Brushy Fork recently finished a stream stabilization and wetland enhancement along Fork Branch, a tributary of Beaverdam Creek in Watauga County, NC. This was the final of 13 projects funded by two 319 grants from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to address nonpoint source water pollution on Beaverdam Creek, which is a designated impaired waterway. Since 2012, Brushy Fork has partnered with Watauga River Partners, a chapter of the Blue Ridge Conservancy, to design and install projects aimed at improving conditions within the watershed. Brushy Fork has worked with private landowners to stabilize and plant creek banks, install natural channel design structures within creeks, install agricultural best management practices (livestock exclusion fencing, stream crossings, watering facilities, etc), and enhance wetland habitats. In total, these projects have prevented 118 tons of sediment annually from entering the watershed.
Additional Grant Funded Projects
-Beaverdam 319 Watershed Grant-
-Roan Creek 319 Watershed Grant-
Roan Creek, located within Johnson County TN, is considered impaired (303(d) listed) along the majority of its length due to excessive nitrate concentrations, loss of biological integrity due to siltation, and presence of e-coli. Channelization, floodplain filling, grazing, and urbanization are contributing to its degradation. Roan Creek originates on the densely forested western slopes of Snake Mountain before quickly exiting the forest and passing through small farms and dispersed residential neighborhoods. It is crossed several times by Hwy 421 as it descends toward Mountain City, where it converges with Town Creek. Roan Creek then flows southwest largely through farmed and grazed areas before entering Watauga Lake. Since 2010 Brushy Fork has worked with the Appalachian RC&D council to implement a TN Department of Agriculture 319 grant to address nonpoint sources of pollution. Goals for the grant were to address sources of degradation throughout the watershed and ultimately remove Roan Creek form the 303(d) list. Brushy Fork completed stream stabilization projects at 18 sites in the watershed, and provided education and assistance to many additional landowners. Various stream restoration techniques, including construction of in stream natural channel design structures, bank sloping, riparian planting, and cattle exclusion, have been successfully implemented. Brushy Fork completed Phase II of the grant’s implementation in 2018.
-Clean Water management Trust Fund Restoration Grants-
Brushy Fork has completed several projects with the help of grant funding provided by North Carolina’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF), a non-regulatory organization which awards grants to projects which can play a role in protecting and conserving surface waters and surrounding lands in the state. Our most recently completed project funded by CWMTF stabilized over 4,200 linear feet of the South Fork New River just east of Boone, NC. Extensive development and impervious areas upstream of the project reach have contributed to increased flood flows and sediment loads in the watershed. Lack of a forested riparian buffer along the majority of the reach exacerbated bank erosion, leading to mass wasting and vertically erosive banks.
Stabilization methods Brushy Fork used in this project include installation of natural channel structures, bank sloping, matting with coir and excelsior, live staking, and planting a buffer of native riparian trees and shrubs. Brushy Fork worked with multiple landowners, including the Town of Boone, Watauga County, and a private landowner, to ensure that erosion and bank instability issues on both sides of the river were addressed, improving the chances for long term stability on the reach.
Another recent CWMTF project enhanced approximately 5,400 feet of the South Fork New River in eastern Ashe County in 2017. The New River Conservancy, a local non-profit, obtained the grant, while Brushy Fork provided planning, design, and construction services. Prior to restoration this section of stream was unstable, degrading, and highly erosive. The goal of the project was to improve aquatic and terrestrial habitat, enhance the biological health of the stream, reduce streambank erosion and sediment deposition, and to restore the floodplain connectivity and function. BFEC achieved this through the implementation of modern natural stream channel design methods including boulder and toe-wood structures for grade control and the establishment of a healthy riparian zone containing a diverse array of native woody vegetation.
Another CWMTF project which is currently in the planning stages is the removal of Payne Branch Dam on the Middle Fork New River. Geophysical surveys have indicated that this non-operational dam is structurally deteriorating and in danger of catastrophic failure. Brushy Fork has completed the design and permitting process for this project; construction will be contracted out and is planned for 2020.
-Duke Energy Grant-
The overarching goals of the Dutch Creek Stream Restoration and Education Initiative were to restore a degraded reach of Dutch Creek (800+ feet) via natural channel design methods and educate the local school system and community regarding stream ecology via educational signage, tours, and workshops. This project was partially funded by a Duke Energy Water Resource Fund grant awarded to Valle Crucis Community Park as well as time and material match by several donors and non-profits. In August 2015, stream restoration along Dutch Creek was completed to address areas of severe incisement and erosion/deposition. Streambanks were sloped and benched in order to reconnect high flow events with adjacent floodplains and prevent future scour. A variety of natural channel design structures were installed to re-establish riffle pool sequencing and enhance fish and Hellbender salamander (Cryptobrancus alleganiensis) habitat. During project construction, classroom groups from Valle Crucis Elementary, whose property borders Dutch Creek, came out for educational tours and participated in plantings.
This project serves as both a formal and informal environmental education resource for the community. Teachers from Valle Crucis Elementary and other Watauga County Schools use the project area for future teaching purposes. Since 2001, Valle Crucis Community Park has also partnered with the Watauga River Partners (WRP), a local non-profit group, to host a variety of educational programs, workshops, and field tours,
including Riverfest, Kids in the Creek, Wetland Field Days, Environmental Field Days, Native Plant Tours and Demonstrations, and Volunteer Water Monitoring Workshops. Every year over 800 youth and 250 adults are involved in environmental education and watershed protection training in the park.