Envisioning a volunteer approach to natural resources management, Mountain Valleys RC&D has facilitated the formation of the Ivy River Partners (IRP). The Madison and Buncombe County Soil and Water Conservation Districts along with the Towns of Weaverville and Mars Hill have entered into a cooperative agreement to support efforts for improving the Ivy River Watershed. Continued partnership expansion along with outreach and education efforts have expanded the scope of Ivy River Partners to include all Madison County waterways.
In 2013 Mountain Valleys completed a Source Water Protection Plan for the Ivy River Watershed (below), which describes an action plan for addressing water quality. Using this as a guiding document, the IRP plans to engage land owners, students, community members, and local governments on a voluntary basis to monitor water quality and to encourage the implementation of “best practices” to restore and maintain river health. The IRP can provide technical assistance and fundraising support for landowners interested in improvement projects.
Visit our website for water quality monitoring data, upcoming events, opportunities for educational programs, assistance with water quality improvement projects, and to learn more and become involved.
Ivy River Source Water Protection Plan
Willis Miller of Mountain Valleys RC&D and Sara Nichols of the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District have completed a Source Water Protection Plan (SWPP) for the Ivy River Watershed. This document, along with the Ivy River Watershed 9 Element Plan, will provide a framework for managing water quality in the watershed.
The Ivy River Watershed serves as a municipal water source for the Town of Weaverville and as a backup water source for the Town of Mars Hill. The watershed drainage is divided into the Big Ivy watershed in Buncombe County and the Little Ivy watershed in Madison County. Historic land uses in these two watersheds are significantly different. Water quality sampling results reflect these land use differences, with those sampling results historically showing the Little Ivy as a watershed in need of extra attention for water pollution control efforts. That need remains today.
The SWPP identifies programs that have historically been used to make stream water quality improvements in the watershed. The use and findings of a potential contaminant sources inventory are displayed and explained. The document contains materials and references to several assessments and data sources that can be helpful in managing water quality issues in the watershed.
The plan is completed with a listing of 30 strategies that can be helpful for protecting and/or improving stream water quality conditions in the Ivy River watershed. Hopefully, these strategies can serve as a guide and provide an impetus for local leaders to use now and as an impetus to develop future actions for watershed improvement. Key among all of these may be completing the “cooperative agreement” between the local Towns and Soil and Water Conservation Districts, further developing the “watershed stakeholder group”, and holding regular “state-of-the-watershed” meetings.
Ivy River Stream Restoration
After a major storm event in 1998 a section of the Ivy River moved and began to rapidly erode land on both sides of the stream. A walking trail that had recently been constructed on the Beech Glen Community Center Property was completely washed out. Mountain Valleys RC&D worked with the Department of Agriculture, the Pigeon River Fund and adjacent landowners to restore this stream and stop the active erosion.
The Ivy River Stream Restoration project’s objective was to create a stable stream system that decreases property loss from erosion and increases the beneficial uses of our waterways.
The stream restoration project redirected the channel to stabilize the streambank slopes, installed rock weirs to capture sediment and redirect flows, and re-vegetated the area with native plants.
NC Ecosystem Enhancement Program - Best Management Practices Project
Through work with EEP Mountain Valleys RC&D was able to implementa significant number of stream and wetland restoration projects on privately owned land in Cleveland and McDowell Counties, North Carolina. These projects required conservation practices such as livestock exclusion, heavy use protection areas, and watering systems to ensure the long term success of adjacent stream restorations. Mountain Valleys RC&D has considerable expertise and experience working with private landowners to implement these conservation practices. The purpose of these conservation practices will be to improve water quality on EEP stream restoration projects through cattle exclusion to these streams and wetlands.
Stormwater Management - Rain Gardens
Madison County, with grant writing and technical assistance from Mountain Valleys RC&D, constructed rain gardens at the Town of Mars Hill Government Center and at the Madison County Extension Office. Rain gardens are gardens containing flowering plants and grasses (preferably native species of both) that can survive in soil soaked with water from rain storms. However they are not gardens that have standing water. Rain Gardens collect and slow stormwater run off and increase its infiltration into the soil.
These attractive gardens help reduce the rapid flow of stormwater from homes and businesses to storm drains and thus protect streams and lakes from pollutants that are washed from house roofs and paved areas. These educational-demonstration projects increase public awareness of the importance of water quality.