PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: McClure’s Bog Preserve Project

McClure’s Bog, a candidate for inclusion in the Mountain Bogs National Wildlife Refuge, is a French Broad River Valley Bog subtype and host to a suite of unique plant species and wildlife habitat and characterized by low nutrient groundwater-driven hydrology. Similar areas once existed in an extensive patchwork throughout the upper French Broad River Valley bottoms. Land use conversion practices, as well as changes to fire and other natural disturbance regimes, have severely impacted these features and in many cases eliminated them from the landscape. McClures Bog is one of several remnant areas with sustained populations of the unique species representative of this bog subtype. In recognition of this, McClures Bog was purchased for protection years ago, along with an adjacent natural stream corridor, by The Nature Conservancy (Conservancy) and the Natural Heritage Program of North Carolina (NC NHP). The bog has been, and continues to be, extensively managed by The Conservancy to preserve, and improve the sustainability of the species and habitats present.

 

The restoration project was constructed in the winter of 2019-2020 by South Core Environmental with oversight by Wildlands. The tiered wetland basins treat more than 1.5” of rainfall from the watershed, reduce surface runoff and nutrient and other pollutants to the bog, increase infiltration and create a more natural hydrologic regime and route high flows around sensitive areas of the bog. The site was treated for non-native invasive species prior to construction and planted post-construction with a robust and diverse suite of herbaceous, shrub and tree species to mimic other similar natural landscapes in the area. Post-project hydrologic monitoring and thermal groundwater investigation by University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNCA) has verified that the project successfully reduced stormwater inflows to sensitive plant areas and eliminated surface water runoff during most rainfall events.

 

The project was funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The Conservancy and Wildlands lead a robust design and stakeholder team and process to execute the project. This team included Peak Hydrogeologic (groundwater testing), Joe Pye Ecological Consulting & Nursery (native plant and habitat restoration), KD Ecological (invasives plant management), US Fish & Wildlife Service, NC NHP, the US Army Corps of Engineers, NC Division of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Henderson County, Conserving Carolina, RiverLink, and UNCA Professor Jeff Wilcox and his students. Wildlands was the project manager and design-build lead, completing gage analysis, hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, visualization graphics and stakeholder coordination, stormwater design, permitting and adaptive management components and assisting with planting plans, invasive species removal scoping, and grant reporting.

 

Plant photos were taken by Emily Israel, Stewardship Coordinator for Wildlands, who was involved in invasive species management at McClure’s Bog under a prior engagement. Emily is dedicated to protecting North Carolina’s natural resources and land stewardship by contributing invaluable work to the conservation sector.

 

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

PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: Carolina Crossroads Permittee-Responsible Mitigation Project

Located in the heart of South Carolina, the Carolina Crossroads I-20/26/126 Corridor Improvement Project (a.k.a., Malfunction Junction makeover) is the number one interstate improvement priority for the state of South Carolina (https://lnkd.in/euFJQc2). Construction of the Carolina Crossroads project requires unavoidable impacts to waters (of the U.S.) under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as regulated by Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) evaluated multiple mitigation alternatives to offset aquatic resource impacts. The mitigation option that SCDOT selected has offset impacts through the restoration, enhancement, and protection of more than 80,000 linear feet of stream and the protection of more than 8.6-acres of wetlands. This large-scale and unique mitigation project will also protect more than 2,600 acres of land adjacent to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ Belfast Wildlife Management Area, providing future public use and wildlife management benefits.

 

Wildlands led site identification and acquisition, mitigation plan development, natural channel design, generation of construction documents, and construction oversight of the restoration and enhancement activities. Due to the size of the mitigation project and this project serving as the largest stream mitigation project undertaken by the SCDOT, mitigation development was a collaborative effort among multiple project partners including SCDOT, HDR, Open Space Institute, Wildlands and members of the regulatory community. The size of the project site, and availability of on-site resources, allowed Wildlands to critically evaluate on-site materials and maximize the beneficial re-use of native and natural materials during construction. This practice reduced the client’s cost by reducing material import, maintained native characteristics through the reuse of available materials, and facilitated the primary objective of natural channel design. During construction, Wildlands utilized ArcGIS Online to communicate project status with key stakeholders. The contractor completed construction activities at the mitigation site in early 2022 and Phases 1 and 2 of the Malfunction Junction makeover are underway. Wildlands is currently providing post-construction monitoring services.

 

Hear what our staff has to say about working at Wildlands Engineering!

Our growth rate, in terms of employees, has averaged 21% annually over the past five years. We began as a seven-person team in Charlotte, NC in 2007 and have grown to 85 full-time professionals with offices in Charlotte, Raleigh, Asheville, NC; Charleston, SC; and Fairfax, VA. Our staff have dedicated their careers to improving the environment and we provide more than 15-years of experience as a firm. We recognize that people are our most valuable asset, and our firm has tenured employees that develop young talent. This approach results in low turnover and allows senior leadership to transfer knowledge, while building our internal culture.

 

We recently asked some staff what it is like working at Wildlands and here is what they shared:

“I enjoy working at Wildlands because I get to build my experience while working alongside professionals and experts in the field of stream restoration. At Wildlands, I appreciate having a balance between field work and office work, so that we never lose that connection, which really helps to ensure we get the best possible outcomes for our projects.”

 

“Working at Wildlands is exciting and engaging. The company is dynamic, innovative, and always working to improve. There are many ways to get involved and collaborating across teams, which is stimulating. Plus, co-workers feel like family and the perks are nice, too!”

 

 

“The ability to work on such a wide range of tasks throughout the year in both indoor and outdoor settings is continually refreshing. I relish the opportunity to make a direct impact through hands-on problem solving and applied resourcefulness in the reestablishment of native plant communities in my home state of North Carolina. I also love working for a company where I have room to grow in my role and work alongside people that I learn from daily and who help me succeed.”

 

Working at Wildlands has been exciting in ways that I never imagined. While it has definitely included more ticks than I planned for, it has also included the most accepting and supportive work environment I’ve ever had the privilege to be a part of. I can’t wait to see what my future holds with Wildlands, because I know it will be awesome!”

 

“I’ve gotten to make various maps for different stages of projects for landowners, different cities, and different counties. I love working at Wildlands and being able to work with some of the best people I’ve ever met. In working with engineers, designers, and scientists, I’ve been able to understand what goes into different phases of our projects and how to do my job better.

 

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