Eight local watershed plans are located within the Cape Fear River Basin.
Nancy Daly, watershed planning supervisor with the North Carolina Ecosystem Enhancement Program, explained the importance of the plans and their funding during the 40th Cape Fear River Assembly annual meeting at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort on May 8 and 9.
“We have 124 projects throughout the basin,” Daly said. “This includes projects initiated by [North Carolina Department of Transportation, DOT] as well as projects initiated by EEP.”
Of the 124 restoration enhancement projects, 84 are located in targeted watersheds and 24 are located in local watershed planning areas.
“This equates to 106 miles of stream, 144 acres of buffer, over 2,000 acres of wetland and 94 acres of coastal marsh,” Daly said. “So a lot of good work has been done.”
In September 2000, the EEP initiated the New Hanover County Local Watershed Plan. Local stakeholders, including government, forestry, environmental, utility, development and academic officials, teamed up for the process, completed in December 2002.
“I think a lot of issues in Wilmington central tend to be stormwater, and right now we are not able to do stormwater EEPs for mitigation credit,” Daly said. “But we’re continuing to try and work projects in the planning area as we can.”
If EEP received proposals, she said they would try to focus in the local watershed planning area. The same goes for New Hanover County.
“A lot of the projects that we have in the New Hanover County area, a couple are initiated by DOT, but a lot of them are now monitored,” Daly said. “So we’re still monitoring some of those projects. I don’t know that we currently have any in design or construction.”
Mitigation projects are monitored for at least seven years after completion and before the data is sent to the Division of Natural Resource Planning and Conservation’s Stewardship Program.
When asked about the impact of climate change on mitigation sites, Daly said the issue continues to be on the EEP’s radar.
“We need to make that a core part of the watershed plan,” she said. “To this point, it hasn’t been a key piece that we’ve included in the analysis, but it is certainly on the radar as something that we need to make sure we’re addressing. … If we plant a hard wood forest today and it’s going to be a slump, we need to again think about the species we’re planting and how they’re going to adapt and think of the investment that we’re making with taxpayer money but also with the natural resources and make sure that we’re doing the right things the best we can.”
Specific project data can be found at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/eep/