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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!
Join ECWAJoin ECWA. Your family can join ECWA for as little as 11 cents per day. Help us protect the creek, restore the creek and connect the community to the creek.
 
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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Why become Creek Smart®?

Becoming Creek Smart® is one way you can help to protect the water in your local stream or river. An important part of the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association’s mission is to restore the Ellerbe to a healthy, living creek. Yet the greatest threat to the Ellerbe is stormwater runoff.

Every time it rains, stormwater runs off our city streets, buildings, homes and driveways through storm drains and pipes, and into Ellerbe Creek. Like other cities, our 19th and 20th century stormwater system was designed to get the water off properties and into the creek as quickly as possible, with no consideration for water quality protection. We treat water, our most valuable natural resource, as waste! The result is that even small amounts of rain create unnaturally high stream flows that erode creek banks and pollute the water with toxic chemicals, excessive nutrients, and trash.

The good news is that we can help restore a more natural, cleaner Ellerbe Creek by being Creek Smart®.

The Natural Water Cycle
The Urban Water Cycle
A More Sustainable Water Cycle

Water Cycles
Images from: Auckland City Council, 2010

What is Creek Smart®?

The stormwater problem isn’t natural! In a native Piedmont landscape, two-thirds of the rainfall is evaporated or transpired by plants, never getting past the trees! The rest slowly soaks into the ground, where it moves under the soil surface until it emerges in downhill stream channels. Along the way, the soil and plants filter out nitrogen, phosphorus, metals, and other nutrients, and only about one-fourth of the total rainfall flows into Piedmont creeks. In this natural landscape, the water and its nutrients improve the soil and feed the plants, and the creek stays clean and healthy.

You can become Creek Smart® by making your home and yard behave more like a natural landscape, treating the water as a resource rather than as waste. Dedicate a small part of your yard to the creek! Try one of the practices listed.

The City of Durham provides funding for ECWA to install a limited number of rain gardens and cisterns each year. If you live in the watershed and are interested in having your yard assessed for possible installation of a rain garden or cistern, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

If you are interested in becoming Creek Smart®, attend an upcoming workshop or class. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..