Durham Herald Sun Sep 4, 2005

County to give stream a facelift

By Emily Coakley ecoakley@heraldsun.com

HILLSBOROUGH -- The county will begin restoring Eno River tributary Stillhouse Creek this fall.

Workers will plant native shrubs, trees and other plants along the banks, starting at the Government Services Center on Margaret Lane in Hillsborough and following the stream to the Eno.

"The project has been in the works for some time now," Dave Stancil, Orange County environment and resource conservation director, told commissioners at a work session earlier this week.

In a memo to county officials, Stancil said the project was delayed when the state's Ecosystem Enhancement Program moved from the Transportation Department to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

He also cited budgetary concerns.

"We are in the final stages of getting a bid package together," said Perry Sugg, a project manager with the Ecosystem Enhancement Program. "It should go out in a week or so."

"We're expecting project costs to be less than $300,000," Sugg said Tuesday.

The state is paying for the project.

Planting along the stream should be finished around mid-January.

The project will also add small dams and other objects to Stillhouse Creek to help restore it to a more natural state, said Brent Bogue, Orange County natural resources and conservation director.

Some plants should take hold right away, but others might take years to flourish, Stancil said.

Stillhouse Creek, which is less than a foot wide in places, will always be small, Sugg said. The restoration project won't change its size much.

Commissioner Alice Gordon said she was concerned that dense vegetation around the stream between Margaret Lane and the pedestrian bridge at the Government Services Center could create safety issues.

"It's really very dense," Gordon said, looking at the proposal.

"I wouldn't want to walk through there at night, I'm telling you," Gordon said.

After the meeting, Sugg said that the area Gordon was worried about is a very narrow point in the stream and that appropriate plantings will be added there.

Nothing will be planted within 10 feet of the pedestrian crossings.

The stream now has five crossings. Sugg said the concrete pedestrian bridge at the center will remain, and one of the so-called "Boy Scout bridges" will be moved. The other three bridges will be removed, he said.