerations in our environmental restoration, recreational, and community enhancement work. They range from increased risk of flooding to impacts on water quality and aquatic habitat degradation and displacement. However, as cities continue to expand and redevelop, the need for effective flood mitigation, water quality, and ecological restoration solutions to manage these development impacts is gaining an increasing amount of recognition. These solutions, when implemented, can bring about a positive change, improving the environment and our quality of life, instilling hope for a more resilient and sustainable future.READ MORE

Stewardship Corner | Mosses, Liverworts, and Lichen

From the Stewardship Corner | Mosses, Liverworts, and Lichen

An often-overshadowed part of the plant kingdom, mosses, liverworts, and hornworts, make up a small world of their own in ecological communities. Often found growing on stones, stumps, and moist shady corners, these organisms play a quiet but vital role in initiating soil formation, slowing water passage, and recycling nutrients. They also provide habitat for macroinvertebrates, and for them, a mossy mat might feel like a fully grown forest. Unlike other plants, these green fuzzy mats do not form vascular systems that can move nutrients and water throughout their bodies, they instead rely on water and nutrients to come to them. This is why you often find them growing in wet, damp, low lying areas where water and moisture can find them.

Like ferns – mosses, liverworts, and hornworts do not produce flowers or seeds, and instead reproduce through spores. Because of their simpler requirements, these plants can grow where nothing else can, and often act as a pioneer species setting the stage for ecological succession. Their spores can travel miles before landing and spread by the millions. They are also a great indicator of air quality due to their sensitive nature, a welcoming sign while on a walk in the woods.

Lichen is another great indicator of air quality, and although they might look similar and grow alongside their counterparts, lichen is a wholly different form of fascinating life. Lichen is the result of a mutualistic relationship between algae and fungi. While they are not a plant, they still perform photosynthesis as a composite organism. Small but mighty, these species are considered to be keystone species in many ecological communities. How many different species of mosses, liverworts, hornworts, and lichen have you come across recently?

Pictured from Wildlands project sites:

  1. Tortula Moss (Tortula muralis) – Honey Mill Mitigation Site, Surry County, NC
  2. Delicate Fern Moss (Thuidium delicatulum) – Key Mill Mitigation Site, Surry County, NC
  3. Star Moss (Syntrichia ruralis) – Alexander Farm Mitigation Site, Alexander County, NC
  4. Broom Forkmoss (Dicranum scoparium) – Honey Mill Mitigation Site, Surry County, NC
  5. Medusa Moss (Hedwigia ciliata) – Carpenter Bottom Mitigation Site, Gaston County, NC
  6. Great Scented Liverwort (Conocephalum conicum) – Carpenter Bottom Mitigation Site, Gaston County, NC
  7. Lichen (Parmeliaceae) – Lone Hickory Mitigation Site, Yadkin County, NC

📸 Photos by Dominic Dixon, Stewardship Associate | Charlotte, NC Office

  • Tortula Moss (Tortula muralis) – Honey Mill Mitigation Site, Surry County, NC

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From the Stewardship Corner: Adaptations of Aquatic Plants

What’s so special about aquatic plants? They provide vertical structure and habitat for animals in water systems, as well as trap sediments, slow the velocity of water, and even absorb pollutants such as heavy metals and nutrient run-off. Aquatic plants, aka hydrophytes, have several unique adaptations to help them survive in the water. Photos 1: Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) at Falling Creek Mitigation Site, North Carolina; Photo 2: Soft-stemmed bulrush (Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani) at Marylea Farm Mitigation Site, Maryland


Emergent plants are rooted in water and partially grow above the water surface. Broadleaf watermilfoil has two shapes of leaves. The above-water leaves are triangular, bright green, and produce axillary flowers. The filamentous form of the submerged leaves are excellent at catching fine sediment and they bear a reproductive structure called a turion. Photo 3 & 4: Broadleaf watermilfoil (Myriophyllum heterophyllum) at Dudley Mill Pond Mitigation Site, North Carolina


Submerged plants are rooted into aquatic substrate or without a root system. They regrow from buds below the water surface. Spongy tissues provide structure and buoyancy while in the water. A submerged aquatic plant quickly becomes limp outside of water. Quick tip: if you’re trying to identify an aquatic plant, it helps to keep it in a dish of water.


Floating-leaved plants are rooted into aquatic substrate with leaves that float on the water surface. The American white water-lily (Nymphea odorata) leaves are covered by a waxy cuticle that repels water. This prevents the leaves from rotting. Photo 5 & 6: American Water-Lily (Nymphaea odorata) at Dudley Mill Pond Mitigation Site, North Carolina


Free-floating plants are found suspended on water surface with no roots attached. Swollen bladderwort (Utricularia inflata) has a whorl of leaf structures called “rafts” that look and float like pool noodles! Photo 7: Swollen bladderwort at Dudley Mill Pond Mitigation Site, North Carolina


  • Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) at Falling Creek Mitigation Site

A glimpse into working at Wildlands Engineering

Take an inside look at what it’s like to work at Wildlands Engineering! One of our environmental scientists, George R. DeCarvalho, shares the key aspects of his job that make each day more fulfilling and valuable.


Wildlands’ purpose is to make an impact on the environment. We do this by forming a team of driven, like-minded individuals who are passionate about restoring the environment – all while inspiring their teammates along the way.


Interested in joining our team? Check out our current job openings »


Working at Wildlands Engineering from Wildlands Engineering on Vimeo.

Wildlands Engineering Makes an Impact in the Neuse River Basin – Home of the River of the Year

American Rivers recently named the Neuse River the 2022 “River of the Year because of “outstanding progress toward a cleaner, healthier Neuse River.” Momentum has been building to improve the ecological condition of the entire Neuse River basin and Wildlands is honored to be an ongoing part of it. Since 2007, Wildlands has restored over 164,600 LF of stream and 93 of wetlands, just in the Neuse River basin. Wildlands has also completed four large-scale watershed studies that total over 700 square miles. Additionally, Wildlands also owns, manages, and operates 22 private mitigation bank sites located in the Neuse River basin. Each mitigation bank was established by restoring and enhancing degraded streams, wetlands, and riparian buffers located on private property.

This experience has allowed our team to understand the challenges and opportunities that waterways present to the local communities. Furthermore, we understand the importance of healthy natural systems to these communities. We are constantly developing unique solutions for ecological restoration to improve the environment and preserve the natural corridors that make this area of the state unique.

Located in the heart of the Neuse River basin is Wildlands’ Raleigh office. This is our second largest office with a full-service staff of project managers, professional engineers, field-oriented environmental scientists, ecologists, construction managers, GIS analysts, CAD operators, and administrative staff. With approximately 30 staff members that call this river basin home, we are dedicated to further enhancing the ecological and civic value of this well-loved watershed.

Wildlands has partnered with organizations such as NC Division of Mitigation Services, City of Raleigh, City of Durham, and Johnston County to improve the health of the Neuse River basin. The following map shows Wildlands’ projects in the Neuse River basin.


Wildlands Engineering is Well-Versed in Helping Clients Fund Projects With Grants

“Wildlands’ experience and technical expertise was invaluable to Catawba Land Conservancy’s 2020 NCLWF restoration grant application. Wildlands worked with us to develop the site vision and communicated the existing site deficiencies, design, and ecological gains in a clear, concise application that resulted in the award of funds.”

Sean Bloom, Biologist and GIS Director | Catawba Lands Conservancy


As a vertically integrated ecological restoration firm, our municipal clients often call upon us to assist in securing critical project funding by identifying applicable grants, grant application writing, conceptual design creation, and developing funding strategies to leverage multiple funding sources. Wildlands has a successful track record of applying for, receiving, and implementing water resource grants for municipalities, recently including City of Charlotte, Hendersonville, Black Mountain, Morganton, and Woodfin, NC; Greenville, SC; and for non-profits, such as MountainTrue, RiverLink, Mainspring Conservation Trust, and the Catawba Lands Conservancy. These grants have included the NC Land and Water Fund (LWF), EPA Section 319, the Environmental Enhancement Grant (EEG), DWR’s Water Resources Development Grant (WRG), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Grants, Section 205j, and other public and private grant funding sources. Wildlands has also assisted with non-grant funding programs like the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), which is a low-interest loan available to local governments. READ MORE

Spring has sprung, including unwanted invasive plants!

Invasive plant species pose a serious threat to native riparian plant communities. Furthermore, some invasive plants, such as autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), fix atmospheric nitrogen and release it into the soil where it readily leaches into waterbodies. Many invasive plant populations can be found in riparian buffers throughout North Carolina. Invasive plant populations can often be successfully controlled using a variety of mechanical & chemical techniques. Large advances in native plant community success can typically be made in one to two years of invasive plant control efforts. Wildlands’ Land Stewardship Team has the skills and knowledge to identify and safely treat invasive species around aquatic environments.

While woody invasive species are best treated in the fall when they send nutrients to their roots to prepare for winter, herbaceous plants are best treated during the growing season before they set seed.  Below are just a few common invasive herbaceous plants that are best controlled in the spring.


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