County, Spencer awarded $600,000 for stream cleanup

Published 12:03 am Friday, June 24, 2022

SALISBURY — The state has funneled money into the county to clean up debris from local waterways.

The county was awarded $313,000 and Spencer was awarded $280,000 from a pot of $38 million allocated for flood mitigation by the state from the Division of Soil and Water.

Rowan Soil and Water Director Chris Sloop said the county has to create a process to rank and determine where its cleanup projects will happen, because it requested more than $1.3 million for a full cleanup. Sloop said his understanding is the amount of money requested by local governments exceeded the $38 million available many times over.

“We’re going to have to go through a ranking project to determine which projects we’re actually going to work on, and that ranking project ensures we spend the money equitably and where it’s going to do the most,” Sloop said.

Spencer will spend its funding on clearing a section of Grants Creek from Old Mocksville Road to Third Street. Sloop said the county and town are expecting to work together on bidding out the projects.

Joe Morris, special projects planner for Spencer, said the town expects forestry and tree service contractors to submit bids for the cleanup. Spencer did not receive the full $750,000 it applied for to cover a larger area.

“We’ve got to report back to folks at the department of agriculture by July 6 to tell them what section we’re going go try to do, because they didn’t give us as much money as we asked for,” Morris said.

The town has to work with Salisbury-Rowan Utilities to get access to the creek on the utility’s sewer right-of-way. Morris said the project has to be underway by Feb. 28, 2023. Morris said ideally the town will have finished the project by that date.

The method of disposal for the Spencer project is up in the air. Morris said the debris will not just be taken out of the creek, but it has to be cleared from the entire 100-year foodplain so it doesn’t return to the creek after a rain. There are a few options: hiring a contractor to grind the material on site, haul logs to be ground offsite and give the chips away as mulch or compost, or burn it.

“This is essentially a forestry practice,” Morris said.

Morris said the main goal is flood mitigation but it should have some secondary benefits for recreation on the creek.

“We can open up the streams and remove the blockages they encounter on their way to the Yadkin River,” Sloop said.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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