HUNTINGTON, W.VA. - The Town of Boone, the National Committee for the New River, Appalachian State University, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the North Carolina Division of Water Quality and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are working together to get a $2.5 million project underway to improve the aquatic ecosystem in the South Fork New River, a National Heritage River.
The project area is along a reach of the river extending approximately 3,730 feet and is adjacent to the intramural fields owned by Appalachian State University.
This stream restoration project is proposed because continuing development within the watershed and large storm events have caused river instability, including unprecedented streambank erosion. As a result, the upper New River is experiencing severe sediment loading causing a degradation of the stream and components of the aquatic habitat.
The overall goal of the project is to restore ecosystem functions that are currently lost or degraded along this reach of the South Fork. The restoration would produce wetland and riparian habitat of significantly higher quality than is currently found along this reach.
The project focuses on the development and expansion of a riparian corridor, improvements to eroding streambanks including overbank plantings, bank protection using woody material, and the construction of bend way weirs. In addition, new wetland areas will be created, an established wetland will be rehabilitated and areas adjacent to the river that are currently overgrown with invasive plants will be replanted with native species.
Boone Mayor Loretta Clawson said, "I am delighted that the Town of Boone is partnering again in a project which will improve water quality and recreational facilities along the south fork of the New River."
David McHenry of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission added, "We support the project because the planting of riparian vegetation and use of natural stream design techniques such as root wads would benefit fish and wildlife in and along the river reach and bank erosion will be reduced, thereby benefitting downstream resources and recreation."
The Corps is contributing $1.7 million toward the project, but a local sponsor must provide 35 percent of the cost. Jim Byrne, Assistant Manager for the Town of Boone, has been a strong proponent and has been working for many years to get the project to construction. The town received a $600,000 Community Block grant to pay for part of the local match in November 2012.
George Santucci, President, and Lynn Caldwell, Restoration Director, for the National Committee for the New River (NCNR), have also been working for several years to obtain funds for the project and last year NCNR received a $250,000 Cleanwater Management Trust Fund grant to add toward the project. Appalachian State University has also been instrumental in providing $60,000 in funding, utility relocation services and the land needed for the project.
"NCNR is proud to partner with Boone, Appalachian State University and the Army Corps of Engineers to restore the health of this part of our beautiful river. It will be great to see the fish and wildlife come back as their habitat and water quality improve." said Santucci.
The project is authorized under Section 206 of the Water Resources Development Act 1996 (P.L. 104-303), as amended.
Corps Project Manager Mark Kessinger said, "This is a great example of federal, state and local agencies all working together for a common goal to improve the environment. Everyone is committed to make it happen."
For more information call Mark Kessinger at 304-399-5083.