By Mark S. Kenna
Sept. 25, 2013. Heavy rain over the past eight months has caused erosion in streambeds and creeks all over the High Country; because of this, a High Country nonprofit is helping to repair the damage.
The National Committee for the New River (NCNR) is a local nonprofit with over 850 donors that fixes eroded stream and creek beds. But, because of the heavy rainfall this summer they’re looking at over 5 miles of restorations all other the High Country.
“We have an inordinate amount of projects going on this year,” NCNR President George Santucci, said. “I have not seen this much work in the past nine years, not since the back-to-back hurricanes that hit in 2004.”
Right now, the committee is working off of N.C. 105 along Hodges Creek, the stream that runs next to Animal Emergency & Pet Care Clinic of the High Country. The NCNR is restoring a 300-foot section of the creek with grant money from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF), a grant-awarding body of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources that contracted the project to Brushy Fork Environmental Consulting Inc., a Mountain City, Tenn., company.
The project is estimated to cost around $30,000, David Linzey, owner of Animal Emergency & Pet Care Clinic, said.
“In January heavy rains caused the stream that runs in front of the clinic to loose 20 to 25 feet of its bank,” Linzey said. “The rain over the summer has continually been bringing the stream closer to the building.”
“We wanted to wait on restoring the stream bank, but Mother Nature changed that,” Linzey added.
Brushy plans to bring the bank of the stream to a more natural angle then install structures to help stop the erosion and restore the degraded stream bank. Stabilizing structures will be installed to create pockets of slow moving water that will collect sediment.
To stop any future erosion of Hodges Creek, Brushy Fork Environmental Consulting, once the project is complete, will re-vegetate the bank with silky dogwood, silky willows, elderberry, ninebark and alder, Adam Williams, owner of Brushy Fork Environmental Consulting, said.
The project should be done by the end of this week, Adams added.
Because NCNR is a nonprofit owners of the land they’re working on usually pay 20 to 50 percent to help with the restoration process. For this project off N.C. 105, Linzey and NCNR are splitting the cost down the middle.
For the 2012 grant cycle the NCNR received $400,000 from the CWMTF for restoration projects in Watauga County.
In the 1960s when a dam project was proposed in Grayson County, Va., a grassroots movement developed in opposition to the dam. The dam, if built, would have flooded over 42,000 acres of farming and residential land in Ashe and Allegheny counties and would have displaced at a minimum 2,700 people, 893 dwellings, 42 summer cabins, 10 industrial establishments, 23 commercial facilities, five post offices, 15 churches and 12 cemeteries. This grassroots movement led to the recognition of the New River as a state park and eventually the creation of the NCNR.
After the efforts of Sen. Sam Ervin (D-NC), Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) and Steve Neal (D-NC) on Sept. 11, 1976, President Gerald Ford commissioned the New River as a nationally recognized scenic river. The NCNR incorporated in 1991 as a nonprofit.
In 1997, the Clean Water Management Trust Fund began to working with the NCNR by awarding stream restoration and river building projects.
“There have been multiple grants awarded to the NCNR over the past 17 years,” Tom Massie, western field representative for the CWMTF, said.