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Ellerbe Creek
Watershed Association
Working TogetherMeet the newest members of the team that keeps ECWA working - Director of Conservation, Cherri Smith and CTNC Diversity Intern, Val Quintero.
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.
Explorer's ClubSign up for nature hikes, Family Explorers Club, preserve workdays, and Green Infrastructure workshops. They're all happening at ECWA nature preserves!
Creek SmartIntroducing the new, an easy-to-use and comprehensive resource for learning how to reduce your stormwater footprint!
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


photo by Lyn Steuart


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 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 thirteenth annual Beaver Queen Pageant is this Saturday in Duke Park. The Clarion Content is a long-time fan.It is the big annual fundraiser for the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association. Ellerbe Creek is one of our area’s most important watersheds and environmentally diverse habitats.

It all started with a group of individuals trying to save a beaver den from an Interstate Highway. This year the theme of the Beaver Queen is the Wizard of Gnaws. (eg. Oz).

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 Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative, working with landowners, foresters, and municipal governments, implements sustainable forestry practices on more than 50 properties to protect drinking water downstream.

Raleigh, N.C. – The Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative completed work this fall on a $1.7 million grant from the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities. The three-year grant awarded in 2010 was part of the Healthy Watersheds through Healthy Forests Initiative, which directed monies to three projects nationwide to safeguard drinking water supplies by implementing sustainable forest management upstream from reservoirs.

The grant enabled the partnership of seven local land trusts, coordinated by the Conservation Trust for North Carolina, to work with landowners and foresters within the 770-square mile Upper Neuse River basin to identify and implement forest management practices that will protect drinking water for more than 600,000 people in Wake, Durham, Orange, and Granville counties.

The land trusts worked with private forest landowners to voluntarily adopt practices that improve forest management, enhance forest health, and increase forest cover – practices that benefit the nine drinking reservoirs in the Upper Neuse basin while helping landowners grow economically viable and sustainably managed timber. The partners helped create 38 Forest Stewardship Plans covering 5,412 acres, helped implement 26 forest management projects covering 856 acres, and completed six working forest conservation easements covering 668 acres.

A Forest Stewardship Plan is prepared by a certified forester and outlines activities and a timeline for management actions that will enhance a forest for wildlife, soil and water quality, timber production, recreational opportunities, and/or natural beauty, depending on an individual landowner’s objectives. Forest management projects are the actions taken to implement the Plan, and represent sustainable forestry in practice.

Working forest conservation easements restrict specific types of development on a property to protect forest values while enabling landowners to earn income from the land through sustainable forestry. All of these tools allow landowners to conserve their forest resources for long-term benefits, but still derive income to support the ongoing costs of ownership and stewardship.

partners also purchased and donated steel bridge mats and a rehab plow to the North Carolina Forest Service. This equipment, which is available to loggers in the Upper Neuse basin at no charge, will enable foresters to manage forests and harvest timber with greatly reduced impacts to water quality.

Working with the UNC Environmental Finance Center, Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative partners also created tools to inform local governments about financing options to fund drinking water protection. The information helped Raleigh and Durham approve minimal increases in water rates in 2011 to establish new funding sources to conserve lands along the streams that feed drinking water reservoirs.

“The generous grant from the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities enabled local land trusts to work with landowners to conserve and sustainably manage nearly 7,000 acres of forests in the Upper Neuse River basin,” said Reid Wilson, Executive Director of the Conservation Trust for North Carolina. “This common sense approach to maintaining water quality will safeguard downstream drinking water supplies like Falls Lake for decades to come.”

The Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative (UNCWI) is a partnership effort to prioritize and protect those lands most critical for the long-term health of drinking water supplies in the Upper Neuse River Basin in central North Carolina. The land trusts involved in the Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative include the Conservation Trust for North Carolina (coordinator), Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, Eno River Association, Tar River Land Conservancy, Triangle Greenways Council, Triangle Land Conservancy, and the Trust for Public Land.