In 2015, the Watauga River Partners became a chapter under Blue Ridge Conservancy to align with the mission of protecting land and water in the Watauga River Basin. The purpose of the organization is to provide educational opportunities for the community to protect and rehabilitate the river.
Beaverdam Creek Watershed Rehabilitation Project
In 2010, the Watauga River Partners received a $247,500 grant from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources to develop a watershed rehabilitation plan for Beaverdam Creek, and work with landowners located in the western Watauga County community of Bethel to enhance and protect their streams.
Although Beaverdam Creek flows through a picturesque landscape, the stream itself has been listed as “impaired” by the North Carolina Division of Water Quality. The presence of several pollutants, sediment and high water temperatures have reduced fish diversity and biological communities. Impaired water quality from sediment, runoff and thermal pollution not only affects Beaverdam Creek, but also the overall water quality of the Watauga River because Beaverdam Creek is a headwater stream.
Watauga River Partners received another grant for 2016-17 and is providing financial assistance to residents who own land along Beaverdam Creek or its tributaries and are willing to share costs, labor and equipment. The funding may be used for plants along creek banks, rain gardens, alternate watering and feeding approaches, manure storage facilities, cisterns, cattle crossings and fencing, and other approved alternatives.
This is a great opportunity for landowners to not only improve their property, but to insure the Watauga River remains a vital, healthy waterway for fishing, habitat and drinking water.
Watauga River Partners is working with Watauga County Cooperative Extension and North Carolina Division of Soil and Water Conservation to install projects in the Beaverdam community, Brushy Fork Environmental Consulting, Inc., Appalachian State University Department of Chemistry, and the N.C. Wildlife Commission are also assisting.
Valle Crucis Park Projects
Dutch Creek Restoration Project – Dutch Creek is a tributary of the Watauga River that had degrading streambanks, causing channel widening, and sediment transport. Visitors to the park will now see Dutch Creek with it’s newly sloped and planted banks that will protect habitat and water quality.
Pond to Wetland Conversion Project – The human-made pond at Valle Crucis Park had filled with sediment and had become a stagnant monoculture of vegetation. In 2014 the Watauga River Partners received funding to work with the park to improve floodplain function and water quality, create and enhance wetland habitat for amphibians, birds, and other aquatic organisms, and to monitor populations as the pond transitions into wetland.
Kids in the Creek – In Partnership with the Watauga County Cooperative Extension and Watauga County Schools, the Watauga River Partners have been providing hands-on river educational programs to students in the high country since 2005. If you would like to schedule a “Kids in the Creek” program for any age group in Watauga County, please contact Wendy_Patoprsty@ncsu.edu or call (828)264-3061
Mandy the Mayfly
Mandy the Mayfly has been a frequent guest in Watauga Co. classrooms over the past several years, teaching children the importance of clean waterways. Mandy is now the subject of a 16-page booklet of activities which teaches kids about the biological basics of the High Country’s river systems. This original High Country based workbook targets students from 3rd through 6th grade. The children’s activity booklet was produced by the Watauga River Partners in collaboration with the Watauga County Cooperative Extension and funding from the High Country Water Media Society, Flanigan and Pipes Land and Commercial Properties, Mast General Store, Brushy Fork Environmental Consulting, Footsloggers, Watauga Riverkeeper, Western NC Alliance, SOS Printing, and MountainKeepers.
In its 16th year, Riverfest is an exciting and fun-filled day, with educational activities and demonstrations. There are hands-on activities and information for both youth and adults. Participants will go home with not only new appreciation for the rivers of the High Country, but also with skills and knowledge needed to reduce their environmental impact as well as to educate others. The first step to keeping our rivers clean and healthy starts with the community.
Events include old-fashioned hay rides in the fish mobile, a fingers in the creek activity where children can hunt for live creek critters and “Mandy the Mayfly”, a fantastic watermelon eating contest, tours of the newly planted wetland, a bird walk, and a tree ID walk. Kids can join in the Krazy Kazoo band concert, get their face painted, have their pictures taken as fish, and visit with goats and alpacas.
Exhibitors include Watauga River Partners, Appalachian Voices, Apple Hill Farm, ASU Recycles, Blue Ridge Conservancy, Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, Children’s Playhouse, Elkland Art Center, Grandfather and Elk Knob State Parks, High Country Amphibians, Lettuce Learn Project, the Bluebird Project, Middle Fork Greenway, Mountain True, New River Conservancy, NC Fish and Wildlife, High Country Audubon, Watauga River Anglers, RiverGirl Fishing Company, Watauga County Christmas Tree Association, Watauga County Beekeepers, Watauga County Master Gardeners, Upper Watauga Riverkeeper, The Weldwood Society, Brushy Fork Environmental, and Blue Ridge Resource Conservation and Development and more.
Riverfest is presented by Watauga River Partners and Blue Ridge Conservancy.
Watauga River Partners Is In Partnership With:
- Town of Boone
- Watauga County Soil and Water
- Upper Watauga Riverkeeper
- New River Conservancy
- Watauga County Cooperative Extension
- Appalachian State University
- Valle Crucis Community Park
- EPA 319
- Appalachian Water Project