In our area we have an number of very unique places like the Point at Emerald Isle. Much of the life that we enjoy over on the beaches begins here in the marshes.
Marshes are fragile and resilient at the same time. Wind, weather, silt, and high water can challenge them but their real enemy is man and his efforts to shape them to his will. There is not much we can do about the weather, but we can try to protect our marshes.
We have a few months to go before the marsh grass is green like in the picture. With cold weather holding back new growth, we have to cross our fingers that things will start growing soon.
Fortunately winter is approaching the end of its rope here along the marshes of Carteret County. However, we have been waiting for spring for what seems like decades.
The cold weather will try to make a couple of forays into the South, but I am confident the Carolina coast will repel them and suffer at the worst some minor frost. We still have to deal with our spring winds which sometimes last well into May. Spring does not come easily to the coast and spring weather patterns can be fickle. Sometimes the wind and cold disappear early only to come roaring back. Then there are the rare years like 2014 when what we call winter weather on the coast stretches well into March.
Living along the marshes of Carteret County is a great way to be close to nature and the weather is a big part of our life here. A home here not far the expanse of Bogue Sound and the beaches of Emerald Isle offers the rare opportunity to live a life that nourishes rather than harms the natural world. We have not yet figured out exactly how to leave only footprints and take only pictures, but some of us are making progress.
Our home where we moved in 2006 backs up to Raymond's Gut, a small body of water that empties into the White Oak River. Raymond's Gut is only 25 feet from the corner of our garage. When we first got here it was not hard to find someone who suggested that we cut your marsh grasses to the ground. Considering the overgrown state of the wild ground behind and along the boardwalk to our dock, it was pretty easy advice to take considering the uncontrolled growth we faced.
Fortunately we just cut stuff and let it fall where it was. Things were left in a relatively natural state. We never went to the next step which is cutting the marsh grass on the edge of the gut to the ground. In fact we worked to encourage the marsh grass to grow and even made sure that weeds did not hinder the marsh grasses. Once the big weeds were gone, the marsh grass started slowly. Today we have not reached the season of green marsh grasses but we have plenty of marsh grasses along the edge of our waters.
It makes a huge difference. Most of the time when you walk out to our dock the waters around our dock are dark but clear. Even during a downpour of two inches like we recently received, the water from our driveway mostly goes through a French drain and a series of buried bags of styrofoam pellets designed to filter it. Overflow is filtered by an area of grass behind the driveway and the marsh grasses. It actually works very well.
While we have 175,000 acres of wetlands in Carteret County, an area 17% larger than the city of Chicago, each of us can only impact a small part of the wetlands. We pick up any dog waste from visiting canine friends. Our yards of centipede grass require a tiny amount of fertilizer with no nitrogen to speak of compared to many grasses grown in the interior of North Carolina. We compost an amazing amount of stuff and try to only spot treat weeds.
I feel very confident that the water which comes off of our tiny part of Carteret County is in good shape. Unfortunately there are others near us who do not care nearly as much. This plume of silt coming by my dock is the direct result of a neighbor trying to kill his marsh plants. It is a shame, but all I can hope for is that some day he will see the light and start helping the marsh instead of hurting it.
Our efforts are aimed at making sure the next generation gets to enjoy our coastal paradise as much as we do.