With a goal to protect area water sources, Watershed NOW celebrate the end of its first year as an organization by hosting the second annual Creek Week.
Creek Week, which is officially sponsored by the town of Elkin, will kick off with an event fostering learning about the environment, featuring speaker Frank Holleman. The event set for Thursday at 7 p.m. at Elkin Presbyterian Church, 151 Hillcrest Drive, will highlight “The Future of Water in NC.”
Holleman recently appeared on “60 Minutes” as a counterpoint on the Duke Energy coal ash spill, according to the Rev. Stuart Taylor, coordinator of Watershed NOW. “He’s an amazing speaker,” he said of the senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center.
A second event for Creek Week will be a time for celebration. On March 15 at 6 p.m., Brushy Mountain Winery will play host to Bandit’s Roost while the Watershed NOW members “share with the community what we’ve accomplished in our first year,” said Taylor.
A restoration project is the third event planned for Creek Week, featuring a partnership between Watershed NOW and Elkin City Schools as the middle school students become active volunteers for the project. Members of the community also are invited to join the groups March 17 at 9 a.m. in Elkin Municipal Park to restore a creek which is suffering from erosion, Taylor said. Those attending should wear boots and bring a shovel.
“We will work alongside the youngsters to restore the stream,” he said.
Taylor said Watershed NOW was formed with a goal to “observe and protect Big Elkin Creek, which is not only a source of water for this community but also for recreation in this community with those fishing and walking on the new trail.”
In addition to the people relying on the creek, he said many other animals use it as a source of water and life. “We would like to see Big Elkin Creek run free and clear 365 days a year,” Taylor said of the group’s ultimate goal.
“Together we are encouraged we can protect Big Elkin Creek, and we are encouraged there are some farmers and landowners who are partnering with us to see how we can work together,” he said, noting the goal is to protect the creek from pollution all the way to its headwaters.
“We see our watershed of the Yadkin River as our home tributary, but to be effective we wanted to focus on our home of Big Elkin Creek,” said Taylor. “A watershed is an area of land that drains into a river. It includes not only human beings, but all life forms that depend on the water.”
One of the group’s major projects through the year has been “building awareness in the community that what goes in our [storm] drains empties into the river,” he explained. Through this effort, messages are being spray-painted beside the town’s storm drains telling those who see them that the drains flow straight into waterways without being treated.
Another focus has been with the farmers, working to stress and implement best management practices on their farms in turn protecting the streams.
“We are in conversation with the town planning board on how we can strengthen our ordinance to protect our reservoir,” Taylor said.
The group’s work has crossed the Yadkin River as well. He said a year ago Watershed NOW partnered with the youth at First Baptist Church of Jonesville to do a stream clean up at Lila Swaim Park as well as a water workshop. “That was our first effort with building relationships with the Jonesville community,” Taylor said.
Watershed NOW has just formally incorporated with the state of North Carolina, and he reported the group has applied for its 501(c)(3) status. It has a board of directors and a program counsel of about 25 key volunteers, he added.
“We’re just having a blast,” Taylor said as he invited members of the community to join the group in its efforts.
Anyone interested can attend the group’s monthly meetings. To learn more visit www.watershednownc.com or call Taylor at 336-941-7710.
He invited the community to “come celebrate, serve and protect Big Elkin Creek. It’s our creek,” he said.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.