Tryon applies for Pacolet stream restoration grant

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Failing stream banks are potentially hazardous for visitors and are a source of unnatural sediment volume in the river.

Failing stream banks are potentially hazardous for visitors and are a source of unnatural
sediment volume in the river. (Photo by Leah Justice)

by Leah Justice

The Town of Tryon is applying for a grant to restore the stream banks of the Pacolet River at Harmon Field.

Council approved applying for a grant from the N.C. Department of Natural Resources (DENR) and the division of water resources during its December meeting.

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Water resources geologist Joel Link met with council to discuss the grant that he is applying for on behalf of the town. Link said he has stream bank restoration background in Polk County as he helped Polk Soil and Water apply for a grant that restored the stream bank in the Hunting Country/Morgan Chapel area through N.C. Clean Water.

If approved, benefits of the restoration will include improved water quality by reducing sediment input and shading of the stream channel, improvement of aquatic and tenestrial habitat, educational opportunities for the community and improved safety and aesthetics for the public, according to the grant application.

Link said the budget includes asking the division of water resources for almost $200,000. The grant requires a 50 percent match, but the town’s portion can come from materials supplied by the town, according to Link. Link said the majority of the town’s match will be providing workers and machinery to install the stream bank restoration.

There’s also an estimated $4,500 to administer the grant, with Link saying it will likely take more than a year from the time the grant is received to finish the restoration because the town will need permits, comments from organizations such as the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, as well as regulations from FEMA. The area is in a FEMA flood zone.

Link said he is asking the state for the permit costs and assumes the town will be contributing $5,000 in cash for design costs. There will also be some signage requirements explaining the stream restoration with monitoring of the project required for a five-year period.

The other part of the town’s match will come from placing 50-foot restrictions from the stream bank, and it is common for this type of grant to give a fair market value for that land, Link said.

The town’s cash requirements for the match will come out of Harmon Field’s budget.

Link reviewed photographs included in the grant application, which were taken last fall. Link showed bank heights ranging from 2-3 ft. to 12-13 ft., which he said is impacting water quality. More importantly, bank heights are a liability to the town and a safety issue.

Commissioner George Baker said he thinks it’s a great project and can’t think of any reason why the town wouldn’t try to do it. Link said the cost benefit to the town would be tremendous.

“I think the town and Harmon Field has an excellent opportunity to receive a grant,” Link told Tryon commissioners.

Link volunteered to put the grant application together for the town. The Harmon Field Board of Supervisors also approved applying for the grant.