OWASA Board defers consideration of draft Forest Management Plan
On Thursday night, December 9, 2010, the OWASA Board of Directors deferred consideration of the Draft Forest Management Plan presented at a community meeting on November 30, 2010.
(Links to sections of the draft plan and related background information are below.)
OWASA staff is continuing to work on a draft response to public comments including those from the community meeting in Novermber, 2010. When the draft response is ready, staff will submit it to an OWASA Board Committee and share it with local governments and citizens. After consideration by the OWASA Committee, the draft will be revised as needed and provided to the full OWASA Board. The OWASA Board has agreed that it will not make decisions on the draft plan until OWASA has made presentations to and considered comments from the Orange County Board of Commissioners, Carrboro Board of Aldermen and Chapel Hill Town Council. OWASA will also receive additional public comments.
OWASA does not have a timetable for the process noted above, and OWASA does not have any active forest management work in progress or scheduled at this time.
OWASA is committed to making a decision that is in the interest of the overall public good, the environment and, most importantly, our community's drinking water supply.
To read a statement by OWASA Board Chair Gordon Merklein at the December 9th Board meeting, please click here.
OWASA owns more than 3,700 acreas of land, most of which is forest land purchased to protect our community's drinking water supply. Just as with our water resources, we have an ongoing responsiblity to manage our forest resources for the long-term benefit of our customers, the greater community, and the environment.
Our forest lands are a valuable, renewable resource and provide a number of essential ecosystem benefits, including but not limited to:
- processing carbon dioxide into oxygen.
- helping to maintain water quality by filtering pollutants and preventing erosion.
- serving as a “sink” where carbon is accumulated and stored.
- providing and supporting diverse wildlife habitats.
With assistance from the North Carolina Division of Forest Resources; the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; the Duke Forest Manager; and our expert forestry consultant, True North Forest Management Services, we have established the following primary objectives of our forestry management program (listed in priority order):
1. Protect water quality (including, at a minimum, compliance with the riparian buffer protection requirements in the recently adopted Jordan Lake Rules).
2. Establish and maintain adequate riparian forest buffers to serve as an effective filter for runoff and prevent sedimentation of streams and other surface waters.
3. Enhance forest conditions for wildlife health and species diversity and abundance by creating a forest of diverse habitat types and conditions.
4. Minimize impacts of forestry management activities on adjacent properties.
5. Improve, restore and enhance the overall quality of OWASA-owned woodlands through a long-range program of managing the forests in accordance with sound, science-based silvicultural practices.
6. Generate revenue through the sustainable harvesting of timber to meet the above objectives, with the goal of having long-term forestry program revenues equal or exceed the costs to develop, implement and maintain OWASA’s forest stewardship plan.
The following are links to the different sections of the draft Forest Management Plan.