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October 30, 2013
Guest Columnist Alan Propst has pointed out that a 4,500+ acre tract between the Florence-Whortonsville Road and Trent Road could be converted from wetlands to farmland and seriously impair the watershed to the Neuse River. Some of the Atlas Tract has already been clear-cut and Propst raises concerns that state and federal officials could approve the conversion of that land to agriculture. He estimates that 75% of it is wetland, which under federal law, would prohibit its conversion to farmland. Propst wrote that as wetland, it can absorb pollutants as a sponge would, but that as farmland it would likely be sprayed with chemicals, which would quickly run-off in to ditches and creeks that lead to the nurseries for fish and shrimp in the Bay and Neuse Rivers. He urged readers to contact the state and federal agencies that are supposed to enforce the environmental laws.
His column prompted letters.
I read with interest the letters from Allen Propst & Mindy Schmitz about the work on the Atlas Tract along Florence Road. I live on Florence Rd & I can tell you they are working hard. I once heard a question: which state in the Union had the highest percentage of land development, and was surprised to learn that it was Iowa, with almost 97% of its land developed, primarily in agriculture. Agricultural development is near the top of the list for intensity of development.
In 2002 Nancy and I studied the results of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in their efforts to clean up the Bay as part of permitting under-dock oyster gardens in NC. The Bay Foundation just finished a 20-year audit and the main result is that, even with all their actions along the shoreline of the Chesapeake, little had been accomplished due to the inability to deal with upstream pollution and runoff, which much of it was from farms. Do you think we will take notice?
I have personally dealt with local land owners and the efforts of DENR to limit a local owner to even mow their land, as they had done for decades, below the tree canopy. The state dealt harshly with this local owner. I would be stunned if they take no notice of a different owner blatantly destroying such a large wetland area.
Darrell Wiard and Nancy Crain
Thank you to Alan Propst for his efforts to raise awareness of a serious threat to the (relatively) clean water of Pamlico county.
As one who sailed for years on Long Island Sound, I witnessed first hand the adverse effects of impervious surface run-off (from development), agricultural run-off, and inadequate sewage treatment/storm run-off to the fishing, cleanliness and beauty of much of the water of Long Island Sound – and that was in a watershed that was “flushed” daily by ocean tides!
Preventing the documented effects of the run-off described before it can occur is the best answer. Please join him and me in contacting the people and agencies he lists to object to declaring the Atlas Tract uplands and/or allowing it to be converted to farmland. Anyone who walks this land will clearly see it as wetlands. (Wear your Pamlico waders!)
Melinda (Mindy) Schmitz
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