Whiteville News Reporter Feb. 5, 2007

Stream restoration under way

Staff Writer

Heavy equipment and state vehicles caught the eye of many local residents who passed by Lebanon Church on U.S. 701 recently.

The J.P. Jones property behind the church was chosen for a state ecosystem enhancement project. The 90-day project included more than 3,000 feet of stream restoration and 37.5 acres of wetlands preservation.

The construction project totaling $465,000 and designed by Stantech Consulting, a Raleigh engineering firm, involved correcting severely eroding banks of a stream that flows into Mill Branch Swamp, said Engineer John Oglesby. The tributary had been channelized or straightened years back and was lacking a wooded vegetative buffer.

“We restored the stream using natural channel design techniques,” said Kristin E. Miguez, project manager with the N.C. Ecosystem Enhancement Program. “The stream channel now has a much wider floodplain to access during rain events and cattle have been fenced from the stream. We are also planting native trees and shrubs along the length of the project.”

The goal of the project is to improve water quality by preventing cattle access to the stream and providing an alternative water source, decreasing sedimentation and improving the habitat for insects and fish.

The state purchased a 6.5-acre conservation easement and slightly less than 66 acres in fee-simple from Jones in order to complete the project. The land purchased will be permanently protected from future development.

The N.C. Department of Transportation identifies such projects to compensate for stream and wetland impacts from road improvement projects.

State tax credits, federal tax deductions, and county tax deductions are incentives for landowners who donate or sell permanent conservation easements to the state.

The conservation easement transfers with the property.

Sale of the property through a fee simple arrangement is least preferred, due to the cost of conducting restoration activities.

For more information about the program visit nceep.net.