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NWQI Public Release

East and Middle Prong of Roaring River NWQI Assessment
Stakeholder Mtg # 1 at Stone Mountain State Park
June 7, 2017 at 1:30 at the Hemlock Picnic Shelter

Stakeholder Selection Process
The District staff created a map of the two watersheds with the parcel data overlay. The District staff reviewed each parcel's information from the Wilkes County Tax office to determine which parcels met present use valuation program standard,  a deferred tax program for properties in agriculture or forestry. Agriculture properties are required to be 10 acres or greater in size and generates at least $ 1000 in annual income for agriculture. Forestry properties are required to be 20 acres or greater in size and the owner manages the property according to a Forestry Management Plan.

District staff determined there were 182 landowners in the two watersheds that met this criteria.

District staff obtained their addresses from the Wilkes County Tax office.

District staff developed a flyer to notify each landowner of the stakeholder meeting and distributed it 15 days before the meeting.

Stakeholder Meeting Process
The meeting was held at Stone Mountain State Park June 7, 2017
at 1:30 at the Hemlock Picnic Shelter.

District staff worked with the Wilkes County Tax office to obtain larger maps of the two watersheds, cutting the project area in half, north and south. Each landowner placed a pin
where their property was located to give the staff a better indication of the acres represented
at the meeting.

13 people participated in the stakeholder meeting.

BJ Cook, Watershed Coordinator, welcomed everyone for coming and provided the following instruction.

Over 1 million people in North Carolina use this water as a drinking water source.

The Wilkes District is participating in the National Water Quality Initiative to develop a watershed assessment in cooperation with the NC Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation and the US Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The purpose is to use a targeting approach to identify critical source areas which need treatment and to determine which conservation systems are both effective and agreeable with landusers.

The study will focus upon hydrologic processes and factors affecting the water quality and provide viable solutions. Every landowner and farmer in this watershed needs to provide input to identify those critical resource areas that need treatment.

The final plan will be used to leverage additional cost share dollars to improve water quality.

The questions that were posed were:

Question 1 - What do you value most about your watershed today and how do you envision your community in 30 years?

Question 2 - What are your current natural resource concerns in the watershed? This can be a specific area like my stream is eroding or a conservation practice like nutrient management, or others.

Question 3 - What are the barriers to addressing these concerns and what suggestions do you have to overcome these barriers?

Question 4 - What are we missing from the process?

The major themes of comments were as follows:

Need to help the dairies that are built near the branch in the floodplain.

Need more stream crossings for livestock

Need more waste storage facilities

Need more alternative water systems for beef producers to fence all the cows out of the streams

Need confinement feeding areas ( sacrifice areas ) far away from the streams so the farmer can feed their cows in the bad weather and in the winter

Buffers take away acreage from cropland use and reduce what a farmer can grow in a field

Need to increase residue in the current conservation plans
from 30% to 80%.

Increase the amount of forestry practices installed, such as clear up after a burn, forest stand improvement and stormwater runoff from the access roads.

Focus on timber harvesting and runoff that occurs.

Advise on the management of timber harvest

Hemlock disease - find another tree to plant as a streamside shade tree, need more research

What are other things to do on logging roads? Loggers are to sow down logging roads. Loggers cannot get within 250 feet of a trout stream, but they are allowed to cable out the trees they have harvested. Some of the logging roads have been there for years and give the North Carolina Forest Service good access to deal with wild fire.

Use road mats on streams when crossing them.

Need more opportunities for continuing education credits for loggers.

The next conservation practice we need to push ( after stream buffers) is access roads on forestry activities and with all development activities.

The jurisdiction of who to call needs to be clarified when it comes to forestry and development. The North Carolina Forest Service does not have jurisdiction if it wasn't being currently logged, and so who to call?

The North Carolina Forest Service should have a mechanism in place of who to call about offsite sedimentation.

Poultry Mortality and Waste Management
The concern noted is that chicken litter being spread along streams and the high concentration of heavy metals such as copper in the chicken litter accumulating in the soils.

Need buffer zones for litter application spreaders.

Need waste storage facilities for non-poultry producers who haul and store the animal waste for later land application.

Have trouble with dead carcasses, it costs too much to bury a dead animal, or incinerate them, or take them to the landfill, and the smell of some operations is difficult.

Natural Resources Conservation Service requires a 750 feet setback on all drystacks, is that enough? - No.

The air quality is terrible, the particulates in the air is bad, we need more efforts from the integrators.

Recommend paving gravel roads to reduce sediment from reaching the streams.

Tourism is big, need to maintain the trout habitat by maintaining cool water temperatures.

The stream buffer length and width needs to be increased.

The streams near Fordtown have erosion problems

The streams are so crooked they are hard to stabilize
At one time, there was a stream restoration requirement for one mile of stream for every mile
of road built when 421 was being constructed, is that still in effect?

The number one practice we need to push are stream buffers, plants with vegetation that only grows 3-4 feet tall so it will not shade out the farmers crop, but will provide a good buffer.

We need the water tested in each stream.

Stream bank erosion is bad and something needs to be done about that.

When using plant materials to control erosion, reduce use of fescue for wildlife considerations. There are several other plant materials which can provide the wildlife better habitat opportunities than fescue can and still provide erosion control.

Build ponds on small branches for water supply.

Use Korean Lespedeza for wildlife.

Increase the amount of wildlife habitat plantings

Blue Tongue disease killed several deer last year and they went straight to the stream to die.

Conservation Easements And Landuse Management
We need more protection and no development

We need a streamlined process for donating easements.

The cost of donating an easement for the landowner was greater than
$ 8000, counting legal fees and everything. The person is not against easements, just the upfront cost was prohibitive.

We need more parks to protect streams and more easements along the stream corridor to protect the water quality.

We need more education - with school age children

Emerging Crops
The question was asked about reducing sedimentation in the river, could vineyards replace tobacco fields? Vineyards have more grass in the field but they use chemicals as well, the struggle is to find the balance.

Cost Share Resources
Cost Share rate needs to be 80%, especially for forestry

Could we replace water tanks and fences that have already been put up by the farmer?

Could we reimburse farmers for work already completed?

Soil Loss
The question asked was how do we reduce erosion in crop fields which are plowed. The Food Security Act was explained, how farmers have went from an average of 62 tons of soil loss per acre, now down to 8 tons. Grass based rotations are the best, but how to make this cost effective so that the land is never plowed will take some compromise
on all sides.

Do we need mandatory soil tests?

Illegal Dumping
Landowners have trouble with trespassers which tear up their land and leave trash behind.
Surry County has a collection site each year to get unwanted trash and debris, does Wilkes County have that?

What % of the population is not covered by the water associations which provide public water?

What about the $ 25 million project up at W Kerr Scott Dam? That project is outside this particular focus.

Our focus is stream buffers and we must follow through with operations and maintenance reviews to make sure the landowner is doing what they are being paid to do.

Next Meeting
When the District sends out the next mailer, to catch their attention, put a picture on it
and not so much data.

Workshops need to be in the fall, November to January and have a meal.

Some people are scared to come because of a potential violation
Need to underscore this is not enforcement, this is a voluntary program

Needs to be voluntary to sign in at the meeting for those that want to maintain anonymity
so no one will know who you are

How long is too long to hold the meeting?  About an hour to an hour and a half

The next meeting will be in late September, early October.
What time do you recommend? - 9 am

To increase attendance, have food, feed everyone and have a door prize.

To have the next mtg in the middle of the watershed, consider Traphill Fire Department,
or Hays Fire Department.

Top 3 ideas to Focus on
1) Money, provide higher cost share rates to all land uses and more of it for the two watersheds.

2) Education, we need to educate the public about what is going on and why we need to do more than we have done.

3) More Involvement, we need to get more people involved and take this seriously.