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April 29th through May 3rd is Air Quality Awareness Week and here in North Carolina, it’s the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the spring weather and our state’s many incredible natural resources.  It’s also a great time to think about our air quality and the actions we can take to keep our air clean.  

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The Department of Environmental Quality is partnering with North Carolina’s leading climate science experts to support the development of the State Climate Science Assessment.  DEQ is leading the effort to produce the climate risk assessment and resiliency plan, as directed by Gov. Cooper’s Executive Order 80, to help the state cabinet agencies evaluate the potential impacts of climate change.

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Last week, Division of Mitigation Services Director Tim Baumgartner participated in a panel at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. where he discussed North Carolina’s nationally renowned in-lieu fee program’s procurement system for stream and wetlands restoration. The conference was hosted by the Environmental Restoration Business Association, and in the hallways of the press club and at a reception on Capitol Hill, North Carolina was a hot topic of discussion.

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Aaron Sebens and his fourth grade class at Central Park School for Children in Durham, took their lessons on energy and the environment to the next level, by launching a crowd-funding campaign to add solar electricity to his classroom. “It went viral and we ended up raising enough money to take our classroom completely off the grid,” Sebens said. “The U.S. Department of Energy made a video about the project  and then-President Barack Obama tweeted about it.”

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Pocosins are naturally-occurring freshwater evergreen shrub wetlands of the southeastern coastal plains with deep, acidic, sandy, peat soils. Pocosins are formed by the accumulation of organic matter, resembling black muck, that is built up over thousands of years in the unique conditions that exist on these wetlands. Several inches to several feet of organic matter can be built up under the correct conditions, making these lands a carbon sink for North Carolina. While pocosins are referred to as wetlands, they are not completely covered in water and support a large mix of wildlife.

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DEQ Secretary Regan was at Fort Caswell on Wednesday to congratulate Tara Whicker for completing the department’s Environmental Education Certification Program and to learn more about Caswell’s educational programming. Whicker is the coastal education assistant coordinator with the Environmental Stewardship Program at Fort Caswell. She helps facilitate field trips and teach K-12 students about coastal ecology and marine biology in a non-formal, outdoor setting.

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“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” ― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!  

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