Haywood Waterways recognizes water champions

Five “Water Champions” were recognized for their work to protect water quality in Haywood County during Haywood Waterways Association’s annual awards ceremony in December. 

Pigeon River Award. This award is usually given to a person or organization that’s made a significant contribution to protecting Haywood’s land and water resources, but this year Haywood Waterways broke tradition and gave the award to a project — the Dotson Branch Stream Corridor Restoration and Water Quality Improvement Project, a multi-partner, large-scale effort that is having tremendous impact on the county’s waterways. 

Locally managed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Haywood County Soil & Water Conservation District, the project is working to improve water quality in Dotson Branch. The stream was extremely degraded by sediment and nutrient loading from livestock, and there was very little streamside vegetation to help filter pollutants. The project included restoring 10,000 linear feet of stream channel, stabilizing 18,600 feet of eroding stream bank, planting 10.7 acres of streamside trees and shrubs, and fencing 3.5 miles of streambank to keep livestock out. 

Big Creek Award for Partner of the Year. Lynn Sprague of the Southwestern N.C. Resource Conservation and Development Council received this award in recognition of the many projects he has developed and grants he has managed toward water quality. Recent projects include working to remove a dam and creating a watershed action plan for Beaverdam Creek; starting the Fines Creek Watershed Restoration Project to remove it from the state list of impaired waterways; implementing stormwater collection and treatment in Maggie Valley to protect Jonathan Creek; and starting stream restoration projects at East Street Park and Chestnut Park in Waynesville. Sprague is involved with a variety of other water quality projects as well, including erosion control, greenway development and stormwater control. 

Richard T. Alexander Volunteer of the Year Award. Bob Kimzey and husband-and-wife team Les and Julie Taylor earned this award. Kimzey’s award recognized his service collecting water samples as part of the Volunteer Water Information Network, in which capacity he sampled Plott Creek and Allens Creek sites monthly from 2008 to 2017, when he retired. The Taylors were recognized for their work collecting water samples, participating in multiple stream cleanups and recruiting new members to Haywood Waterways. 

Board member recognition. Andrew Bowen,former planning director for Maggie Valley, was recognized for his service on the Haywood Waterways Board of Directors from 2016 to 2017. A $50 donation in his honor was given to the Pink Francis Scholarship Fund at Haywood Community College. 

The Naturalist's Corner

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