The News Herald July 29, 2005

State Projects Will Restore Burke County Streams And Creeks

By Brianne E. Boykin, The News Herald

MORGANTON -- In the future, some streams in Burke County will look like they did 100 years ago.

The North Carolina EcoSystem Enhancement Program protects natural resources in North Carolina by repairing waterways changed by development.

Julie Vann, project manager for EEP, said every time the Department of Transportation destroys a foot of stream or creek by building a culvert or bridge, the state is required to repair two feet elsewhere on the same stream or creek.

The EEP works on these projects directly and hires contractors to complete the work.

Wetlands Resource Center of Pickerington, Ohio, is working on Bailey Fork Creek behind Kennedy Drive off U.S. 64.

The project started in March. The construction phase should be completed in August or September, said Cal Miller, managing partner of Wetlands Resource Center.

In the fall, workers will return to plant trees.

"We add natural meander back to the stream and plant trees with the goal of making the stream look like it would have 100 years ago," Miller said. "This puts the stream in its natural state and encourages wildlife and fish."

The best reason for adding curves to the stream is to control flooding, Miller said. The meander adds feet to the stream and increases its holding capacity.

"The work is the best way to prevent erosion and reduces destructive flooding," Vann said. "They will grade the flood plain and bench it to prevent a more massive overflow."

The project on U.S. 64 will stretch 5,500 feet. It will cost the state more than $1 million.

Vann said contractors are paid $200 per linear feet for streams and $1,200 an acre for wetlands.

The EEP depends on landowners to allow them to do the environmental work.

Once the work is complete, the stream development on the property is not allowed. And the state is responsible for maintenance.

Future projects include several miles of streams that empty into the Catawba River and Silver Creek as well as part of Bailey Fork Creek on Hopewell Road and State Route 1123 close to the McDowell County line.

BRIANNE E. BOYKIN can be reached by calling (828) 437-2161, Ext. 36 and by e-mail at bboykin@morganton.com. Please read news updates throughout the day at www.morganton.com.