Riverkeeper reacts to removal of wetland protections

Environmental, Flooding, Neuse River Watershed, Sound Rivers, Stormwater Issues, Tar-Pamlico Watershed, Water Quality, Wetlands

Posted on June 8th, 2023

An isolated wetland in Croatan National Park in the Neuse watershed.

The following was written by Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop in response to the North Carolina General Assembly’s passage of the 2023 Farm Act, which contains a provision that destroys protections for more than a million acres of North Carolina wetlands.

The North Carolina General Assembly just voted to undercut our first line of flood prevention by sacrificing our state’s wetlands. Yesterday’s NC House vote in support of the 2023 Farm Act solidified dangerous provisions that undercut state wetlands protections that are more vital now than ever. 

Just before Memorial Day weekend, the U.S. Supreme Court rolled back critical protection for wetlands across the country. The North Carolina General Assembly’s decision ties North Carolina to this devastating Supreme Court decision and will now allow for the pollution and development of more than a million acres of wetlands across North Carolina — 800,000 acres in the Neuse and Cape Fear river basins alone. 

Wetlands work as critical natural solutions to flooding by helping to store water and prevent the inundation of communities across our watersheds. Wetlands also help clean water quality by filtering out sediment and other pollutants and creating cleaner water for downstream communities. 

This move by the General Assembly has grave implications for many of our communities along the Tar-Pamlico and Neuse rivers and will increase flood risks for all. Plain and simple — it means more flooding and more polluted water for our future and across the entire country. In short, this is bad news for flood-prone communities and all of North Carolina. 

The state of North Carolina is currently investing millions in flood prevention planning. The decision to remove protections from our wetlands undercuts our best natural tools for defending against flooding, wastes taxpayer dollars and makes our communities more susceptible to inundation. 

You can help us fight to protect our wetlands and waters and protect our families and businesses from more flooding and poorer water quality. Reach out to your North Carolina legislators today and tell them to take action to re-establish state wetland protections that support our state’s flood resiliency planning and protect our communities from floodwaters to come.

Find your legislators’ contact information here.

Carolina bays are one of several types of isolated wetlands that will lose protections in North Carolina after state legislators chose to align NC’s definition of wetlands to those at the federal level, as described by the Water of the US rule. This Carolina bay is located in the Croatan National Forest.

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