The portion of the North Toe Watershed that is the focus of this watershed effort lies in Avery and Mitchell counties. The area extends from the headwaters of the North Toe River downstream to its confluence with Big Crabtree Creek (just a short distance upstream from North Toe and South Toe rivers confluence). North Toe River is currently not supporting its uses due to turbidity and copper water quality standard violations.
A collection of different entities interested in restoring water quality in North Toe Watershed has started meeting and strategizing how this restoration will occur. Interested parties include the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Blue Ridge Resource Conservation District – part of US Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Division of Water Quality and Wildlife Resources Commission, the Toe River Valley Watch, Nolichucky Watershed Partnership (NWP), Imerys and Unimin mining companies, Avery and Mitchell county soil and water conservation districts, municipalities, Christmas tree owners and others.
The strategy to restore the watershed will include engaging stakeholders through education, meetings and other outreach, assessing the watershed to better determine the causes and sources of the water quality problems, developing a plan that not only identifies the problems, but proposes potential solutions to the problems. These solutions will include parties responsible for solutions, a schedule of when solutions will be implemented and resources needed to address problems.
As with any watershed restoration, this process will not be easy, but with many parties already showing great interest in restoring North Toe River Watershed, this effort has great potential.