Town of Columbia wins development award

Published 10:59 am Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Town of Columbia has been selected to receive the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s 2013 Pelican Award for adopting and promoting Low Impact Development strategies.

A letter addressed to Mayor F. Michael Griffin from Todd Miller, the Coastal Federation’s Executive Director reads:

“The North Carolina Coastal Federation selects winners of annual Pelican Awards to recognize and honor exemplary achievements and actions by the great people that help to protect and restore our coast.

Please join us on Saturday, August 3 at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort for the awards luncheon and ceremony. The event will begin with lunch at 12:30 p.m. help to protect and restore our coast.”
Ladd Bayliss, Coastal Advocate for the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s Northeast Regional Office gave some background on the Pelican Awards and the Federation’s work with the Town of Columbia.

“The Pelican Awards annually recognize the effective work of people, businesses, non-profit groups, local and state governments and educators to improve environmental quality on the N.C. coast. Award recipients have demonstrated exemplary commitment and undertaken meaningful actions to protect and restore our coast,” said Bayliss.


When the North Carolina Coastal Federation was founded in 1982, the brown pelican was chosen as the logo to represent the organizational mission – to provide citizens with the assistance needed to take an active role in the wise management of coastal water quality and natural resources.


While designated as a federally endangered species in 1970, brown pelicans along the Atlantic Coast were removed from the endangered species list in 1985 after the pesticide DDT was banned in 1972.

Bayliss said that Columbia had the idea of developing a low-impact development manual for a long time.

“Beginning with work back in 2010, the Town of Columbia passed a resolution supporting the use of Low-Impact Development practices within the town and its limits. For some, that would be enough – but, not Columbia. As a result of incredible collaboration between the Town of Columbia and its 12-member Technical Review Team comprised of local residents, northeastern North Carolina housed its first LID manual by the close of 2012,” said Bayliss.


Through nighttime meetings, email strings and relentless edits, the Town never faltered in its commitment to create a manual that outlined alternative ways to deal with storm-water.


“Today, as the Federation continues to promote Low-Impact Development in the northeast, there are proven, tangible examples of this work as a result of our partnership with the Town of Columbia. Without their willingness to complete such an intensive project, our LID work could not continue as successfully as it has throughout the Northeast (as well as the rest of the state). In this commendable demonstration of environmental leadership, the Town of Columbia has positioned itself as a true model for community involvement and common sense development,” said Bayliss.

Bayliss helped the town create its manual, in addition to the Coastal Federation’s Deputy Director, Lauren Kolodij.


“This was a great project. Lauren’s expertise was invaluable, and the support of the community was incredibly helpful. The Town of Columbia has really set the stage for the way forward, concerning LID in the Northeast,” said Bayliss.

The Coastal Federation has honored Columbia before for its environmental work.

Pat Armstrong, a former Columbia Middle School teacher, was recognized with a Pelican Award from the N.C. Coastal Federation at the organization’s 30th Anniversary Celebration in New Bern on August 4 2012. Pat was chosen for her work with middle school students learning about the effects of storm water runoff. Pat and her students planted a rain garden behind the Columbia High School gym and enthusiastically maintained it.

Armstrong gave then some details regarding the project.

“The plants, topsoil, and mulch needed for the garden came from grant monies that the Coastal Federation applied for and received. The installation and maintenance of the rain garden was taken on by me as a personal project as well as having a partnership with Sara Hallas who came several times each year to help as a resource person in teaching valuable lessons about hydrology for the eighth graders. I worked to motivate students, devising a program that kept the students involved and the garden in top shape. Teams of students were assigned their own 3 x 3 meter sections of the garden to weed and maintain as part of a science project grade. This was rain garden maintenance at its best as students learned by real work experience how important the plants were to absorbing the stormwater runoff. The garden thrives today but is in need of volunteers to continue its success.”