The soggy-bottom wetlands of the world have long gotten a bad rap, having been considered “just in the way” and impediments to progress.
A new organization, the Carolina Wetlands Association, is out to change that and this month selected a shoreline at Pettigrew State Park as one of the first Wetland Treasures of the Carolinas. The 550 acres of unique wetlands along the north shore of Lake Phelps, North Carolina’s second largest natural lake, offers cypress and willow forest, a rare natural community found on bay lakes and an area of mature lakeshore swamp. The site contains one of the last old growth forests in eastern North Carolina, including some bald cypress trees 10 feet in diameter.
Amin Davis, the organization’s outreach coordinator, said the program “seeks to recast wetlands in a way that increases public awareness and appreciation of wetlands and to generate community pride…” for areas that are nurseries for aquatic life, support a stunning array of bird, plant and animal life and are beautiful in their own way. In the case of Lake Phelps, the designated area is also part of the red wolf reintroduction program.
The organization led a field trip onto the Lake Phelps shoreline at Pettigrew on Saturday and presented Park Superintendent Charles “Steve” Rogers with a plaque recognizing the designation.