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January 30, 2009

Boone wetland project under way

Cooperative Extension is working with the town of Boone to build a wetland that will treat storm water from 30 acres of impervious parking lots, roads and buildings, removing sediments, nutrients, heavy metals, chemicals and bacteria by natural means and preventing them from entering the nearby New River.

Read more in The Mountain Times

Posted by Dave at 01:28 PM

UNC-TV to feature two stories on 4-H's centennial

4h centennial logo

The Department of 4-H Youth Development and Family & Consumer Sciences is excited to announce the airing of two NC 4-H Youth Development features on UNC-TV.

To celebrate NC 4-H’s 100th anniversary, UNC-TV has agreed to feature the NC 4-H Youth Development Program in a series of North Carolina NOW (NC NOW) programs. The first series of two NC NOW programs will air on Monday, Feb. 2 and Tuesday, Feb. 3. The two features will spotlight the history and evolution of the NC 4-H Youth Development Program.

We encourage the entire University System to watch these features and visit the North Carolina NOW Web site. To access your local airing times for these features and to learn more about UNC-TV and the North Carolina NOW show visit www.unctv.org/ncnow/ncnow_specials.

In 2009, North Carolina 4-H will celebrate 100 years of providing the youth of our state the life skills they need to reach their pull potential by working and learning in partnership with caring volunteers and youth development professionals. It is through those relationships that young people become confident, mature adults ready for success in today’s challenging world.

The year-long celebration, themed “We Are 4-H!” will give North Carolina 4-H the opportunity to remember its past and break through to the second century of innovative 4-H programming as it shifts to meet the changing interests of today’s generation and the needs of our state.

North Carolina 4-H took root as corn and tomato clubs in Ahoskie in 1909, and soon evolved into the statewide 4-H program we know today. With over 239,000 youth actively involved last year, North Carolina 4-H is as relevant today as it was 100 years ago.

From rocketry to workforce development and nutrition programs to a week-long camping experience at one of five residential facilities, North Carolina 4-H is a community of young people who are learning leadership, citizenship and 21st century life skills that will enhance their lives and prepare them to be the leaders of tomorrow.
Wherever youth are today, 4-H is there.

Posted by Natalie at 10:18 AM

Rufty leads sustainability effort

Dr. Tom Rufty has been named the first Bayer CropScience Professor of Sustainable Development, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, announced Jan. 22. The position is made possible by a $1 million endowment created by Bayer CropScience.

Rufty is co-director of the Center for Turfgrass Environmental Research and Education and a professor of environmental plant physiology in the Department of Crop Science. His research focuses on resource acquisition by plants and plant communities, and plant responses to environmental stress.

Posted by Natalie at 10:12 AM

Grabow leads study on irrigation technologies

The Town of Cary has partnered with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for a study on the effectiveness of new irrigation technologies. Dr. Garry Grabow, a professor of agricultural and biological engineering, will lead the study. Grabow hopes to solicit help from 24 Cary residents, who would be divided into four groups for the study, which is expected to last 18 months.

Posted by Natalie at 10:10 AM

January 26, 2009

4-H Performing Arts Troupe to return this year

4-H Troupe (Mark Dearmon photo)

In recognition of the North Carolina 4-H Centennial, 2009 4-H’ers and leaders from across the state will have the opportunity to be involved in a new version of the 4-H Performing Arts Troupe. Some of you may remember the Troupe from the 80’s, and the vision for 2009 is very similar.

Unlike most 4-H performing groups around the country, our Troupe will not be a variation on a show choir. Instead, we will rehearse and stage an original musical theatre production written to celebrate the 100 year history of 4-H in North Carolina as part of the Centennial Celebration at 4-H Congress. The Troupe Web site with applications is: www.cals.ncsu.edu/agcomm/4HTroupe/

Current 4-H members ages 12-18 will have the opportunity to audition for the 30-40 performing roles in the Troupe. 4-H’ers who are more interested in the technical components of the show can apply to work with our technical staff in the areas of costumes, props, set, lighting and sound. Applications for performing and technical students will be available beginning in January with three regional auditions being planned for March.

The Troupe is also seeking 10-12 adult volunteer leaders to help bring this dream to fruition. The adult volunteers will work with our directors and technical staff to support and provide leadership for our teens. The application form for volunteer leaders for the Troupe is attached to this email. Adults who are interested in music, dance, costumes, props and the technical aspects of theatre are encouraged to apply.

Important dates:
Jan. 30: Applications due for adult volunteer leaders. Adults will be selected by mid-February.

Feb. 23: Applications due from 4-H’ers (ages 12-18) interested in performing or technical roles with the Troupe.

March: Three regional auditions will be held in the east, west and central areas of the state. Performing students may audition at any of the three sites.

* Western auditions -- Saturday, March 14, 10 a.m., Buncombe County Extension Office
* Eastern auditions -- Saturday, March 21, 10 a.m., Edgecombe County Extension Office
* Piedmont auditions -- Saturday, March 28, 10 a.m., Randolph County Extension office

Posted by Natalie at 02:36 PM

January 15, 2009

BAE Stormwater Engineering Group makes it happen for Wal-Mart

Bill Lord points out the profile of the permeable concrete used in the Wal-Mart parking lot. (Photo by Art Latham)

At first, it seemed that Wal-Mart might be running into substantial regulatory roadblocks to its plans for a new “Super Center” on U.S. Highway 64 in Nashville, N.C.

Due to anticipated adverse wetland and stream impacts, in 2007 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Division of Water Quality had rejected Wal-Mart’s original site plan, which didn’t include room to meet stormwater-control regulations and destroyed almost an acre of wetlands.

Stormwater runoff from the site eventually drains to the Tar River’s nutrient-sensitive waters, then into Pamlico Sound, part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program.

“Flooding and nutrient pollution associated with development and reduced pervious surfaces are major concerns nationwide,” says Bill Lord, environmental educator with North Carolina Cooperative Extension. “Pollution sources in urban stormwater include automobiles, associated roads and parking lots and contributions from atmospheric deposition.”

At about the same time Wal-Mart was facing its regulatory challenges, Dr. Bill Hunt, assistant professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) at N.C. State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and N.C. State’s Stormwater Engineering Group leader, was looking for a shopping center site on which to conduct low impact development (LID) stormwater practices research.

This was part of an EPA 319(h)-funded project that required installing at least two research-validated stormwater best management practices (BMPs). LID strategies help develop a site so it mimics on-site water’s pre-development properties, distribution and effects on the earth's surface.

The Wal-Mart project seemed a likely prospect, so the group, located in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, proposed a win-win solution.

Hunt, a professional engineer and N.C. Cooperative Extension urban stormwater management specialist; Dan Line, a BAE extension associate; and Rob Brown, BAE graduate research assistant, partnered with site designer Paul Smith of Stocks Engineering of Raleigh to create a LID design to lessen the project’s water-quality impact and gain regulatory agency approvals.

Wal-Mart chose bioretention and permeable pavement as its stormwater BMPs, and Smith included stormwater wetlands to further meet water quality and quantity requirements. Such BMPs reduce polluting nitrogen, phosphorus and water input from new developments such as the Wal-Mart site.

Because of NCSU’s involvement and the fact that Smith had reduced the negatively impacted, naturally occurring wetlands area to .1 acre, DWQ accepted the compromise design with undersized stormwater wetlands and larger bioretention beds. The agency also accepted a combined permeable pavement/bioretention system that can treat approximately two inches of rainfall, rather than the one inch usually required.

The Wal-Mart now has 47,600 square feet of permeable concrete parking areas, eight bioretention beds and 20,000- and 10,000-square-foot stormwater wetlands that accept runoff from the store roof, parking lot and out parcels. That includes runoff from 1.47 million square feet of permeable concrete parking and associated underground water storage areas.

And as of 2008, Nashville has a more environmentally friendly Super Wal-Mart.

However, the story wasn’t over yet.

“Based on prior experience,” says Lord, “Stormwater Group members advised the engineer and contractors to protect the bioretention beds from sedimentation during construction, since sediment from unstable parking lot base layers and soil clog and contaminate them if it rains in the interlude between bed-filling and parking lot paving. And it rained.”

In this case, the contractor had filled the beds with a custom nitrogen- and phosphorus-removing soil mix after the parking lot was covered in a gravel-and-sand mix and the beds covered with geotextile, a woven polyester fabric, to protect them from sedimentation before paving. After the parking lot was paved and the bioretention beds planted and mulched, several drained very slowly and remained excessively wet for several days after a rain. Apparently, a fine granite-based sediment layer accumulation in the fill media’s top layer was inhibiting drainage.

Indeed, sediment layer analysis showed high silt and clay levels several inches under the bioretention beds’ surfaces.

“Although attempts were made to protect bioretention beds from sedimentation,” says Lord, “subsequent poor drainage and investigation shows that geotextile provides insufficient protection from sediment. Based on our experience with this project, we need to do more to protect bioretention beds during construction.”

Rob Brown will observe and monitor the poorly draining beds for a year before removing the sediment layer from each to contrast performance before and after sediment removal.

“We are not only collecting water-quality data on the stormwater BMPs as part of a bioretention research project,” says Lord, “but we are also documenting the BMP system’s planning, construction and performance to help us learn how to do a better job on future projects. We present this information as a case study, and it’s all part of the learning process.

“Every site is different, and we appreciate the opportunity to work with Wal-Mart and to monitor the BMPs’ performance over time,” he says. “The design engineers, contractor and Wal-Mart were extremely cooperative during construction, but stormwater BMPs are relatively new technologies and we are learning as we go, even on this project.

“As with all of our field work,” Lord says, “the Stormwater Group, contractors and owners continue to learn from the collective experience and we continue to refine our recommendations on BMP construction and maintenance.”

The Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources helped fund this research project.

-A. Latham

Posted by Art at 08:46 AM

January 12, 2009

BAE, Extension, Boone team install water-saving cistern

Eric Gustaveson and Andrea Gimlin demonstrate the relative size of a recently installed 5,000-gallon water-saving cistern. (Photo by Art Latham)

The large cistern, pipes and related gutters were installed in July in Boone by a team led by Jason Wright, Extension associate with North Carolina State University’s Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department’s Stormwater Team in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Wendy Patoprsty, North
Carolina Cooperative Extension natural resources agent, helped choose the site.

“The Town of Boone actively supports water conservation and recycling,” says Andrea Gimlin, Boone’s Every Drop Counts water conservation program coordinator. “Our water conservation education program supports our philosophy of managing the environment in a manner that does not despoil, exhaust or extinguish water, our natural resource.”

Water stored in the cistern, which first flows from a 2,800-square-foot town maintenance building roof, is used for street and vehicle washing and for street salting, says Gustaveson, who is facilities maintenance superintendent for the Town of Boone’s parks and its Greenway Trail.

“This installation is part of a demonstration and evaluation of rainwater harvesting and cistern technology in North Carolina research project funded by a state Division of Water Quality grant,” says the Stormwater Team’s Wright.

The project includes water-harvesting installations at four sites across the state, including large cisterns already in place at Fayetteville Technical Community College Horticultural Center in Cumberland County, the Craven County Animal Shelter and the Guilford County Agricultural Center.

“The grant includes monitoring the Guilford County cistern to determine the effect of cisterns on water quality and monitoring water use associated with each cistern to determine the overall impact on stormwater,” he says.

-A. Latham

Posted by Art at 10:26 AM