Smoky Mountain News Jan. 9, 2008

Property wanted for free streambank restoration effort

Got a creek across your property and live in Jackson County? If so, the state would like to talk.

The state is looking for a handful of property owners willing to have their creek banks restored. The work can consist of shoring up eroding stream banks with rocks and plantings or redesigning the stream channel with the aim of enhancing aquatic habitat. It will cost landowners nothing.

The creek bank projects are required mitigation by the Department of Transportation. The DOT has several road projects on the horizon that will impact creeks. In exchange, the DOT has to pay to fix up a comparable amount of creek elsewhere in the same watershed — namely the Tuckasegee watershed.

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources is in charge of the stream projects. Ideally, they are looking for landowners with at least 800 feet of creek through their property.

Not only is all the work free, but the property owner can actually get cash for participating. Property owners have to promise not to develop a 30-foot buffer along the creek after the work is done. In exchange for placing that 30-foot buffer in an easement, the state will compensate the property owner.

The program is called the Ecosystem Enhancement Program. Call Paul Wiesner at 828.273.1673 if you’re interested.