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Lake Mattamuskeet watershed restoration plan approved

The locally developed watershed restoration plan designed to clean up Lake Mattamuskeet was approved by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality on Aug. 7. The Department’s Nonpoint Source Program staff says that the plan recommended projects to restore water quality are now eligible to apply for restoration implementation funds administered by the State.

“This approval helps to propel efforts forward to address the water quality and flooding problems that plague Lake Mattamuskeet,” said Todd Miller, executive director for the North Carolina Coastal Federation. “It took the entire community that cares about the lake to devise this plan and it will continue to require everyone’s participation to execute the plan so the lake can be restored as one of North Carolina’s environmental treasures.”

Hyde County, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission partnered with the federation and community members to develop the plan. Project partners are collectively seeking funding to begin implementation of the plan as part of a multi-year effort.

“Approval of the plan is excellent news and a tribute to the partners and stakeholders who worked diligently for two years to get us to this point,” added Pete Campbell, refuge manager for Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge. “Now the time to cooperatively implement the plan’s strategies begins!”

The plan sets out a blueprint for addressing water quality and flooding issues that affect the lake and surrounding lands. The initial priority actions of the watershed restoration plan concentrate on establishing active water-level management capabilities on Lake Mattamuskeet and improving water management throughout the watershed. This includes creating a formal body that provides management authority, such as a service district, to oversee water management within the watershed in close coordination with the Refuge. Engineering studies will identify and evaluate designs to divert water towards existing or restored wetlands, where nutrients and sediment can be absorbed before discharging into a water body.

“Hyde County has been fortunate to be the beneficiary of some incredible partnerships throughout the process of writing the plan,” said Daniel Brinn, water and flood control coordinator for Hyde County and a key partner in developing the plan. “Now that it has been approved we look forward to utilizing those same partnerships to move towards implementation as we seek to restore the environmental, cultural and historical gem that is Lake Mattamuskeet.”

“The Wildlife Resources Commission considers approval of the restoration plan to be a milestone in our collaborative efforts to reverse the declines in water quality in the watershed,” shared Doug Howell, migratory game bird coordinator for N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

The watershed restoration plan and information about the planning process can be found at www.nccoast.org/lakemattamuskeet. This web page will be updated regularly as plan implementation progresses.

Interested community members can also offer comments and sign up for email updates and notifications about future public meetings on the web page. Questions about the watershed restoration plan can be directed to Michael Flynn, coastal advocate for the federation’s Wanchese office, at 252-473-1607.