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PEACHTREE-MARTINS CREEK 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 enlarge.

WHY WAS 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 wetlands.

   


WHO WAS INVOLVED?

        

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

   

The 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.

    

The 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 and Design, a private firm from Asheville, was the lead technical group for the watershed study, developing the Watershed Management Plan and other supporting documents.

    

The NC Division of Water Quality (DWQ) performed detailed assessments of stream integrity, including fish, aquatic macroinvertebrate monitoring, and water chemistry monitoring.

   

The Tennessee Valley Authority provided mapping data and information on watershed pollutant sources in its Integrated Pollution Source Identification report.

 

Local 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 perspective (a majority of LAC members live within the county),

  • Prioritize issues to be addressed during the watershed assessment and within the final planning document,

  • Recommend management strategies associated with plan implementation,

  • Help prioritize areas for implementation, and

  • Serve as a liaison between EEP and the larger local community.

LAC members and the agencies represented are as follows:

 

Representative

Agency/Organization

David Badger, County Manager

Cherokee County

Glenn Carson, District Conservationist

Natural Resources Conservation Service

Steve Fraley, Aquatic Non-game Coordinator

NC Wildlife Resources Commission

Scott Lea, Chickamauga-Hiwassee Team

Tennessee Valley Authority

Callie Moore, Executive Director

Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition

Michael Stiles, Ag Cost Share Technician

Cherokee Co. Soil & Water Conservation District

Keith Wood, Agricultural Extension Agent

NC 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 implementation.

 


HOW WAS THE PROJECT ACCOMPLISHED?

        

The project was divided into three phases:

 

Phase I.  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)

 

Phase II.  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 (May 2007)

 

Phase III.  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 (October 2007)

 


WHAT'S NEXT?

        

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 Peachtree community.

 

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