City of Jacksonville Stormwater & Habitat Manager, Pat Donovan-Potts has been named the Conservationist of the Year by the Onslow Bay Coastal Conservation Association.
The Award came at the Annual Chapter Banquet for the organization in Swansboro and was a surprise to Donovan-Potts.
“I am so honored to be recognized for the work that is being done by the City of Jacksonville and our many partners, including the Onslow Bay Coastal Conservation Association,” said Pat Donovan-Potts after receiving the award. “This a tribute to the work of the City, to those who have worked with us for many years, and to those who had the vision to see that the New River could be a sustainable habitat.”
Donovan-Potts has been most recently working on a project to create a New River Oyster Highway. The goal is to build 6 one-acre oyster reefs in the New River that will dramatically improve water quality and increase habitat.
The Onslow Bay Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association is a major supporter of the effort. Senator Harry Brown won $100,000 worth of funding from the State Legislature to start the oyster highway.
Donovan-Potts was presented with a $100,000 check from the Chapter at the banquet. The chapter matched a $50,000 donation from Grady White Boats also made at the banquet.
Donovan-Potts is the lead project manager for the project. Dr. Susan Cohen of DSERP, Dr. Nils Linquist and Dr. Joel Fodrie of the UNC Institute of Marine Science in Morehead City are also involved. It also is supported by the NC Wildlife Habitat Foundation which allocated $200,000 to the project.
The project falls within the mission of the Coastal Conservation Association of North Carolina which is an advocacy group for recreational fisherman and a watchdog for coastal fisheries.
Donovan-Potts began her work with conservation while working with NC State University who was contracted to help develop the plans for the 1998 funded clean-up of the New River using oysters, aeration, wetlands restoration and stormwater mitigation. When the project funding ended, she came to work with the City of Jacksonville to continue the restoration effort and manage stormwater pollution of the river.