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GIBS is dedicated to conservation of nature whether it is land, air or water (ocean, lakes, estuaries and rivers) and fully devoted to the fundamental principles of conservation as envisaged by President Theodore Roosevelt who created the National Parks. GIBS follows the example of Rachel Carson who prevented the irreversible damages done to birds and all organisms adversely impacted by DDT. GIBS was founded as a non-profit organization (501-C-3) in 2000 by conservation biologist and marine ecologist Prof. Robert Y. George. Dr. George taught hundreds of students at baccalaureate, Master?s and Ph. D. levels at American Universities such as University of Washington, Duke University, Florida State University and University of North Carolina at Wilmington. GIBS is affiliated with European institutions like the Kristineberg Marine Research Station, operated by the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences that award the Nobel Prizes. Central to the purpose of GIBS is the promotion or christian stewardship of the created order on the Earth in light of declining biodiversity, ongoing climate change, the lack of sustainable utilization of natural resources, as well as to uphold such stewardship for the goal of glorifying God, who is the Creator and Sustainer of the Earth.
2011 UPDATE: GIBS AWARDED A NEW GRANT
Z. SMITH REYNOLDS FOUNDATION IN WINSTON
SALEM, NC, FUNDS ?FALLS LAKE CHRISTIAN
CREATION STEWARDSHIP PROJECT?
Falls Lake Watershed is the umbilical cord for the ?Research Triangle Area? in North Carolina, providing drinking water for nearly half a million people. But the future looks dismal since Falls Lake is so polluted with over-loading of nitrogen and phosphorus, originating from waste water treatment plants, new developments in Raleigh and Durham cities and agricultural run-offs. Federal Clean Water Act and the NC state water quality standards require the lower part (near-Raleigh) of the Falls Lake to be cleaned up within 10 years (2011-2022), as per rules approved for Falls lake Clean-up by the NC Environmental Management Commission. This stipulation means that we need to cut nitrogen by 40 to 50 % and phosphorus by 80%. Can we reach this goal? If so, how can GIBS help?
There have been serious efforts, primarily initiated by the ?Ecosystem Enhancement Program? to reduce the nitrogen load in the Neuse River Basin. Unfortunately the nitrogen budget reduction around the Falls Lake fell short of what is needed. In the Jordan Lake, which provides drinking water for Cary, Apex, Morrisville and parts of Chatham county, developers contributed funds to pollution reduction projects. Jordan Lake is located in Cape Fear River basin whereas Falls Lake is located in the Neuse River basin and its deltaic region, the Pamlico Sound west of the Outer Banks. Neuse River originates in Wake County. Recent booms in development in Wake and Durham counties significantly added enormous nutrient pollution stress to False Lake. However, Wake County has only two nitrogen reduction projects while there are 22 nitrogen reduction projects east of Falls Lake. The contribution from Wake county developers only accounts for $ 181,000 which is only a small cost of the mitigation within the watershed.
In the mid-90s, the Neuse River basin faced an acute nitrogen over-load because of the stimulated growth in the Triangle areas and the increased swine operations (hog farms) in the watershed. In the past decade, there have been several fish-kills attributed to nutrient over-loading, commonly called eutrophication. This eutrophication purportedly led to incidence of hypoxia (low oxygen) and even anoxia (no oxygen).
In 1998, NC General Assembly passed legislation to charge developers $11 per pound of expected nitrogen pollution to pay for the projects. The Environmental management Commission (EMC) increased the amount to $57 in 2006. Homebuilders were unhappy about the hike in the so called nitrogen fee. GIBS argues that we failed to give equal importance to Falls Lake and the eastern stretch of the Neuse River in locating the nitrogen reduction project.
Historically the Falls Lake reservoir was built in 1983 by the Army Corps of Engineers with the construction of a dam for the purpose of providing drinking water for the residents of Raleigh, Knightdale, Garner, Wake Forest, Wendell and Zebulon. Former Senator Jesse Helms played a key role in getting federal support to build the Falls Lake Dam. Falls Lake is also major recreational resource for the people living around this vast body of water which is home for important recreational fish species such as the ?Largemouth bass?. The Lake is also aesthetically an asset for resident visiting the lake beaches for family picnics or boating.
There has been a reported loss of biodiversity in the Falls Lake. American eels are no longer as abundant as it used to be. Many fresh water clam species became extinct. However, there have been some success in the introduction of exotic species of fresh water clams in the Falls Lake (Personal Communication, Dr. Arthur Bogan, Natural History Museum, Raleigh, NC).
Researchers in the North Carolina State University have studied the population size of large fish over a decade and GIBS plans to work with these fisheries biologists to improve the freshwater fish stock of the largemouth bass in the Falls Lake. Likewise, GIBS has plans to work with the most important member of the bass family the so called stripe bass, known scientifically as Morone saxatilis, also called ?temperate? or ?true bass? which is a migratory species moving in and out of the Atlantic ocean and occupying the North Carolina estuaries like Pamlico Sound and the rivers such as Neuse River that feed the sound. This highly-priced is caught in the land-locked lakes Gaston or Kerr Lake. Once heavily fished the striped bass stocks have rebounded strongly in the recent years. In recent hybrid studies, striped bass have been genetically altered to suit fresh water life and such studies are contemplated in this Falls Lake Project.
Who Is Responsible For Falls Lake Management?
To meet the federal and state water quality standards and compliance, the entire lake needs to be cleaned up by adhering to regulatory policy. The timeline for the policy should reach complete cleanup by 2035 during the course of the growth of the so called Z-Generation (People born after 1990). However, we need to initiate Phase One (2011 to 2020) right now.
Questions that are emerging to solve the problem include: Should we continue to curtail the storm-water runoff by maintaining huge detention basins? Should we impose innovative ?Low Impact Developments? (LID) to keep storm water on the site rather than flowing into streams by reducing or eliminating impermeable surface? ?WakeUp Wake County?, a non-profit organization is collaborating with the George Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability (GIBS), to recommend that ?In the Falls Lake watershed, where soils are especially susceptible to erosion, shifting new and existing developments toward original hydrology is one key to restoring the lake health?.
Falls Lake -with its northwestern and southern branches - is surrounded by Durham county with Eno River and Ellerbe Creek feeding the lake with nitrogen and phosphorus from rural and suburban sources and occasional leakages from failed sewage systems and even trace element input from sewage treatment plants, besides storm-water flows from developments. Durham city adds the typical urban constraints. Much of the eastern part of the Falls Lake is surrounded by Wake County with Neuse River at its southeastern extremity. The city of Raleigh gives an urban signature to the lake with its associated developments, businesses, schools, government complexes and open spaces. The third and predominantly rural community, Granville county, is located along the northern most edge of the Falls Lake. There are seven beach and recreation areas in the Falls Lake for the benefit of societal use of this natural resource.
What Is The Big Picture?
Falls Lake is at the extreme western tip of the long winding Neuse River that flows east. In Washington city is the confluence of two rivers, Pamlico and Tar. The Neuse River flows seaward toward Newbern and eventually widens to help form the Pamlico Sound that is the second largest estuary, next to the Chesapeake Bay on the East coast. The Falls Lake Project is essentially the first phase (2011-2012) and the second phase (2013-2016) is yet to be developed.
Enlisting New Stakeholders.
In the big picture, the Falls Lake governance should include new stakeholders like the churches around the lake area. Of course, there are several stakeholders who need to cooperate for prudent stewardship.
The George Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability (GIBS; www.gibsconservation.org), in collaboration with CFC (L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; www.centerforfaithandculture.com), and ODBC (Open Door Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC; www.opendoorlife.com) have now initiated the Falls Lake ?Christian Stewardship for Created Order? (CSCO) with seed money from Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation in the year 2011-2012.
The primary aim of this project is to be proactive with the public policy process that is clearly illustrated below. It is stepwise: (1) scan the landscape for baseline data (2) identify critical issues and problems (3) define leadership roles (4) develop focus and working Groups (5) conduct stakeholders and community forums and (6) develop Action Plan through an executive committee. What is visibly missing in this policy formula is the absence of the church. Such communities constitute the sizable demography in the Falls Lake Area that include numerous denominations.
We have successfully developed a process that emulate already tested ?Listening project? developed by Mr. Herb Walters of Yancey County in the Appalachian region of North Carolina. We realize that Yancey County embraces predominantly rural areas while the Triangle or Piedmont region of North Carolina is primarily an urban landscape, Nevertheless, the concept of church community action through 10 identified churches is the central focus of this Christian Stewardship Project, described below.
Our Unique Church-Based Falls Lake Restoration Goals
World-renowned theologian Francis Schaeffer wrote in his 1972 Book ?Pollution: Death of Man? the following: ?Mean?s answer to his question (What is man?s relation to nature)? is found in his proposition that our ecological problem exists because of Christianity". He laid the blame squarely on Christianity as such, which has in its intrinsic nature (on his premise), created and sustained the ecological problems. Schaeffer argues that the hippies of the 60s were right in fighting the plastic culture. He sided with the counterculture because the machine is eating up the nature. But he differed with this hippie culture for taking up Zen Buddhism as mode of confronting the ongoing environmental problems. Schaeffer?s fundamental concern is the intrusion of the Eastern ?Pantheism? into the western world
Solution to any environmental problem is not simple and is multifaceted and has added complexity induced by lack of funding and conflicts of interest. The decision-making process is clouded with controversies between cities (Durham vs. Raleigh), counties, state and various government agency jurisdictions; municipal, state and federal. The numerous churches and pastors in the Falls Lake watershed are seldom included in the public decision-making process. However, the Falls Lake project places the ?Triune God? on the top of the pyramid, as illustrated below in the ?Project Flow-Chart .
The second line of responsibility is an interconnected horizontal organization enterprise with GIBS, ODBC and CFC as the top coordinators of the Falls Lake project. Respectively led by (1) Prof. Robert Y. George (President of GIBS and Science Consultant to CFC, (2) Pastor Dr. Dwayne Milioni, Senior Pastor of ODBC and (3) Dr. Bruce Little, Executive Director of CFC.
The third line of responsibility comes from the ?Steering Committee of the Falls Lake Project co-chaired by (1) Dr. George of GIBS and (2) Pastor Dwayne of ODBC Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary(SEBTS) in Wake Forest, NC and four other members: (3) Mr. Seth Bible, (4) Rev. Donnie McDaniel and (5) Mr. Shaun Robinson and (6) Michael Carter, all from SEBTS. This steering committee will be directly linked to ?The Listening Project (Mr. Herb Waters (www. listeningproject.org) who has previous experience in church-based environmental stewardship projects with a successful ongoing effort in Yancey County in the mountain region of North Carolina. Dr. George (GIBS), as Principal Investigator of the Falls Lake Project funded by the Z.. Smith Reynolds Foundation, will also interact with the Army Corps of Engineers who manage the Falls Lake Dam in times of flood or drought conditions, NC Environmental Management Commission (EMC), NC DENR-Division of Water Quality, WakeUp Wake NGO and the North Carolina State University with participation in the ?Advisory Council for NC Environment and Infrastructure? of the Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI). The Steering committee also includes two exoffcio members; (1) Prof. Regginal Harrell, Professor of Environmental Science and Technology at the University of Maryland and (2) Mr. Thomas Rowley, Executive Director of A Rocha USA, a Christian Conservation organization.
Assistant Pastor Kevin Jones (ODBC) will serve as the Communications Consultant and will report in the GIBS website all the progress of the Falls Lake project, including the questions posed to the pastors and their responses during the interview process.
The grass root efforts for the Falls Lake Project, as shown in the ?Flow Chart? above come from the ?Pastor Interview Process? that are conducted by members of the steering committee. Each interviewer, will be accompanied by a junior member (mostly from SEBTS or ODBC). Five Interview Teams will be trained by Mr. Walters of the Listening Project. Each team will interview pastors of two churches from the list of selected Baptist Churches in the vicinity of the Falls Lake. These ten churches and their respective pastors are given below:.
What do we foresee from Christian stewardship?
Since the dawn of the 21st century, we have seen more and more abuse of the environment with (A) increased habitat destruction with vast loss of space by developments and deforestation (B) over-harvesting (over-fishing)to the point that several species are pushed too close to extinction (C) our use of the common property such as lakes and rivers took us to the path where the name of the game is: ?TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS?, as theologian Francis Schaefer explained in his book: ?Pollution: Death of Man?.
We have induced nutrient pollution (N and P) to a critical condition in the Falls Lake and Neuse River ecosystems, (D) Climate change, with enhanced frequency of hurricanes, sea-level increase (SLI), warming coupled with subtle acidification (drop in pH), is imposing stress to the lake (Falls Lake) , riverine (Neuse River) and estuarine (Pamlico Sound) ecosystems and this change calls for societal adaptations. How then we respond to the situation A to D, discussed above?.
Solutions to these problems in the 2nd decade of the 21st century (2010 ? 2020) should depend on seeking a reversal of the trend as we see it now. The answer boils down to: (A) consumers must act responsibly and (B) governments (management) must also act responsibly.
Thus far, we have left God out of the picture. The Falls Lake Project includes God the Creator as the central focus (see Project Flow Chart above). In the South (the so called Bible-belt) there are numerous churches of many denominations. In 2011-2012, we are getting 10 pastors of churches around the Falls Lake to initiate an effort we define as ?Theoecology? (i.e., Merging the study of ecology with christian theology). Within the second decade of the 21st century we will focus on reversing the trend of rapid decline of biodiversity (Created Order) from the irreversible course it has now taken.
Church-based restoration activities have been recently witnessed after the 2011 tornadoes struck the Raleigh-Wake Forest area in the vicinity of the Falls Lake.. Houses were destroyed and people displaced. ?North Carolina Baptist men?s group came forward to assist the clean up efforts after the tornadoes on April 14. The ?Falls Lake Christian Stewardship Project? is the first step in the 2nd decade of the 21st century for ?taking a path less traveled?.
WHAT IS NEXT?
Prof. George (chairman of the Steering Committee) and Pastor Dwayne (co-chair of the steering committee) have now confirmed the following churches as participants in the Falls Lake ?Christian Stewardship for Created Order (CSCO)?
1. Open Door of Raleigh, NC with Pastor Dwayne Milioni
2. Christ Covenant of Raleigh, NC with Pastor Tom Mercer
3. Stony Hill Baptist of Raleigh, NC with Pastor Jamie Dew
4. Christ our Hope of Wake Forest, NC with Pastor Scott Cook
We will approach 2 other pastors of African American Baptist Churches in the vicinity of Falls Lake to be included in the interview process in 2011 (November ?December). This decision is in support of the Ms. Leslie Winner?s (Executive Director of the Z.Smith Reynolds Foundation) letter to Dr. George, President of The George Institute ( 2011 grantee of Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation) to support the new initiative of the Foundation to improve the ?Racial Inequity? in the state of North Carolina.
On July 6, 2011 The ?Steering Committee? met at the Open Door Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC and the meeting included 2 presentations, first by Dr. George on the ?Importance of putting God first in our thoughts, plans, and action in relation to our environment, especially Falls Lake and also the importance of ?THEOECOLOGY? in bridging and welding the two disciplines, Science and Theology. The second presentation by Mr. Herb Walters focused on the ?Listening Project? (LP) with descriptions of ?Active Deep-Listening?, Characteristics of Good Listening, LP Team structure, Development of A Purpose Statement and the Pastor Interview Process.
The strategic plan and the timeline are as follows:
1. The ?LP Interview Process? will be firmed up in the steering committee meeting on October 29, 2011 and the pastors? interviews, each for one hour duration, will take place in November ?December, 2011.
2. The steering committee chairman Prof. George and co-chairman Pastor Dwayne will meet with the ten pastors and steering committee in January 2012 to arrive at a list of recommendations for initiating ?Dialogue Project (DP) in the second part of the Falls Lake ?Christian Stewardship for Create Order? (CSCO). As explained in the original proposal to Reynolds Foundation, the ?Dialogue Project? (DP) will be the responsibility of Prof. Robert George who, in collaboration with Prof.Bruce Little, Executive Director of the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture (CFC) of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC, will conduct ?Round-Table Discussions? with WakeUp Wake (NGO), North Carolina State University Bass Fish Research Team, Division of Water Quality (DENR),Raleigh City Government ?Falls Lake Water Treatment Plants Operators, Environmental Defense (NGO), Nicolas School of Environment (Duke University,Committee on North Carolina Environment and Infrastructure, Institute for Emerging Issues (NCSU),Army Corps of Engineers, Upper Neuse River Keeper, and Environmental Management Commission (NC General Assembly).
3. In May 2012, a workshop on ?Falls Lake ?Christian Stewardship for Created Order (CSCO)? will be held at CFC. A ?Final Report? will be submitted in May 2012 by GIBS to the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation with a renewal proposal for continuation of the project as Phase II (2013-2016).
From Left to Right: Hon. Timothy Keeney, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Ocean and Atmosphere, NOAA, Department of Commerce, Prof. Robert Y. George, President and CEO, George Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability and Dr. William Hogarth, Dean, College of Marine Science, University of South Florida (Formerly Assistant Secretary for Fisheries, NOAA) at the ?Ocean Acidification Workshop? in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on July 9, 2008.
George Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability (GIBS) successfully conducted the ?Ocean Acidification Workshop? at the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium on July 9, 2008 at Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Prof. Bob George (GIBS), Dr. Richard Feeley (NOAA), Dr. Chris Langdon (RSMAS, University of Miami) and Prof. John Reed (HBOI, Florida Atlantic University) organized the workshop, participated by 50 scientists and managers from 7 nations (42 representing USA). A ?White Paper? will be prepared with recommendations for research priorities and funding and will be submitted to the ? Ocean Studies Board? of the US National Academy of Sciences in September 2008. The same ?White Paper? will also be presented to the OCB (Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry Committee). In addition, GIBS will prepare a DVD and a ?Technical Report? for the purpose of promoting education and outreach, for enhancing public knowledge about the environmental impact at marine and coastal ecosystem levels on coral reefs (both tropical and deep-sea coral reefs). Prof. George will participate in the 4th Deep-Sea Coral Symposium in Wellington, New Zealand from December 1-5, 2008 and will make the results of the ?Florida Ocean Acidification Workshop? available to international deep-sea coral scientific community, UN agencies (UNEP, FAO) and National Government managers and decision-makers, and NGOs such as IUCN, PEW-Charitable Trust, WWF, Oceana etc.
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS BY GIBS PRESIDENT PROF.
GIBS President Prof. Bob George (BG1) is now appointed as Adjunct Professor of Marine Biology and Fisheries at the prestigious Rosenstiel School of Marine And Atmospheric Sciences, University of Miami, starting Oct. 2, 2007. He will work with the world-renowned coral expert Prof. Bob Ginsburg (BG2) who will be an honorary adviser on deep-sea coral conservation issues. Dr. George will also collaborate with Prof. John Reed of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute of the Florida Atlantic University to develop a ?Deep-Sea Coral Conservation Program? for the Seascape off Southeastern USA and the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. George, along with Dr. Chris Langdon, has also initiated a research project on ?Impact of Ocean Acidification on Deep-sea corals? with first in situ and lab. experiments on Lophelia pertusa, most common reef-builders in the deep-sea.
|Prof. Robert Ginsburg (RG2)and Prof. Robert George (RG1)|
?GIBS Harvard Declaration Conference? in 2006 paved the way for the creation of the ?USA Deep-Sea Coral Board? under the jurisdiction of JSOST (Joint Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology) of the White Houses? Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). This board is a federal interagency group and will play a major role on both science and management of the newly discovered deep-sea coral ecosystems within the US EEZs.
|B.||GIBS will conduct a workshop on ?Impact of Ocean Acidification on Tropical and Deep-sea Cold-corals? with Dr. Chris Langdon of RSMAS and Dr. Dick Feely of NOAA during the upcoming 11 International Coral Reef Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (July 7-11, 2008). Interested participants should contact GIBS (910-799-4722 or firstname.lastname@example.org|
|C.||Miami 2005 deep-Sea Coral Symposium proceedings are now published as 2 Volumes: 1. ?Conservation and Adaptive Management of Seamount and Deep-Sea Coral Ecosystems?, 323 pages and 2 ?Deep-Sea Coral ecosystems: Biology and Geology?, Bulletin of Marine Science Vol. 81, No 3: 307-559, both edited by Robert Y. George (GIBS) and Stephen D. Cairns (Smithsonian Institution).|
|D.||MMS (Mineral Management Services) of the Department of Interior has awarded a to GIBS to produce the ?Miami Deep-Sea Coral Symposium Executive Summary?, with recommendations for research and adaptive management of deep-sea coral ecosystems.|