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Ellerbe Creek
Watershed Association
YouTube Icon We are excited to be rolling out a series of Ellerbe & Me videos as part of our end of year campaign. Look for a new video each week, and consider supporting ECWA so we can continue to create and document more Ellerbe & Me stories across the watershed!
Working TogetherMeet the newest member of the team that keeps ECWA working - Director of Conservation, Cherri Smith.
Explorer's ClubSign up for nature hikes, Family Explorers Club, preserve workdays, and Green Infrastructure workshops. They're all happening at ECWA nature preserves!
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The Rocks Nature Preserve
Youth Conservation Corps

at Glennstone Nature Preserve

Image from ECWA wildlife camera
at Glennstone Nature Preserve

ECWA 2014 Creek Tour

Glennstone Nature Preserve

Artwork by Melanie Middleton's kindergarten class from EK Powe Elementary School about their science class field trips to the 17 Acre Wood

Bald Eagle at Beaver Marsh Preserve
(photo by j meehan)

Introducing the 2017 Beaver Queen

FUR-EDDIE MERCURY

photo by Lyn Steuart

Eight-year-old Esther Hernandez-Alvarez collects soil samples near Goose Creek. Read More

Eight-year-old Esther Hernandez-Alvarez collects soil samples near Goose Creek. Read More

Eight-year-old Esther Hernandez-Alvarez collects soil samples near Goose Creek. Read More

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Upcoming Events

 

Behind an abandoned movie theater, just off Interstate 85 and above an urban wetland, 10 young people spent last week blazing half a mile of trails.

Maybe not quite blazing – more like chopping, pulling, digging, filling, grading and bridging half a mile through heat, bugs, brush and matted tangles of English ivy,...

The EPA's proposed revocation of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) definition and its proposed replacement ... is a threat to our non-regulatory approach to restoring Ellerbe Creek. For this reason, the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association has major concerns about both of these proposed agency actions ...

The Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, City of Durham Stormwater Services, American Rivers, Downtown Durham, Inc., and the Triangle J Council of Governments are conducting a study in the Ellerbe Creek Watershed to identify opportunities for small stormwater retrofits (e.g. green roofs, rain gardens) with the potential to improve water quality in the creek.

It’s bawdy, it’s irreverent, but it also bills itself as family-friendly, and all the money raised goes for an environmental cause — to improve the water quality of Ellerbe Creek.

It is the annual Beaver Queen Pageant, and the 13th annual contest for the queen of the wetlands will be held Saturday, June 3, in Duke Park. Just about everything that is said at the pageant or published on the Beaver Queen website is a pun...

“Fur-Eddie Mercury” on Saturday was crowned the 2017 Beaver Queen after a competitive Beaver Queen Pageant that included singing, comedy and lots of double entendres.

The annual Beaver Queen Pageant, held the first Saturday in June at Duke Park, is a fundraiser for the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association. Funds are raised in large part by guests and contestants “bribing” judges — legally — to get their votes as well as participants paying $5 per vote.

The Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association visits Durham classrooms and holds outdoor lessons as part of its Explorers Club, which connects students in kindergarten through fifth grade to environmental education opportunities and fosters a love of the outdoors. The nonprofit’s big-picture mission is advocating for a healthy Ellerbe Creek, which runs through Durham and empties into Falls Lake, and protecting more than 340 acres of land along the creek and its tributary streams.

While out fishing on a lake with her father, 7-year-old Laura Smith lost one of her baby teeth. As the tooth was falling out, she hooked a big fish.

“That’s one of our family folk tales,” said Smith, now a parent as well as a stormwater expert with the city of Durham. “When families spend time in nature together, they are building the foundation for a lifelong environmental ethic, not to mention forming great memories.”

From Allibay and Watery Branch to Pinhook and Allergy Creek, the history of Ellerbe and South Ellerbe creeks is long and colorful. During his 1701 trek through the wilderness of the Carolinas, John Lawson headed east from Occaneechi Town (near what is now Hillsborough). Lawson wrote of hiking 14 difficult miles, "a sad stoney way," to the next village, called Adshusheer.

The Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association visits Durham classrooms and holds outdoor lessons as part of its Explorers Club, which connects students in kindergarten through fifth grade to environmental education opportunities and fosters a love of the outdoors. The nonprofit’s big-picture mission is advocating for a healthy Ellerbe Creek, which runs through Durham and empties into Falls Lake, and protecting more than 340 acres of land along the creek and its tributary streams.

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Problem

Many of our urban soils lost their natural layer of topsoil or were compacted during development. These unhealthy, compacted soils cannot maintain healthy plants or infiltrate large amounts of rainfall the way a native landscape would do. Since these soils cannot retain water and lack nutrients, homeowners end up using excessive water and fertilizer to grow plants and grass. The result is that unhealthy soils create lots of nutrient-laden runoff that goes directly to Ellerbe Creek, causing flooding and stream bank erosion.

Healthy Soil

Healthy Soil
Image source: Animalia Project

Solution

Consider converting at least 20% of your yard to a more natural landscape to help protect the creek. Start by building new topsoil that can support native plants or a beautiful garden for you to enjoy. A healthy forest soil has up to 50% air, so just 1,000 square feet (a 33x33 foot area) of a healthy, 6-inch deep soil can store over 1,500 gallons of water. Having a diversity of plants, specifically native plants and trees, helps build healthy soil and provides biodiversity for wildlife and pollinators. Using no or minimal fertilizer allows soil organisms to break down leaves and other organic matter, creating healthier soil which provides nutrients for plants and holds water naturally for dry times.

Native garden with lawn

Native garden with lawn
Image source: ECWA