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CUB CREEK RESTORATION & RAIN GARDENS
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The Town of Wilkesboro embarked on a project to rehabilitate and save Cub Creek which runs through Wilkesboro, mainly Cub Creek Park. It starts on the west side of Bridge Street along an unnamed tributary to College Street near the Wilkes County Department of Social Services (DSS) through Cub Creek Park on South Bridge Street to Oakwoods Road and finally empties out into the Yadkin River further downstream.
The restorations were performed in several phases and the work was done between 2007 through 2012. The town rehabilitated 8,300 feet of Cub Creek inside the park. The town received grants to cover about $750,000 of the one million project cost. The town paid its share through in-kind manpower and equipment and only $10,000 in cash was spent for supplies.
A statewide drinking water protection group recently announced eight inaugural winners of an awards program that recognizes individuals, organizations, and others that protect sources of public drinking water. N.C. Source Water Collaborative presented the awards on March 18, 2015, at Water Resources Research Institute’s annual conference. Any individual, group, organization, or agency that engages in activities to protect drinking water at its source may be eligible for an award. The awards program is intended to support local drinking water protection while identifying successful projects that can be duplicated statewide. Awards were presented to the Town and BREC for this restoration project. Additional information is available on the website at http://ncswc.org, or at 919-707-9096.
Phase One Location – South side of Bridge Street in the Cub Creek Park downstream to the eastern end of the old walking track, about halfway point to Oakwoods Road.
Tasks for Phase One
- Creek banks widened for flood plains
- Silt removed to create pools
- Planted the banks with vegetation and trees and to be left in the natural state to establish the banks and for natural surroundings
- Large rocks placed in the creek for slowing the running of water and created an old fashioned swimming hole and wading access for kids near the picnic shelter and playground
- Extended the ball fields with moving portions of the walking trails and installed new lighting
- Created our Kids Fishing days and increased number of visitors to the park
- Installed trout kiosks.
The Goal for Phase One
- Make creek habitable for trout while eliminating the erosion on creek banks so the NC Wildlife Resources Commission could begin stocking this part of the creek with trout.
PHASES TWO & THREE
Phase Two Location – West Side of Bridge Street from Wilkes County DSS to the bridge on S. Bridge Street, meeting up with phase one.
Phase Three Location – East End of Cub Creek Park, where phase one stopped, to Oakwoods Road.
Tasks for Phases Two & Three:
- Removing larger bends, which was the main cause of flooding, and straighten out the creek
- Add floodplains within the creek banks
- Silt removed to create pools
- Large rocks placed in the creek for slowing the running of water
- Create additional storage for floodwaters to minimize any future flooding in the park
- Make more habitable trout waters
- Remove damaged trees that were in bad shape or in an area that wouldn’t allow the trees to live much longer. The soil around many of the trees closest to the creek had been washed away in heavy rains that left much hanging precariously over the creek
- Plant new trees when digging was done to provide shade in a couple of years and creates a rippling effect to allow more oxygen to get into the water through the plants and trees
- Phase two - extended the walking trail from College Street (near Wilkes County DSS) for walkers and residents of Rose Glen Retirement Village and Historic Wilkesboro School Apartment Complex to make ease of access for senior citizens in this area
- Replace Phase three creek channel to its original location from over 100 years ago and back to the old creek location
- Most of the cobble extracted during Phase three was used for the creek bed and walking trails, which reduced the cost as compared to phase one
- Phase three - extended the walking trail to Oakwoods Road
This project allowed the citizens of Wilkesboro to have a high-quality creek that can provide trout habitat while reducing the risk of flooding and erosion. The project was made possible by Engineer Derek Goddard and his firms, Blue Ridge Environmental Consultants (BREC) and Blue Ridge Geomatics. Goddard approached the project with several steps that can be found in the attached PowerPoint slide show and photos of before and after shots.
RAIN GARDENS PLANNED AT CUB CREEK
In the Spring of 2014, two bio-retention projects or rain gardens were planned at Cub Creek and these are shallow, man-made depressions with plants and other vegetation. The purpose of these 1/3 acre gardens is to collect stormwater runoff from the asphalt parking lots and other impervious surfaces.
The benefits of the Rain Gardens:
- The plant roots need nitrogen and phosphorus, two major contaminants of the runoff water, in order to survive and these elements will be removed before the water gets into the creek
- Collecting of the water in the gardens allows the water to cool as well as treat and clear some of the sediment before flowing into the creek, which makes for cleaner water and improves chances for year-round trout habitats
There have been several concerns that the gardens will be breeding grounds for mosquitos and Derek Goddard, BREC assured the town this would not be the case. The plantings are what dictate the presence of mosquitos and plantings will not include mosquitos attracting plantings such as cattails.
In awarding the grant for the new Rain Gardens, former Governor Bev Perdue recognized the town for its effort to rehabilitate Cub Creek. She said, “Your efforts to improve water management infrastructure in the community are to be commended.”
FUTURE RESTORATIONS PLANNED
The town is planning yet another phase to restore Cub Creek downstream in the future. The town council voted to apply for grants to restore 1,800 linear feet of Cub Creek adjacent to the town’s wastewater treatment plant between Old 421 and the Yadkin River.