Lower Cape Fear Wildlife (formerly Island Wildlife) is the Lower Cape Fear Chapter of the NC Wildlife Federation. Our chapter's mission is to actively engage in preventative and restorative action to promote habitat conservation and environmental education and with your help, great things are happening. 2022 has been a big year for Lower Cape Fear Wildlife -- and your support has made so much good work possible in the lower Cape Fear Region!
LAKE WALK SIGNAGE at Carolina Beach Lake Park. These eight educational signs highlight our partnership with the Town of Carolina Beach and Carolina Beach Elementary School (New Hanover County Schools). This project incorporates curriculum-based STEAM education that connects to Island Wildlife's 300-foot lake shoreline restoration project at the park--and it invites the public to utilize the lake as an outdoor classroom. We hope that you will walk the lake and learn more about the evolution of this important project! You may also learn more by viewing the Education and Lake Walk tabs of our web page.
Impact: Over four hundred students from all grade levels and each class at Carolina Beach Elementary participated in this school-wide STEAM education project—which included students planting native plants at the lake and classroom environmental education and art-making. Periodic changes to educational signage and school lessons will continue in 2023, making this an ongoing collaboration for STEAM education.
CAPE FEAR REGION FISHERIES EDUCATION
Our programming began in 2022 and was supported by an initial grant from the National Parks Foundation. Collaborative relationships with the YWCA, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, the Waccamaw Siouan STEM Studio, Field Inclusive, and Carolina Ocean Studies have allowed us to host five in-person fisheries education events so far with more planned in 2023.
We were so grateful to be invited to participate in and serve as one of the co-sponsors of the 2022 Waccamaw Siouan Community Yacunne (Fish) Camp. This Native-led event focuses on Traditional Ecological Knowledge, biology, and education about Waccamaw Siouan tribal ways.
Fisheries education programming in 2022 included fishing education, marine science education trips to Masonboro Island and Oak Island, and avian ecology education.
Impact: This initiative has served over 500 people in three counties thusfar and has been supported by over 40 volunteers. With your support, this fisheries education initiative will continue for years to come!
EDUCATIONAL CARNIVOROUS BOG GARDEN
Lower Cape Fear Wildlife believes that nature is for everyone. We've been working with Carolina Beach State Park and hand-in-hand with NCWF, Friends of Pleasure Island State Park, NC State Park staff, and community volunteers to create a 40 by 40 foot carnivorous plant bog behind the Visitors Center. Lower Cape Fear Wildlife is grateful to the Extension Master Gardeners Volunteers Association for a grant that allowed for the purchase of over 150 native plants, included endemic flytraps and pitcher plants, as well as the generosity of our local community for responding to our initial fundraising appeal and participating in this groundbreaking project. This installation wouldn't be possible without your generosity and your volunteerism.
The overarching purpose of this collaborative project is to bring nature to the public. When fully completed, this project will include more than 40 North Carolina native plants, including five genera of carnivorous plants and several threatened, vulnerable, and state rare species. The garden structure will mimic the naturally occurring Longleaf Pine Savanna-Pocosin ecotone, which can host up to 50 plant species per square meter in the wild. The proposed gardens will allow tourists and locals alike one-of-a-kind access to the vast biodiversity that can only be found in the Southeastern Coastal Plains region. Incorporating a boardwalk with ADA-certified access will allow visitors of all ages and abilities to enjoy a natural wonder they may never experience otherwise. These ecosystems are notoriously challenging to navigate in the wild, and even the designated Flytrap Trail in the state park is not accessible to everyone.
These gardens will be used as educational platforms for patrons, naturalists, and students. Informational signage will be installed along the boardwalk and scheduled talks, walks, outdoor lessons will be led by park rangers and local experts. Summer programs focusing on basic organismal biology, local ecology, and stewardship will be established for park visitors, local schools, and regional nature organizations. Cooperative long-term internships and research opportunities between the park and University of North Carolina Wilmington will also be formally implemented.
We're excited by the impact this project will have on the park and the region. It truly exemplifies Lower Cape Fear Wildlife's mission of conservation and education. Park staff will monitor the number of visitors impacted by this project, but as one of North Carolina's most-visited state parks, the number will be quite large.
Impact: This amazing locally-led effort will have regional and statewide impact for many years to come, and provide numerous educational opportunities, thanks to you!
In 2022, you have joined Lower Cape Fear Wildlife at over 30 in-person events. These have included everything from native plant events, botanical education walks, community plantings, litter cleanups, botanical and avian art-making events, mini-bog plant workshops, native seed packing events, to name just a few. We are grateful to join together in person to learn, enjoy one another, and make our community healthier. (And please join us for our upcoming Holiday for Wildlife event with author Barbara Sullivan (Climate Change Gardening for the South) on December 9th!)
A few of our trash cleanup collaborators include Island Women, Marine Science Academy at Ashley High School, and Beta Club at Ashley High School and Key Club.
Some of our educational and habitat restoration partners include The Cape Fear Bird Observatory, Home and Hoop, The Longleaf Alliance, Fire in the Pines, Field Inclusive, Carolina Beach Elementary School, Lake Forest Academy, City of Wilmington, Cape Fear Public Utilities Authority, N.C. Extension, and the Town of Carolina Beach Parks and Recreation.
Local impact: Our in-person events have reached over 500 participants in 2022 and over 300 volunteers have assisted us in 2022. Thank you for showing up for Lower Cape Fear Wildlife time and time again! We are truly grateful for all you do to make the Lower Cape Fear Region a better place to live.
WE LOVE LEARNING WITH YOU!
Lower Cape Fear Wildlife (Island Wildlife) was formed in 2020 during the start of the pandemic, and virtual education remains one of our community education and outreach methods. In 2022 we hosted 11 webinars, including our first hybrid event (combined in-person and online). Topics included: Diamondback Terrapins and the Terrapin Tally, Waccamaw Siouan Traditional Ecological Knowledge, DEI and Field Safety, Rachel Carson and Lake Mattamuskeet, and book presentations by authors Janisse Ray (Wild Spectacle) and Georgann Eubanks (Saving the Wild South).
Impact: Over 1900 of you attended our 2022 webinars!
Island Wildlife needs your support to keep these community programs thriving in 2023. We plan to expand our educational programming to three additional title one schools, increase access to nature and to curriculum-aligned educational experiences in the field, and expand our biodiversity educational programming within New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender counties.
We hope that you will continue to be a vital part of this important community work. We simply can't do it without your generosity, time, and talents. Lower Cape Fear Wildlife looks forward to another great year of restoration, conservation and education with you!