The Upper Cullasaja Watershed Association and the Cullasaja Club are pursuing state funding to restore the headwaters of the Cullasaja River. The partners have applied to the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund for money that would allow them to clean up 4,300 lineal feet of impaired stream located on the Cullasaja Club’s golf course in Highlands.
The project would restore native habitat and streambed structures as well as mitigate the impact on water temperature and runoff effluents caused by the golf course.
Highlands Mayor David Wilkes said the project could be the start of a broader movement aimed at restoring the Upper Cullasaja headwaters between Lake Ravenell and Lake Sequoia.
“One of the problems with the river that’s run through these communities that have golf courses is we’ve altered the stream habitats,” Wilkes said.
Wilkes said the project would work to re-route the stream in a way that would insulate it from the temperature fluctuations caused by water released directly from ponds on the golf course.
“Their intent is just to clean up that section of the river but you would hope that as the work is finished there that the next property owner down the line would recognize the value of the effort,” Wilkes said.
The entire project would cost an estimated $755,710 and would require the permission of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
On Monday night the Macon County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution in support of the effort and the Highlands town board is expected to adopt a similar resolution at its meeting later this month.