Now Open Tuesdays & Saturdays, 9am-5pm

Restoration

Our Mission

Over recent decades, in the southeast of the United States, many Carolina bays have been severely altered or completely lost due to a combination of mining, logging, construction, agricultural use and leisure activities. These practices are widely accepted in areas such as this because of the 2001 US Supreme Court decision on SWANCC vs. USACE which devitalized legal protection for isolated wetlands under the clean water act allowing for the expedient degradation of Carolina bays as well as many other isolated freshwater wetlands.

This is largely due to the lack of awareness and importance of the niche-ecosystem these Carolina bays support and the value they bring to our natural world, and larger community. It is crucial that the significance of this site and wetlands as a whole be recognized, preserved, and protected in order to maintain clean air, clean water and a valued community.

As a result of wetland ecosystem degradation, Carolina Bay’s have lost essential natural habitats which inhabit rare and endangered plant and animal species. According to a study done by the Georgia Natural Heritage Program in 2002, there are 50 rare plant species and 18 rare animal species potentially in the habitats associated with Carolina bays in Georgia.

This study also found there are at least 4 species that have been driven to extirpation or extinction. The very gradual wetland gradient present in this bay can provide for a wide range of habitats from ephemerally flooded shrub lands to perennially flooded emergent vegetation ponds. Because this bay has not been maintained, water quality is reduced by a lack of vegetation, detention and filtration. Properly functioning Carolina Bays help replenish groundwater by allowing rainwater to infiltrate and recharge the aquifer.

Vegetation in and around Carolina Bays can take up excess nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, preventing them from entering water bodies and causing harmful algae blooms or other water quality issues. These functions promote a sustainable and reliable supply of clean water. The associated economic losses with the reduction of freshwater wetlands will expose a decrease in property values, reduced aesthetics, Increased water pollution, adverse impacts on pollinators, food supply including wild game and fish, herbal plants, as well as effect tourism and recreation.

In our comprehensive approach to the restoration of Kennedy Pond, we are committed to re-establishing its diverse Carolina bay wetland characteristics. This is a multi step process which includes restoration of the water table, the recreation of hydrological connections, and the enhancement of wetland vegetation and wildlife habitats. A key aspect of our strategy is the identification and prioritization of native plant species specific to the Carolina bay. We not only reintroduce these species but also ensure their ongoing success. Native vegetation, carefully selected to suit the ecosystem of Carolina Bays, spans a variety of plant types, including trees, shrubs, grasses, and aquatic plants. The goal is to foster biodiversity and stabilize the soil within the bay.

Our efforts extend to invasive species control, where we develop and implement plans to identify, manage, and control invasive plants and animals that could impede the restoration process and harm native flora and fauna. Wildlife habitat restoration is a focal point, particularly for species that are rare or endangered. The health of the soil is another crucial aspect of our restoration mission, addressing concerns such as erosion, nutrient levels, and organic matter content.

A thorough assessment and ongoing monitoring of water quality are integral to our approach. To improve water quality within the bay, we implement measures like erosion control, sedimentation ponds, and filtration systems, aiming to reduce pollution and sediment runoff. The preservation of rare and endangered species is paramount, and we actively identify and protect plant and animal species that may inhabit or rely on Carolina bays.

Our commitment to increasing biomass and biodiversity is evident throughout our restoration initiatives. Hydrology management involves careful control of water levels, addressing drainage issues, and restoring natural water flow. Collaborative efforts with contiguous property owners are essential for shore restoration, buffer zones, and hydrology management.

Recognizing the significance of natural buffer zones, we ensure the presence of natural vegetation around wetlands. This serves as a critical resource for both aquatic and terrestrial fauna, with specific considerations for the nesting and hibernation needs of turtles and salamanders. The establishment of natural buffer zones helps mitigate various external impacts, including temperature extremes, drainage rates, sedimentation, chemical and nutrient run-off, and soil moisture gradients. Our restoration endeavors strive for a comprehensive, detailed, and sustained approach to preserving and enhancing the intricate ecosystems of Carolina bays.

Our Goals

1.

Work to gather data to better understand the Carolina bay and create a foundation to begin the restoration process. This is being done by an initial ecological assessment of flora, fauna, water quality, hydrology, buffer area, sand rim condition, and function.

2.

Create a comprehensive restoration site plan building off of the data from the initial assessment, including wetland areas as well as current upland property.

3.

Begin restoration based on the site plan. Implement a monitoring program to assess the progress of restoration efforts. Use the collected data to adapt the restoration plan as needed, making informed adjustments for the best possible outcomes. This ensures the continued success of the restoration of Kennedy Pond by including periodic assessments, maintenance activities, and adaptive management based on changing conditions.