JEFFERSON-While inspecting a particularly denuded section of Naked Creek in Jefferson recently, the New River Conservancy noticed a disturbing trend developing within the stream’s aquatic life.
“The fish diversity is lacking in that there are only one or two species of fish in the creek,” said George Santucci, director of the New River Conservancy. “There should be a dozen of more. That raised a red flag with us.”
Poor farming practices with the presence of livestock in the vicinity of the creek’s bank has eroded the banks and increased the amount of dirt and mud in the waterway and increased storm water run-off from Jefferson has only exacerbated the problem, said Santucci.
This erosion has greatly diminished the food source of the native fish. To ease some of the issues, the conservancy is looking to strengthen the ground by planting trees and shrubbery, as well as re-sloping the banks to a more natural state.
Rocks will also be used to stabilize the most creek’s most unstable sections.
Any potential restoration of the creek will involve inspecting and addressing any problem area in every nook and cranny of the stream, Santucci said.
Development in the area has resulted in many of the creek’s adjoining streams being turned into culverts, so conservancy is hoping to “daylight” these streams, which involves exposing those streams that currently run underneath the pastureland.
This will also help restore the streams to their natural channels.
The total cost of the project is approximately $630,000 and the conservancy is relying on grants from the Clear Water Management Trust Fund to foot the bill for much of the restoration, according to Santucci.
Santucci anticipates to hear about the pending approval of the grants in October. If the funding comes to fruition, the restoration could begin as early as March 2017. Most of the conservancy’s restoration projects take place in the colder months when plant life is dormant, which is the more suitable time frame for placing new plant material in the soil, said Santucci.
Naked Creek is located near Jefferson Landing where it joins the New River.
The conservancy has a storied restoration history. Since 1998, the NRC has repaired 93 miles of rivers and streams in the North Carolina section of the New River alone. This includes planting more than 800,000 tress and shrubs.
Reach Jesse Campbell at 336-846-7164.