Sound Rivers Program Director Clay Barber joined Beaufort County Community College’s Environmental Alliance club to spruce up one of the school’s constructed wetlands this week.

Led by club advisor Attila Nemecz — BCCC’s public relations and marketing coordinator —members picked up trash, cut back some plants and planted others in the wetland located between U.S. Highway 264 and the Continuing Education building.

“We were having a clean-up day, so (BCCC Director of Community Partnerships) Clay Carter brought some of his own native plants to add to the wetland, and Attila headed up some invasive tree removal,” Clay said. “And they also dipped some minnows from the receiving stream and moved them to the wetland. So, they seeded the wetland for minnows.”

Clay said the constructed wetland, completed in 2020, is one of several successful stormwater projects Sound Rivers has partnered on in the past several years.

“I think it’s going very well. The plants that we planted are very well-established. There doesn’t seem to be any significant erosion. The wildlife is really enjoying it — there are plenty of tracks coming and to and from the wetland,” Clay said. “And Clay (Carter) and the student group love it.”

Clay said his one critique is a familiar one seen in ditches and low-lying areas across eastern North Carolina: cattails. The species was not planted in the wetland, but arrived there on its own.

“I believe they’re native, but they’re just so aggressive. If there’s not enough established biodiversity, they will just take over,” he said.

Removal of cattails is also a tedious process, according to Clay, requiring an herbicide applied to each cut stalk.

Clay Carter points out native species while Attila Nemecz and members of the Environmental Alliance club look on.

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