Whether you need water to wash your dog or to have a nice refreshing drink, the one thing we all know is that our water needs to be clean. Clean water is a vital part of our everyday lives, and through the Upstream Matters campaign, we can bring awareness of Raleigh’s water sources so we can keep it safe and clean for our communities. This matters greatly since Ellerbe Creek's waters all flow into Falls Lake, the drinking source for the city of Raleigh!
It’s because of clean water that small businesses can thrive, local farms are nourished and, above all, we all have clean water to use, drink, and play in. So, how can we ensure it remains clean? To answer that, we have to look upstream.
In the Triangle, our water source comes from the Upper Neuse River Basin, and making sure it’s well protected keeps our water clean for eating, drinking and playing.
Thankfully, there are programs and partnerships like the Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative that work with local and state governmental agencies and landowners to keep our water clean and healthy. Thanks to City of Raleigh water ratepayers, an average of about 57 cents of their water utility bill goes toward funding those programs that ensure our water remains clean.
Regardless of what your use for water is, you can be assured there are organizations actively working together to keep the upstream clean –and together we can continue to make it possible for them to succeed. To learn more about why Upstream Matters, visit upstreammatters.org.
I’m excited to announce that we only have $1888 left to raise on our $75,000 goal. We’ll be continuing to post to instagram and facebook about this effort through the end of January, so please do your part by liking and forwarding on any messages you see about the end of year campaign to prospective donors. If we can significantly surpass our goal, we can begin to look at the many unfunded priorities we wanted to tackle in 2020!
On Saturday the weather was perfect for a hike around Beaver Marsh Preserve and on the trail that follows the Army Corps of Engineers berm that artificially separates the creek from the marsh and forested floodplain. I am always struck by this beautiful floodplain forest. Even though it’s in an urban area, it’s actually a fairly high quality intact example of a functioning floodplain ecosystem. It’s got a lot of challenges (I’ll outline those below) but what a chance we have to keep this forest intact and allow it to continue to be great habitat for all of these creatures we normally don’t find in the city (like the cricket pictured here that I stumbled on during my hike).
We’ve got huge ecological problems on the horizon, but as a strong organization with lots of volunteer stewardship energy and a growing professional staff, we can actually manage these areas in a more responsible way than is possible in rural areas without the same resources. So I’m just really excited about all the possibilities in 2020 and hope that you are as well. Together we’re going to accomplish some really amazing things this year.
Happy New Year,
The Land Protection Committee met this week to discuss a number of exciting potential opportunities for future nature preserve acquisition. In particular, I’m most excited that we may have the chance connect the current Veasey Nature Preserve with Glennstone through a potential future land purchase. This would not only allow us to connect natural areas from the Ellerbe floodplain to our Veasey lands, but would also provide an opportunity to connect trails to any future Ellerbe Creek greenway that runs downstream from the city of Durham.
I try to keep tabs on the Planning, Environmental Affairs Board, and City Council meeting agendas to make sure we know about the topics they are considering and have time to respond if we feel the need to do so. For those of you interested in staying up to speed on local politics and decisionmaking, the Durham City Council meeting is tonight (Monday, Dec. 16th). Even if you don’t attend, it’s useful to look at the agenda to see what they are working on for any given month. The agendas can be found at https://durhamnc.gov/AgendaCenter/City-Council-4.
And I’m VERY excited about a small event/workday that our stewardship coordinator is pulling together for this Friday, Dec. 20th. Some of us will be out with any available stewards burning the brush piles that were created when clearing out trees in our future potential woodland/prairie restoration in Glennstone. For me, this is a test run to see if we can consider having a larger solstice burn event in conjunction with prairie restoration. It’s something I was involved in when I lived in Chicago and we were restoring woodlands and prairies there, and I found it to be one of the most exciting ways to engage the public (I mean, who doesn’t love standing by a fire on the first day of winter out in the middle of nature).
Peace, love, beaver,
The mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)is one of the first butterflies to re-emerge in North Carolina. This species is the longest lived in the United States, surviving up to 11 months. The adults are dormant in winter, and then re-emerge, wings imperfect and worn, during the first warm days of late winter and early spring.
This time of year, males are quite bold, bravely chasing birds out of their 300 square meter territories. In early spring, males and females perform a beautiful mating dance, spiraling upward through the air. The females will then lay clusters of eggs on their favorite food plants, black willows, as well as other willow species, elms, birches and hackberries. Although the females die shortly thereafter, caterpillars will emerge from the eggs in April. After three weeks, this brood will have pupated and emerged as fresh, young mourning cloaks.
The adult mourning cloaks are usually found in woodlands, where they feed on tree sap (especially oak sap), rotting fruit and occasionally nectar, and build up stores for the winter.
Did you know?
Identification: The mourning cloak has brown wings with small blue spots bordering a yellow edge. It reaches 2 ¼ to 4 inches in length.
It’s a great day at ECWA when a landowner calls and asks, “Can we talk?”
Late in fall 2017, this was the exciting situation when two landowners contacted the land protection team about conserving their properties with ECWA. Both sites, located just north of the city limits, fall within the Ellerbe Creek watershed and were properties that ECWA had long been interested in protecting.
Thanks to Edward and Marlou Bacon and funding from the City of Raleigh’s Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative, sixty-two acres of gently sloping former agricultural fields with open meadows and both young and mature hardwood forests have been added to ECWA’s Veasey Farm Preserve, creating a green space now more than 250 acres.
Located only two miles from Falls Lake and five miles from downtown Durham, the expansion includes smaller tributaries to Ellerbe Creek that wind through the property. Along with protecting drinking water for the Triangle, this conservation property may one day allow for agricultural use, educational opportunities, and public recreation.
Just west of the Veasey Farm Preserve is a pie shaped sliver of land adjacent to the Army Corps of Engineers’ Falls Lake Game Lands, and around the corner from the beloved Heron Rookery. These 5 acres were purchased years ago as part of a nearby development, but due to its location and limited access, the site was never developed. ECWA’s ongoing relationship with the landowner, Cimarron Homes paid off. Knowing ECWA’s reputation for protecting, restoring, and connecting Durham to Ellerbe Creek, Cimarron Homes’ President Craig Morrison was moved to donate the property to ECWA.
The Triangle Community Foundation generously provided ECWA with a grant to cover closing costs and to increase ECWA’s Stewardship Legacy Fund. We are excited that more land protected means more breathing room for the herons, migratory birds, and other wildlife in our vibrant, rapidly expanding city.