On November 30th, 2010, OWASA Board members and representatives of the Division of Forestry held a meeting to answer questions about a proposed “Forest Management Plan” which would impact 1775 acres of forested land. Over 175 citizens attended a community meeting at Maple View Farms to express concern about the impact logging operations would have on water quality and wildlife habitat. See Crowd Wary of OWASA Logging Plan.
The tracts of land owned by OWASA are located in the vicinity of Cane Creek Reservoir and are located in the Cane Creek and University Lake watersheds according to this OWASA map. The Jordan Lake Watershed includes these smaller watersheds plus a much larger area.
Beginning in the 1980’s, the Orange County, Carrboro and Chapel governments (who appoint members of the OWASA Board) encouraged the utility to buy tracts of land located in the watershed to protect the tributaries of Cane Creek by protecting forests near Cane Creek Reservoir and its tributaries.
According to a plan developed with the help of consultants and the Division of Forest Resources, the Forest Management Plan calls for logging on these tracts purchased for the goal of protecting water quality. Citizens pointed out to OWASA Board members that logging threatens ecological diversity and the health of our forests and the wild life that depends on undisturbed areas for survival. Citizens questioned that this proposed Plan would sustain the best conditions for wildlife habitat and water quality.
In a letter to the OWASA Board Ms. McCall said, “We are alarmed that OWASA, who has always represented themselves as being supportive of good stewardship of the lands in the watershed, is now planning to take out many sections of old growth forest, clear cut large tracts of land and spray with herbicides in preparation for planting mono cultures of Loblolly pine within the watershed area and in very close proximity to the reservoir itself…”
Gordon Merklein, the OWASA Board Chair, said at the end of the meeting that the Board has not decided when they will review the proposed Forest Management Plan.
Public comments may be mailed to Chair Gordon Merklein until December 2 to this address: 400 Jones Ferry Road, Carrboro, 27510. Further comments after the formal public comment period ends may be addressed to this email.