Forestry Management

Water quality monitoring and forestry management on our  Cane Creek Reservoir Mitigation Property west of Buckhorn Road

Forestry management

In accord with federal requirements, OWASA is implementing a State-approved forestry management plan at our 491-acre Cane Creek Reservoir Mitigation Tract” near Buckhorn and Mount Willing Roads.

The goal of the forestry management plan is to protect the water quality of the streams on the site as well as in the Cane Creek Reservoir, and enhance wildlife habitat. The plan includes:

  • wide, protected forested buffers along streams to protect water quality. Protected stream buffers account for 151 acres of the tract. 
  • improvements to promote diversity of plants and wildlife. 

Our work complies with North Carolina Best Practices Guidelines Related to Water Quality and recommendations in the North Carolina Forestry Best Management Practices (BMP) Manual to Protect Water Quality as amended in September 2006.

To read a letter in June 2015 from a biologist on the staff of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission about the effectiveness of forestry management at our mitigation tract, please click here.

Work to date has included:

  • 2010:  Our contractor thinned a 25-acre hardwood area near the entrance to the site to enable more robust growth of the trees and to improve wildlife habitat. The contractor cleared a 25-acre pine area on the north part of the property, and replanted it with loblolly pines as recommended by the WRC. 
  • 2013: Our contractor built an earthen access road and removable stream crossing to support our sustainable forest management activities. An aerial view of the Cane Creek Reservoir Mitigation Property and the approximate location of the stream crossing can be found by clicking here.
  • 2014: Our contractor thinned about 200 acres to promote overall forest health and vigor and improve wildlife habitat.  Thinning improves the genetics of the hardwood stand by removing the lowest quality trees and leaving the most desirable, vigorous, best formed trees of desirable species, especially oak and hickory. Thinning also enables new vegetation to grow on the forest floor as food and cover for wildlife. We cleared other small areas around the site including pines and trees damaged by Hurricane Fran.  Larger cleared areas will be replanted with loblolly and shortleaf pines. 

Above: One of the areas where we thinned hardwood trees in about 140 acres of 491-acre tract. 

  • 2015: Our contractors reseeded and stabilized the roads and “logging decks” to prevent erosion and protect stream water quality.  (A logging deck is a cleared area where logs are stored before they are loaded on trucks and where equipment can turn around.) We followed the recommendations of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission for seeding to grow grasses and groundcover as food and habitat for wildlife. The contractor spread out large piles of logs in low areas outside of streams and stream buffers to help filter sediment and thus protect the streams, and to provide cover for wildlife. 
  • 2016: We replanted trees in some of the areas managed in 2014 and thinned the 25-acre pine area cleared in 2010 and replanted with loblolly in early 2011.

Water quality monitoring

The US Forest Service and other agencies collected total suspended solids data on our property and five other sites in the Piedmont of North Carolina.  They collected data both upstream and downstream of stream crossings; the results do not show significant differences in upstream and downstream concentrations during base flow or storm flow conditions.  These results indicate that forest management best management practices help protect water quality.  To read their report, please click here.

For more information

Ruth Rouse, Planning and Development Manager, at 919-537-4214 or rrouse@owasa.org.