Watershed alliance moves forward with plans

By Megan R. Harrell

Star Staff

The Buffalo Creek Watershed Alliance is moving forward with plans to improve the water quality and ecology of Buffalo Creek. Local residents and concerned citizens met Tuesday night to discuss the progression of improvement efforts within the 38 square mile watershed.
   Members of the watershed have actively been seeking land owners' approval for improvements they would like to see take place on their properties. As of last night's meeting six landowners had given their full support of making improvements on their properties. The watershed has been looking at 17 different locations for improvements along Buffalo Creek and its tributaries.
   The organization is using funding it received as a result of the North American Corporation fire in 1998, along with state funds to finance stream bank stabilization, to reduce run off into the stream from animal fecal matter, and to add textile matting and gravel to heavyily used areas and access crossings.
   "It is pretty neat that out of the accident at North American Rayon we have this opportunity to do so much good work," Chairman Garry Barringer said. "It certainly was not good that it had to happen, but we have a lot of good projects going on as a result."
   Several projects in the Stoney Creek, Gap Creek, and Blue Springs communities have been chosen by the watershed alliance to receive improvements.
   Two areas at Sycamore Shoals State Park will receive some upgrades as well. Ken Chase, chairman of the Boon Watershed Partnership stated that efforts to stabilize the stream bank along the Watauga River within the park will take place. He added that storm water drains will be added as well.
   If the watershed alliance receives approval from all landowners where they would like to make improvements, members believe the measures will result in long-term water quality for Buffalo Creek. "This is a major effort and a great opportunity to improve our community," Chase said.
   In other business, the alliance discussed plans to organize a community wide clean-up day along Buffalo Creek. It plans to set aside one Saturday in April to mobilize a litter clean up along the waterway. The Tennessee Valley Authority will be providing bags and gloves for the effort, and lunch will be provided for those who volunteer. The exact time and date of the clean-up are still being verified, but will be announced at the next meeting.
   The Buffalo Creek Watershed Alliance was formed a little over a year ago in order to provide Buffalo Creek and its tributaries with necessary water testing, oversee stream bank stabilization projects where needed, report violators, organize litter cleanups, and educate residents within the watershed.