Charlotte Observer Aug. 5, 2007

McIntyre Creek being rerouted to cut erosion

by KAREN CIMINO

A noticeable amount of red dirt has churned along McIntyre Creek where it runs through the Hornet's Nest Park at Beatties Ford Road.

The $930,000 state project is one of many that the N.C. Ecosystem Enhancement Program and local governments are doing around the state to restore creeks to a more natural flow, which helps reduce creekbed erosion.

Many creeks were straightened in the past by developers and farmers trying to get the most out of their land. But straightened creeks erode faster than naturally flowing ones, said Robin Dolin, project manager on the McIntyre Creek project.

"McIntyre Creek is a very flashy system," she said. "Water levels rise and fall very quickly. That type of system is very hard on creek banks. The creek continues to erode."

McIntyre Creek had become very deep, Dolin said.

"It was cut deep and straight so water wouldn't always overflow into the flood plain," she said. "It was going so fast and there was so much of it, it was becoming a safety hazard for the park."

Dolin said the park has a disc golf course that runs along the creek. Neighborhoods line the other side of the creek.

"Kids were crossing the creek to get to the park," Dolin said. "The deeper the creek got and the more vertical the banks got, the more dangerous it got."

Dolin said the state is digging a new channel that snakes through the park, and is filling in the old channel with that dirt. The new channel will reduce the amount of flash flooding and erosion along the creekbed, she said.

The McIntyre Creek project was scheduled to be finished by July 7, but rain caused delays to the project. Dolin said she expects to finish it within the next three weeks.