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Video: Double dip throw down on Jones Street

Lawmakers might dun DENR for wetlands mistake

State lawmakers said Thursday that they might have to pull $700,000 from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources budget to make up for a costly error in a wetlands clean-up in Johnston County.

When the state pays to preserve environmentally sensitive wetlands, it gets a credit to offset the destruction of another wetland for a highway project or other development. Each restored area can be used only once as a credit, but DENR hired a firm last year to restore the same 46 acres in the Neuse River Basin that the state Department of Transportation paid to restore in 2000.

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N&O: Residents argue that removing Milburnie Dam would ruin scenery

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Thu, Apr 22, 2010 05:36 AM
In Fight Over Dam Sides Ask: What’s Natural?

RALEIGH For more than a century, Milburnie Dam has stood 16 feet high in the middle of Raleigh, a stone wall that interrupts the Neuse River like an aquatic comma. Above it, motorboats troll through deep water; below, fishermen wade around a pounding waterfall.

Now a Raleigh firm that does environmental work wants to tear out the privately owned dam and let the Neuse flow freely, removing the only man-made obstacle between Falls Lake and Pamlico Sound. Doing so, they say, would bring shad and other fish further upriver and improve the water quality by speeding up a slowed-down Neuse.

In Fight Over Dam Sides Ask: What’s Natural?
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Four Year Checkup: Lowell Park looking good for the new decade

I dropped by RS’ Lowell Park today in Kenly, NC, Johnston County.  Lowell Park is the site of the former Lowell Dam that RS shot to dust in 2005 for the NCEEP.  We purchased an additional 17 acres at the site so that we would leave behind something for the community after the removing the dangerous and defunct structure.

The interpretive signs could use a little paint, but otherwise the site is in ship-shape.  We pay an elderly gentleman to maintain the site and he does an excellent job.  There was hardly a cigarette butt to be seen and the grass was mowed as neat as a pin.

Scroll over and click to see full screen:

SwampGate: Purchasing nutrients from a wetland bank prohibited by EEP's own rules

As an informational update on the brewing controversy concerning the state paying twice for work done once, “Stories from the Field” offers a snippet from the EEP‘s own rule book.  The rule specifically and unequivocally prohibits the dual use of a single mitigation site for wetland and nutrient mitigation, as was done at least once by a private contractor, and perhaps many times by the rule maker themselves:

Ecosystem Enhancement Program:
“Policies, Process, and Procedures Manual,” May 4, 2008

2.0 DEFINITIONS AND PROJECT REQUIREMENTS TO GENERATE RIPARIAN BUFFER MITIGATION CREDITS.

2.9 Wetland and Buffer Mitigation. Wetland mitigation may not overlap with riparian buffer mitigation. When wetland mitigation is implemented in a riparian zone using buffer restoration techniques that could also generate riparian buffer mitigation, a decision must be made as to which type of credit will be claimed from the project. A specific area on a project can generate either wetland mitigation credits or riparian buffer mitigation credits. Portions of a project can be designated as generating riparian buffer mitigation credits and portions generating wetland credit, but these areas cannot overlap.

2.10 Nutrient Offset and Buffer Mitigation. Nutrient offset mitigation is required to be stand alone mitigation in order to generate nutrient offset mitigation. Any area being used for nutrient offset mitigation cannot be used to generate stream, wetland, or buffer mitigation credits. Similarly any area being used to generate riparian buffer mitigation credits cannot be used to generate nutrient offset mitigation.

SwampGate: News and Observer busts EBX for hitting the punch bowl twice

Quite a find on my porch this morning. The state’s paper of record revealed a long-stewing controversy in the obscure but important world of compensatory environmental mitigation policy.  [EBX paid twice for wetlands work, December 8, 2009]  RS’ principal competitor, Environmental Bank and Exchange (EBX), sold nutrient mitigation credits to the North Carolina Ecosystem Enhancement Program subsequent to the site being banked, restored and previously paid for by the North Carolina Department of Transportation for wetland mitigation credit.  In industry parlance —  we call this a “double-dip.”

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The Flying Turkey takes more air photos

When Pam and the kids and I visit our family in Beaufort, North Carolina, I often take the opportunity to hire a small plane at the friendly Michael J. Smith Airport to take photos of nearby RS sites. I did so yesterday and enjoyed nearly perfect conditions.  Here are some pictures of the Bear Creek, Jarman’s Oak and Lloyd wetland and stream mitigation sites. (As regular readers will recall, I flew Bear Creek earlier this month. But I returned this time WITH my stabilized lens).

I also flew the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s North River Restoration Site, about which I have provided some background below.

Note: If you “click through” the photo box you can more easily read captions and navigate the photos.

Enjoy!

Below are some photos of North River Farms, which is being restored by the North Carolina Coastal Federation. This project is near and dear to RS’ heart. RS owned the option to purchase this 6000 acre farm in the 90’s. Determining that the farm had significantly more restoration potential than could be used as mitigation in the watershed (unless Cape Canaveral were relocated to the NC coast), we contacted the NCCF and suggested they take our option and make an application for its restoration to the then newly formed NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund.

The rest is history. The project is now one of the largest coastal restoration projects in the nation. We retained 390 acres within the farm, for which RS was recently awarded a grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to restore and protect. Brassgrill and I will blog in the future and tell you more about this project.

Dam Removals Benefit Migratory Fishes in Little River, NC

 

In the spring of 2007, North Carolina State University researchers set up a resistance board weir at the former Lowell Mill Dam site to monitor upstream and downstream migrations. 

Continue reading for the study-

Little River 

The Little River originates in Franklin County, North Carolina, and flows into the Neuse River near Goldsboro 

Three dams have been removed since 1998, while a notched and impassable dam still remain  

Both anadromous species, such as American shad, and year-round resident species, including suckers and gizzard shad, have annual spawning migrations in the river 

The Study

 In the spring of 2007, North Carolina State University researchers set up a resistance board weir at the former Lowell Mill Dam site to monitor upstream and downstream migrations

 

Upstream electrofishing provided additional information on fish locations

 

American shad abundance was compared to two “rule-of-thumb” estimates of run size for a restored population (conservative: 7 adults/ha; optimistic: 124 adults/ha)

 

Eggs and larvae were collected with plankton nets on the Little River and one Buffalo Creek site. 

Results

Migratory American Shad (502), gizzard shad (302), notchlip redhorse (58) were the most abundant fish collected in the weir

Largemouth bass, sunfishes, channel catfish, and additional species were also sampled

 

American & gizzard shad migrated to Atkinson Mill Dam, the maximum extent of restored habitat

 

Flow was important for migrations, as species migrated in highest numbers during increased flow periods

 

Total American shad abundance (508) was higher than the conservative estimate but drastically lower than the optimistic estimate for the reach below of Atkinson Mill Dam

 

American shad spawning was confirmed by eggs and larvae collected both downstream and upstream of the weir site 

 

Conclusions 

Fish, especially migratory species, are utilizing restored habitat following dam removals on the Little River

 

Since dam removals began in 1998, it may be too early to see overall population responses

 

River flow may annually influence the extent that fish migrate upstream and use restored habitat

 

For 2008, the weir will be moved downstream in order to sample the entire river

 

In addition, fish will receive permanent PIT identification tags.  Passive and active tracking of these fish will provide detailed information about migration and spawning habitat

 

Finally, fish passage or hindrance at the notched dam will also be evaluated  

Produced By: 

Joshua K. Raabe, Graduate Research Assistant., PhD candidate

Joseph E. Hightower, Professor, Assistant Unit Leader 

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Now Showing at the Lowell Dam…

I drove down to the Lowell Dam, uh, former Lowell Dam, to see how the restoration of the river and dam site were progressing.

Here is a panorama photo of the dam in the summer of 2004:

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And here is site of the former dam today from left to right…

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I apoligize for the changes in perspective (and we are working on the ability to enlarge photos) but I think you can get the picture. It looks pretty good. The river is restoring.

Here are some more photos. Remember, the dam was 11 feet high and upstream was an 11 foot deep lake — for two centuries.

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