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Protect the Catawba's Wilderness! Comments Due 12/15

Protect the Catawba's Wilderness! Comments Due 12/15

U.S. Forest Service asking for comments as it evaluates Wilderness Study Areas in Upper Basin

Protect the Catawba's Wilderness! Comments Due 12/15

Map of the upper basin and inventoried areas in the Wilderness study by the USFS; Catawba River basin is any area within the bright green line.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015 is the final day to submit comments on Wilderness designations. Two areas covering more than 12,000 acres in the upper Catawba basin -- Harper Creek and Lost Cove -- have been Wilderness Study Areas and recommended for Wilderness designations for almost 30 years. These are gorgeous areas with incredible biodiversity, waterfalls, old growth and virgin forests, beautiful mountain streams full of trout and amazing recreation opportunities. They drain to Johns River and Wilson Creek, which has been designated a Wild and Scenic River.

However, there are other interests (i.e., timber) critically threatening the area. And not only could these areas be directly affected, the impacts would make their way to one of the most impaired parts of the Catawba River -- Lake Rhodhiss, which has long had nutrient and sediment overloading problems. Preserving good water quality upstream is critical to improving water quality on Lake Rhodhiss. We would also love to see neighboring Upper Wilson Creek and Harper Creek Ext (Sugar Knob) designated as Wilderness, too.

What can you do? Submit comments!

Background information is available here:

Please complete the USFS evaluation form and email to with the subject line: "Wilderness evaluation input." You can also provide general comment.

Have no doubt, you can find the definition of Wilderness in Harper Creek, Lost Cove, and surrounding areas. For that reason, as well as to preserve the quality of water draining these areas, they are worth protecting. That definition, as spelled out in The Wilderness Act of 1964:

(c) A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. An area of wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (3) has at least five thousand acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and (4) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value.

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Tell your Riverkeeper if you see:

  • Sewage Overflows
  • Failure to control sediment from construction sites
  • Illegal clearing of buffer areas
  • Fish kills 
  • Unpermitted discharges
  • Other issues that concern you

Click here to fill out a pollution reportor to report water pollution to Catawba Riverkeeper by phone, call 1-888-679-9494 or 704-679-9494.  In addition, to informing your Riverkeeper, you should also report spills or contamination to federal, state and local environmental officials.

To report South Carolina water pollution call 1-888-481-0125.

To report North Carolina spills or fish kills, call your local regional Department of Environment & Natural Resources office during normal business hours (704-663-1699 for most Catawba basin areas or (828) 296-4500 for Burke, Caldwell, McDowell and other mountain counties) or 800-858-0368 after hours.  (For more information on NC spill reporting, click here)

715 N. Church St., Suite 120 . Charlotte, NC 28202 . Phone: 704.679.9494 . Fax: 704.679.9559