Boone Mountain Times Dec. 1, 2005

Greenway Restoration Project To Continue

By Frank Ruggiero

The Boone Greenway has long been recognized as an ideal spot for jogging,
bicycling or a leisurely stroll.

The extensive trail leads its visitors throughout the town of Boone and, in
parts, along the South Fork of the New River. It was the idyllic trail that
caught Wendy Patoprsty’s attention. More specifically, it was the status of
the stream and banks that raised her eyebrows.

Though the Army Corps of Engineers funded restoration of 1,500 linear feet
from the Hunting Hills Bridge towards upstream the Greenway’s covered
bridge, funding was dropped, leaving the town of Boone responsible for
completing the rather extensive second phase of the project.

This is where Patoprsty entered the scene. Eager to see the project
completed, Patoprsty, natural resources extension agent with the N.C.
Cooperative Extension Service, contacted Boone mayor pro tem Loretta Clawson
and told her of her interest. Patoprsty met with Clawson on the Greenway and
showed her the eroding banks, one of which has a 10-foot vertical drop.

The two discussed options and potential opportunities to complete the
project, and Clawson expressed her full support on the matter, namely
ecosystem enhancement of the stream. Patoprsty met with Allison
Kemp-Sullivan with Appalachian State University’s design and construction
project to get her opinion on the matter, as the enhancement would take
place where the intramural fields are located, which is ASU property. The
town of Boone owns an easement through that property for the Greenway.

Patoprsty then contacted the Ecosystem Enhancement Program (EEP), which
receives funding from the N.C. Department of Transportation mitigation funds
to protect the natural resources of North Carolina.

“They compensate for the developmental impacts on the watershed level,”
Patoprsty explained. “And they get credit for doing environmental
enhancement projects.”

She spoke with EEP project manager Julie Vann, who visited Boone to
personally examine the situation. The town loaned Patoprsty and Vann a
canoe, and the two traveled down the South Fork, examining the stream and
completing assessments.

“She said this is a project EEP would be interested in funding,” Patoprsty
was pleased to say, adding that EEP will fully fund the project, which was
originally estimated to be $1.3 million.

Patoprsty doesn’t think the final bill will amount to that much, since it’s
not a full restoration. Since the design phase was already completed when
the Army Corps of Engineers was going to provide funding, the project is
already that much closer to getting started.

Patoprsty said the project will first have to go out to bid for
construction, and that she hopes to see actual work begin mid- to
late-summer 2006.

“Since it’s not a full-blown restoration, which would change the whole
section, we’ll slope back the banks, plant native vegetation and install a
few grade control structures, such as cross-vanes and J-hooks,” Patoprsty
said. “To prevent further erosion, these will help keep the velocity of the
water in the center of the channel, and they also help provide habitats by
creating pools and riffle conditions.”

These habitats would be ideal for macroinvertibrates and their predators,
such as trout. Futhermore, Patoprsty said the control measures would help
the pools remain present for long periods of time.

The banks will also receive a natural form of stabilization from native
vegetation.

“Vegetation is one of the most important aspects of the stream bank,”
Patoprsty said. The plants’ roots provide bank stabilization, while the
plant plays its part in the food chain by dropping leaves into the stream,
which feed the macroinvertibrates, which in turn feed the fish.

Patoprsty has been asked many questions about the project, the most common
being, “Will it help with flooding?” Patoprsty answers, “Not necessarily,
but it will keep the river bank stable during a flood event.”

However, the creation of three wetlands will help minimize the impact of
floods. Two wetlands will be created by the storm water outfalls near the
intramural fields. Pollutants from the field runoff will reach the wetlands,
which will cleanse the runoff before it enters the stream, Patoprsty
explained.

Another wetland area will go near Hunting Hills Lane, in an area that’s
already partially wet. Patoprsty said the project will enhance what wetlands
are already there, adding vegetation to help increase the capacity. Once
complete, she hopes the wetland will serve a use for students to visit and
see what a healthy mountain wetland looks like.

Patoprsty took the plan to Jim Byrne, assistant town manager with the town
of Boone, and spoke with him about the possibility of seeing it through. She
said Byrne suggested going forward with the plan and bringing it to the
Boone Town Council for approval.

She also requested that the town provide in-kind services to construct an
access road, provide a temporary construction easement to the project site,
move a small section of utilities and provide future maintenance.

Since these were the same conditions as with the Army Corps of Engineers,
council unanimously agreed to support the project.

“I’m excited about it,” Patoprsty said. “The Greenway is such a good place
to visit. A lot of community members and visitors alike use it, and this
shows that Boone cares about its waterways. Hopefully, 10 years from now,
all our streams in Boone will be restored.”

For more information, call Patoprsty at the Watauga County office of the
N.C. Cooperative Extension Service at 264-3061.