New project from State's new Conservancy director
Wed, May 06, 2009 at 3:35 PM
By The Nature Conservancy
There’s a new Nature Conservancy face on North Carolina’s northern coast. Brian Boutin began work April 13 as director of the Conservancy’s Climate Change Adaptation Project.
The pilot project is a partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service that will focus on the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. It will explore ways to make the fragile shoreline more resilient to rising sea level and other effects of climate change. Adaptation techniques will include restoring the region’s natural hydrology and limiting saltwater intrusion into freshwater wetlands through management of ditches and water control structures. It will also include planting marsh grasses, cypress forests and building oyster reefs to absorb wave activity. Lessons learned on the Alligator can be used elsewhere on North Carolina’s coast.
Prior to joining the Conservancy, Boutin worked with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, where he helped update the North Carolina Coastal Habitat Protection Plan, which addresses issues such as how climate change may affect coastal fisheries habitat in the state.
“I’ve been working on a lot of the same issues more in theory with coastal habitats,” Boutin says. “This is a wonderful opportunity to actually be able to put the theory into practice – to watch such a large-scale experiment progress; I just couldn’t pass on that opportunity.”
Conservancy Conservation Director Rick Studenmund says Boutin was chosen from a strong pool of candidates. “He has the perfect skill set for this position,” Studenmund explains. “He has both a strong academic background and a great deal of hands-on field experience.”
Boutin, who was born in Delaware but raised in Cary, received a B.S. in Marine Biology from UNC-Wilmington and a Ph.D. in Marine Studies from the University of Delaware. Boutin will work out of the Conservancy’s Nags Head Preserve.
The climate change adaptation project is made possible through a $1 million dollar donation from Duke Energy and a $250,000 donation from Liz and Robert Pungello of Chapel Hill. The Conservancy will raise another $1.75 million to fund the entire project.
MNN is working with The Nature Conservancy to bring you state-by-state environmental information.
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