Local government officials and state enhancement program representatives have teamed up in an effort to find ways to improve water quality in the Great Coharie Creek watershed in Sampson County and Newton Grove. They will be visiting properties in northern Sampson County this week and next to get a handle on that overall health and have urged the cooperation of residents.
Sarah Bruce, with Triangle J Council of Governments, a non-regulatory coalition of local governments that works on regional issues, said the council has teamed with the North Carolina Ecosystem Enhancement Program (EEP) and community representatives to find ways to improve water quality in the Great Coharie Creek watershed.
She wrote to inform numerous community leaders in Sampson that the team would be visiting sites in the county from June 13-15 and June 20-22 to assess waterways.
“Four of us from Triangle J Council of Governments will be walking the streams, wetlands and possibly ditches in the planning area to look at things like beaver alterations, vegetation, debris, wildlife and other factors that affect or indicate the health of waterways,” Bruce said. Sampson County is part of the Mid-Carolina Council of Governments (Region M), however Triangle (Region) J includes Johnston County, which is also affected.
Watershed planning is used by the EEP to identify the best locations to implement stream, wetland and riparian buffer (vegetated areas) restoration. The multidimensional planning process considers where mitigation is needed and how EEP’s mitigation efforts might contribute to the improvement of water and habitat quality in the state.
Local watershed planning is conducted in specific priority areas, typically one or more Targeted Local Watersheds where EEP officials and the local community have identified a need to address crucial watershed issues. Through this planning process, EEP collaborates with local stakeholders and resource professionals to identify projects and management strategies to restore, enhance and protect local watershed resources — that is what is being undertaken in northern Sampson.
Bruce said letters have been sent to property owners whose land the EEP and Council of Governments team will be on or near to notify them. That way they can not only be alerted to the possibility of the group walking on their property, Bruce noted, but also so property owners can ask questions if they wish.
“We let folks know that they are more than welcome to come out and chat with us in person if they have questions,” Bruce stated. “All field staff will be wearing orange vests and will gladly provide identification upon request.”
While letters were sent out, Bruce said she wanted to ensure those who may not have received or read the letter that the group is there for a legitimate non-regulatory purpose and will only be at sites for a couple of hours.
Those landowners who object to their property being walked, can contact Bruce at 919-558-9343 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If they give name and address, we will avoid their property,” said Bruce, who hoped property owners would be receptive to the effort. “We hope that folks will allow us to pass through and learn more about the waterbodies of the Great Coharie though.”
Those with questions can reach Sarah Bruce, at 704-301-5992. Triangle J Council of Governments Water Resources Program Manager Mike Schlegel, can be reached at 919-295-0017. To find out more about the EEP or the overall effort, contact Kristin Miguez with the N.C. Ecosystem Enhancement Program, at 910-796-7475 or email@example.com.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.