Growing up, my family and I would visit Falls Lake every weekend to help us relax and unwind from a long week. I have so many fond memories of hiking, swimming, jet skiing, and picnicking there.
Over the years, however, my family visited Falls Lake less often as we realized that the quality of the water in Falls Lake was declining due to people littering and misusing the resources of the lake. This progressive decline helped me understand the importance of protecting our local waterways.
The first Cape Fear Creek Week will be celebrated March 13-18 with activities designed to educate residents on the importance of protecting our precious water resources. The Cape Fear River Basin provides our local communities with resources including drinking water, agriculture, careers and recreation. This beautiful and expansive basin serves 26 counties within the state of North Carolina, with its 6,584 total miles of streams and rivers, 34,796 total acres of lakes, and 24,472 acres of estuary. A plethora of plant and wildlife species are indigenous to this basin, including the well-known cypress trees, American alligators, striped bass, Eastern oysters, and Southern magnolias.
The Cape Fear River and its creeks and waterways face a number of threats such as climate change, stormwater runoff, and pollution from man-made chemicals.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines environmental stewardship as "the responsible use and protection of the natural environment through conservation and sustainable practices to enhance ecosystem resilience and human well-being”. Brunswick and New Hanover county residents can become environmental stewards in their own backyard by participating in Cape Fear Creek Week, with scheduled events such as educational presentations, nature hikes and tours, a photo contest, volunteer opportunities, a water quality monitoring program, and more! For a full list of Creek Week events, visit https://brunswick.ces.ncsu.edu/natural-resources-2/cape-fear-creek-week/.
Cape Fear Creek Week is a collaboration between several nonprofit, academic, and municipal agencies working together to protect natural resources in the Lower Cape Fear area. The Cape Fear Creek Week Committee was started by Amy Mead with N.C. Cooperative Extension and Anna Reh Gingerich with the City of Wilmington’s Heal our Waterways. Also on the committee are Hannah Bell with New Hanover Soil and Water, Bryce Tholan with North Carolina Coastal Land Trust, and Kristen Rhodes and Katie Clay with Cape Fear River Watch.
The Cape Fear Creek Week Committee encourages everyone to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to learn more about ways they can protect the health of our creeks and waterways. It is important that we as a community continue to remember that in order for our people to be healthy and happy, they first need to live in a healthy and happy environment.
The Cape Fear River Basin has served our communities for hundreds of years, and it is our duty now to make sure that it is able to serve our communities hundreds of years into the future.
Katie Clay is a UNCW School of Public Health intern with Cape Fear River Watch.