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NC Communities Benefit from Historic Conservation Legislation

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Monday, October 15, 2018   

LINVILLE FALLS, N.C. – Outdoor recreation generates $28 billion dollars annually in North Carolina, according to the Outdoor Recreation Association, and the state's thousands of miles of waterways are a large part of that.

One example is the Wilson Creek watershed in Caldwell and Avery counties, one of five areas in the state that was created as a result of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, celebrating its 50th anniversary this month.

Ron Beane, a former Caldwell County commissioner, was one of the community members that advocated for the funding in 1999 and says the project has had a huge impact.

"We did a good thing when we did that, and we got the people that live along that river, and also people who own land and property along that river to join in with us,” he recalls. “It improves their water quality and it also cleaned it up."

New River and Lumber River are among the other waterways in North Carolina that also received funding from the act.

On Saturday, Nov. 3, more than two dozen community partners, including Trout Unlimited, Resource Institute, the U.S. Forest Service and Foothills Conservancy, will host a public party to celebrate the anniversary of the legislation, and announce new community projects to further enhance Wilson Creek.

One of the new projects that will be launching at the event is a Citizen Scientists Initiative, where community members will be invited to monitor and maintain trails and roads around the Wilson Creek area.

"We're going to be utilizing citizen scientists to walk up trails and find significant sedimentation and erosion areas that the Forest Service and TU (Trout Unlimited) and other partners can then remediate," explains Andy Brown, Southern Appalachian cold water conservation manager with Trout Unlimited.

Brown adds that the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act anniversary is a good time to recognize how far efforts have gone over the years.

"Fifty years is a long time, and sometimes we all get busy on working on our conservation projects that we don't take time to just pause and just be, and remember why we're in this work in the first place, and why we even have a wild and scenic river," he states.

Other projects include new trails, roads and the replacement of stream crossings to better support aquatic life.

Brown says the projects being launched address the needs of the trout population and also maintain clean water for outdoor recreation like hiking, paddling, angling and others.


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