Biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will begin work today on a $29,000 project to stabilize and restore the banks and streamside areas (riparian zones) along 2,700 linear feet of Meadow Fork, Little Glade and Peak creeks.
In the first stage of the stream-restoration work, biologists will re-shape the banks by flattening the steep banks.
This will allow floodwaters to spread out into low, flat areas next to the streams, reducing bank erosion.
Once the banks have been re-shaped, they will plant native species of trees, shrubs and grasses, using the vegetation to protect both sides of the streams.
The streamside vegetation will control runoff caused by flooding, help hold soil in place, filter out pollutants, provide shade to cool the streams and offer cover and refuge for animals.
"During flood events, vegetation along the streambanks slows the water, causing it to lose energy and thus reduces bank scouring," explained Jim Borawa, watershed enhancement group supervisor for the Wildlife Commission.
"In addition, sediment being carried by the water settles on the streambank rather than being deposited on the stream bottom and damaging the aquatic habitat."
Enhancing the streams and surrounding habitat will help clean the water and the air to improve the health of fish, wildlife and North Carolinians, Borawa added.
"Trout thrive in clean, clear water. Likewise, many terrestrial animals, such as songbirds and salamanders, live along the banks and depend on permanent vegetation for food and cover," Borawa said.
"These areas also are used as travel corridors by wildlife, such as river otters and raccoons, to allow them safe access to the stream."
Stream-restoration efforts are part of the N.C. Wildlife Action Plan, which conserves fish, wildlife and habitats before they become rare and more costly to protect.
This project - a component of the Wildlife Action Plan - is being conducted through an agreement between the Wildlife Commission and the Blue Ridge Parkway-National Park Service.
Slated for completion by the end of August, the project is being funded by the Parkway and through a grant by the N.C. Wildlife Habitat Foundation with matching monies provided by several chapters of Trout Unlimited, including the Nat Green, Blue Ridge, Rocky River and Stone Mountain.
"The Wildlife Commission and the Habitat Foundation have been searching for a cooperative project like this for a number of years," Borawa said. "The fact that the Foundation approved the grant and the
Trout Unlimited chapters eagerly contributed to the project is testament to the strong relationship among these conservation organizations and their commitment to improve fish and wildlife habitat."
For more information on the Wildlife Commission's stream-restoration efforts or the N.C. Wildlife Action Plan, contact the Division of Inland Fisheries, (919) 733-3633.