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Abstract: Session D  4:20 pm (Back to Session D)
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Successful Partnerships – Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)
Dotson Branch, Haywood County, North Carolina

M. Alan Walker
Resource Institute, Inc.
Waynesville, NC

The Resource Institute Inc. (RI) has a history and reputation as a premier organization in the stream restoration and stabilization arena.  This history includes hosting courses related to stream geomorphology, stream assessment, natural channel and numerous conferences to facilitate education, cooperation and expansion of the natural channel processes to be used in assessment, stabilization and restoration.  RI has worked with the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) to assist eligible participants address resource concerns on their land through the Western NC Stream Initiative.  RI applied for additional funding through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) to encourage an expanded approach to improving water quality by reducing streambank erosion.  RI was awarded 1.2 million in 2016 to assist applicants for these additional EQIP funds.  Participants along Dotson Branch in Haywood County, NC were the highest-ranking applicants through the USDA-NRCS process.  Dotson Branch has a 1.43 square mile drainage area.  The watershed is home to one 150 cow dairy operation, pastureland for beef cattle/dairy cattle, and cropland for silage corn.  Water quality sampling by NC Department of Environmental Quality at nine (9) locations in 2017 prior to project implementation indicated a total count of 16,949 cfu/100ml ( an average of over 1,850/site; well above the 200 cfu/100 ml for freshwater streams.  Streambank erosion, sediment transportation, livestock access to the stream corridor and lack of riparian area were all issues in the watershed.  Resource Institute and its partners, (NC-NRCS, Haywood SWCD, NCDWR, & CWMTF) along with the engineering team from Stantec and construction team from North State Environmental implemented a watershed scale project to improve water quality, reduce excess sediment, increase riparian buffers and improve aquatic habitat.   

These improvements included over 10,000 feet of stream channel stabilization and stream habitat improvement, over 19,400 feet of streambank stabilization, and over 9.5 acres of Tree/Shrub Establishment for riparian areas. In addition to the conservation practices along the stream corridor, the landowners installed over 13,500 feet (2.5 miles) of fencing to exclude livestock from these streams, 8 stream crossings, 3 water wells and pumps using over 7,500 feet (1.5 miles) of pipeline to connect 12 watering facilities for alternate water sources for livestock.  These collective practices saw a decrease to a total of 1,238 cfu/100ml cfu/100ml for water quality samples collected by the NC Department of Environmental Quality at same nine (9) locations in 2018.  This reduced the average to less than 140 cfu/100ml.