NOTE: EEP Undercurrents is envisioned as a series of
periodic newsletters to update readers on the issues and events affecting
EEP, its customers and consultants. We welcome your feedback.
connects with federal rule stakeholders via webinar
Moments before the
webinar began, EEP’s Eric Ellis reviewed
last-minute instructions with Todd Tugwell of the
Corps of Engineers (sitting, left), Kathy Matthews of EPA (sitting, right)
and Suzanne Klimek of EEP (right). (photo by Tad Boggs)
In collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wilmington
District and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Ecosystem
Enhancement Program hosted its first webinar on Dec. 16, 2009, carried live
via the Web to more than 100 registrants in seven states and the District of Columbia.
The interactive seminar reviewed the proposed new draft
instrument developed to meet the requirements of new federal mitigation rules
enacted in June 2008, and allowed panelists Kathy Matthews of EPA, Todd Tugwell of the Corps and Suzanne Klimek of EEP to field
participants’ questions on the presentation in real time.
A chat feature included in the software allowed
registrants to submit questions to the panel during the webinar. “We chose the chat method instead of
verbal feedback because of the large number of participants in the webinar,
and our desire to give every participant equal access to pose questions in a
limited amount of time,” said Klimek.
EEP staffers were stationed in an adjacent room to
field submitted questions, and reposted them verbatim on a spreadsheet that
was projected into the webinar broadcast room. This allowed the panelists to view
questions as they were coming in, and to discuss answers during designated
The webinar elicited positive comments from several
participants, including staff at the EPA Office of Water in Washington, D.C. The draft instrument, the PowerPoint
presentation and a summary of questions received during the webinar are
posted on the EEP Web site at http://www.nceep.net/pages/webinar.html.
On Feb. 24, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
announced the release of the draft instrument for public comment. USACE posted the Request
for Comments and the draft instrument the Corps’ Wilmington
District Web site with a March 23 deadline.
EEP’s Brown appointed to Sediment
Control Commission panel
Wyatt Brown (right)
accepts congratulations from EEP Director Bill Gilmore (photo by Tad Boggs)
The Land Quality Section of the N.C. Department of
Environment and Natural Resources’ Division of Land Resources has named
EEP Water Resources Engineer Wyatt Brown to serve on the Technical Advisory
Committee of the N.C. Sedimentation Control Commission.
The commission was created to administer the Sedimentation
Control Program pursuant to the N.C. Sedimentation Pollution Control Act of
1973 by adopting rules, setting standards and providing guidance for
implementation of the law. The composition of the commission is set by
statute to encompass a broad range of perspectives and expertise in areas
related to construction, industry, government and natural resource conservation
The Technical Advisory Committee assists the commission in developing the
statewide erosion and sedimentation control program. According to the commission, the Technical
Advisory Committee’s immediate roles will include support in the development
of draft rules regarding the Falls Lake Reservoir and Upper Neuse
River water supply, as
well as evaluating potential revisions to the state sediment and erosion
Brown is a graduate of N.C. State
University and formerly
served as an assistant regional engineer with the Land Quality Section. He joined EEP in 2004. Brown is a licensed soil scientist and a
certified professional erosion and sedimentation control specialist.
team, stakeholders study EEP procurement methods
At the request of NCDENR, an independent analysis of EEP’s outsourcing system is being conducted under
the leadership of the widely respected School of Government
at UNC-Chapel Hill.
NCDENR commissioned the SOG team to provide a transparent
analysis that includes stakeholder input on EEP business practices. The first phase of the study, to be
completed in May, has included facilitation sessions with private-sector
contractors, program users, regulators and environmental agencies, and
representatives of NCDENR and the Perdue administration. The initial outreach seeks to identify
performance measures to use in the second phase of the project, which will be
an analysis of EEP procurement practices.
The final report is due in May.
EEP staff provided a summary
of the two primary procurement methods used by the program – the
full delivery and design-bid-build initiatives – assessing the pros and
cons of each method and their relative usefulness. More information on the study is available
at a special
SOG wiki page.
reports to ERC on S.L. 2009-33
In July 2009 the General Assembly enacted Session
Law 2009-337, which made amendments to 2008 legislation that promoted the
use of private mitigation banks for the state's compensatory-mitigation needs
Section 5 of S.L. 2009-337 requires that NCDENR study and
report to the General Assembly's Environmental Review Commission whether the
law "creates the likelihood that the Ecosystem Enhancement Program will
be unable to recoup investments made in riparian buffer mitigation and
nutrient offset projects." An
initial analysis for the report concluded that that the recent passage of the
law and the economic slowdown made conclusive findings premature. NCDENR recommended to the ERC to give EEP
an extension until October to continue monitoring the law's effects, and
report back then on its conclusions.
debate leads to DWQ outreach, legislative study
A 2008 decision
to allow the purchase by EEP of nutrient-offset credits from an Environmental
Banc and Exchange mitigation bank where other stream and wetland credits had
been awarded led to a Dec. 9, 2009 stakeholder meeting to explore the issue
of credit stacking.
Division of Water Quality sponsored the December meeting to air the debate
over its decision, which subsequently drew opposition from some private
mitigation bankers and the Upper Neuse Riverkeeper. EEP had no role in approving the transaction. EEP staffers Jim Stanfill and Marc Recktenwald participated in the outreach session,
designed to discuss when and how credit stacking may occur and overlap.
decided in February 2009 to suspend the approval of mitigation banks
involving similar circumstances in order to review mitigation-credit
policy. The General Assembly’s
Program Evaluation Division issued an
independent study on NCDENR mitigation-credit determinations on Dec. 16.
returns to ‘Aqua Kids’ airwaves
EEP’s Zack Mondry (left) shares some mountain music with the Aqua
Kids cast and EEP’s Greg Melia (right) at
the Stone Mountain filming (photo by Ed Farr, Stone Mountain State
EEP’s stream-restoration work in a Western
North Carolina state park will be featured in an April broadcast
of Aqua Kids, the internationally
syndicated educational TV show that promotes environmental action by young
Baltimore-based production company returned to North Carolina to film two shows last
June. The first, an examination of
mountain-bog habitat featuring two NCDENR employees, aired in March.
The April show will feature Zack Mondry
and Greg Melia of EEP to explore an EEP stream-restoration project at Stone Mountain State
Park in Wilkes and Alleghany counties.
The episode will focus on the restoration, hydrology and water quality
of the East Prong of Roaring River, a stream-restoration project jointly
sponsored by EEP, Stone Mountain State Park and N.C. State
University. The project restored about two miles of
stream within the park. Prior to
state’s buying the land for the state park in the 1960s, the stream had
been straightened, and gravel mining was conducted in a downstream portion.
Aqua Kids first featured EEP in an episode filmed in Franklin, Person and Cumberland counties in June 2008. The episode is posted on the EEP Web site video streaming page,
where the Stone Mountain episode will be
posted following its April broadcast.
The show is seen in the Triangle area at 7 a.m. Saturday mornings on
WRAZ Fox 50, as well as on local cable systems around the state.
report evolves into electronic document
effort to employ interactive applications using Web technologies that invite
reader participation into EEP’s work, EEP
designed its 2008-09 Annual Report primarily as an electronic
“The technical term for what we strove for in this
report is ‘Web 2.0’,” said EEP Director Bill Gilmore. “In layman’s terms, that means
we aimed to facilitate creativity, information sharing, and, most notably,
collaboration among users, and we’re proud of how it turned out.”
include video shorts of a tutorial on EEP's Web
mapping system; highlights from a 2008 episode of Aqua Kids featuring
EEP; an online feedback form; and a running table of contents to provide
immediate jumps to any portion of the document. The report also invites readers to provide
input on the new format online.
The annual report’s new look was created by NCDENR’s Creative Services office in collaboration
with EEP Reports Coordinator Eric Ellis.
Western office relocates to Asheville
EEP Western office staff meeting in new
office (photo by Mike McDonald).
EEP’s Western office has relocated from Swannanoa to
The old office was adjacent to the NCDENR Western Regional Office; however,
the lease expired and could not be renewed.
physical address of the office is 5
Ravenscroft Dr., Suite 102, Asheville, NC 28801. The office’s new fax number is (828)232-4420. Individual staff contact numbers may be
found on the EEP staff
directory Web page.
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