Image: Students at work on Cullowhee Creek
During the spring semester, about 400 of the university's introductory geology students were involved in the Cullowhee Creek restoration project.

CULLOWHEE Work is beginning on a project to restore a 1-mile portion of Cullowhee Creek that runs through the Western Carolina University campus to its natural condition.

The project is designed to enhance the stream flow and re-establish the trees, shrubs and plants that grow naturally along stream banks in the Southern Appalachians, said Alan Sellars, project manager in Western's Office of Facilities Management. When complete, the project is expected to result in improvements in water quality and aquatic life habitat, including trout habitat.

The project is made possible by a $500,000 contribution to Western from the Mountaintop Golf and Lake Club, a 731-acre golf course and residential development under construction south of Cullowhee. The developers also contributed another $500,000 that will be used to fund an endowed professorship.

The contributions to Western were part of an agreement between the club and North Carolina environmental officials allowing the company to disturb a stream bank within its development in exchange for restoration of the stream in Cullowhee.

The agreement also includes mitigation of a portion of wetlands on the campus and storm-water protection for 13.5 acres of parking areas.

Work on the creek bank will begin at The Village and proceed upstream in five stages to Forest Hills Drive, Sellars said. The creek restoration work is scheduled to be complete by mid-August. The project was designed by Buck Engineering and is being carried out by River Works. Both firms are located in Raleigh, Sellars said.

The contractor will install an orange safety fence to block off the construction area, and sections of Western's walking/jogging trail will have to be relocated as work progresses, Sellars said.

During the past spring semester, about 400 of the university's introductory geology students were involved in the stream restoration project as they collected preliminary data that will serve as the baseline for comparing stream conditions after the work is complete. Over the next several years, thousands of students will be involved in the study.

For more information about the Cullowhee Creek restoration project, contact Sellars at (828) 227-3020.

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Last modified: Thursday, June 16, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Western Carolina University