LOCAL WATERSHED PROJECT
Between July 2005 and October 2007,
the North Carolina Ecosystem Enhancement Program (EEP) undertook a local
watershed planning process in the Peachtree-Martins Creek watershed.
Its goals were to: (1) assess stream quality in the watershed,
identifying key sources of degradation and pollution, and (2) develop a
comprehensive strategy to address watershed needs. The
Peachtree-Martins Creek Local
Watershed Plan is the final product of this initiative.
Click map to
THIS AREA SELECTED?
The Peachtree-Martins Creek watershed
was chosen for study for several reasons:
It's location within a
larger area that includes the upper Hiwassee River, Valley
River, and Brasstown Creek that is characterized by diverse
and important aquatic resources.
Strong local support for
improving conditions this larger area, with the Hiwassee
River Watershed Coalition taking the lead on restoring and
enhancing streams and rivers.
EEP needed to select a
focus area in the Hiwassee River basin to mitigate for NC
Department of Transportation impacts to streams and
A core watershed
planning team included the NC Ecosystem Enhancement Program, the NC
Division of Water Quality, Equinox Environmental Consultation & Design
and the Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition. A local advisory
committee also assisted; the members are listed below. Two public
meetings were held at Tri-County Community College to inform citizens
and enlist their support.
Core Watershed Planning Team
Ecosystem Enhancement Program (EEP), a program within NC
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, is responsible for
mitigation of impacts to streams, wetlands, and riparian areas by NC
Department of Transportation and other development projects on a
watershed level. EEP was the lead organization on the
Peachtree-Martins Creek Local Watershed Plan.
Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition (HRWC) served as the
key local partner, performing outreach with the local community and
managing the Local Advisory Committee.
Equinox Environmental Consultation
a private firm from Asheville, was the lead technical group for the
watershed study, developing the Watershed Management Plan and other
NC Division of Water Quality (DWQ)
performed detailed assessments of stream integrity, including fish,
aquatic macroinvertebrate monitoring, and water chemistry monitoring.
Valley Authority provided mapping data and information on watershed
pollutant sources in its Integrated Pollution Source Identification
Involvement in Watershed Planning
Ever since the project’s initial assessment phase began in summer 2005,
local involvement in the development of the Peachtree-Martins Creek
Watershed Plan has been high. The Hiwassee River Watershed
Coalition (HRWC) was hired to facilitate public input throughout the
multi-year life of the project. HRWC’s awareness of key water
quality issues and established relationships with local government and
agency personnel greatly assisted the planning team in developing a
locally-relevant plan that not only meets EEP’s goals for the project
but is also useful to other watershed stakeholders.
One major way that local public input was obtained throughout the
planning process was through a Local Advisory Committee (LAC). The
purpose of the LAC was to:
Provide a local
(a majority of
LAC members live within the county),
issues to be
addressed during the watershed assessment and within the final
strategies associated with plan implementation,
areas for implementation, and
as a liaison
between EEP and the larger local community.
LAC members and the agencies represented are as follows:
Badger, County Manager
Carson, District Conservationist
Resources Conservation Service
Fraley, Aquatic Non-game Coordinator
Wildlife Resources Commission
Moore, Executive Director
River Watershed Coalition
Stiles, Ag Cost Share Technician
Co. Soil & Water Conservation District
Wood, Agricultural Extension Agent
Cooperative Extension, Cherokee County Center
Ten meetings of the Local Advisory Committee were held over the 2-year
period between the beginning of the initial watershed characterization
in August 2005 and the finalization of the watershed plan in August
2007. Members received presentations of data, assessment findings
and recommendations, as well as drafts of the Preliminary Findings &
Recommendations Report, the Watershed Assessment Report and the
Watershed Plan. In turn, the planning team received input related
to further data collection and assessment, local issues to be addressed,
comments on documents, and recommended management strategies for
THE PROJECT ACCOMPLISHED?
The project was divided into three
Existing information on stream health, watershed land use, and threats
to stream integrity was gathered by HRWC and Equinox Environmental into
a Preliminary Findings and Recommendations Report. A plan for
further study was then developed based on this existing information and
the input of the Local Advisory Committee.
Preliminary Findings and
Recommendations Report (January 2006)
Detailed assessment of the watershed was performed by the core team,
including intensive monitoring of stream organisms, water chemistry,
habitat, and stability and detailed mapping of watershed attributes such
as land use, impervious cover, and pollution sources. Problem
areas and causes of stream degradation were identified.
Watershed Assessment Report
A plan to protect and restore the watershed was developed, naming
specific strategies to address causes of stream degradation and
prioritizing restoration activities and areas. With the Local
Advisory Committee’s oversight, this Watershed Management Plan was
developed to address both ecological and community priorities.
Watershed Management Plan
A public meeting was
held on October 18, 2007 where the finalized Watershed Management Plan
was presented for the first time. EEP and the Hiwassee River
Watershed Coalition will work to raise awareness about the results of
the study and to implement various aspects of the plan. DWQ and
other agencies will conduct follow-up sampling in the area, particularly
associated with stormwater runoff and groundwater contamination in the