Carl White's Life in the Carolinas

Massive Erosion – PLEASE HELP US TAKE ACTION

PLEASE HELP US TAKE ACTION

Ramey Creek, Roaring Fork Creek brook trout stream demise along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Arial view courtesy of Andy Hill Mountain True

Bottomley Evergreens & Farms, Inc. and   Bottomley Properties NC, LLC (Bottomley companies) started clearing land in Alleghany and Surry County along Ramey creek off the Blue Ridge parkway.  They claimed this an agriculture operation, which in NC exempts them from all rules of the erosion and sedimentation control. This exemption means they do not need to file any permits, place any erosion controls or leave any trees standing anywhere. The NC legislature put the following exemption in the Erosion and Sediment Control Act in 2016:

     “Legislative Changes North Carolina Farm Act of 2016 (SL 2016-113, Senate Bill 770) Amended the SPCA to add a new exemption under NCGS 113A-52.01(1): This Article shall not apply to the following land-disturbing activities: (1)  Activities, including the production and activities relating or incidental to the production of crops, grains, fruits, vegetables, ornamental and flowering plants, dairy, livestock, poultry, and all other forms of agriculture undertaken on agricultural land for the production of plants and animals useful to man, including, but not limited to:…..” page 21

Erosion and Sedimentation Control – Laws and Rules

     On June 30 the Division of water quality issued a new set of violation to the Bottomley companies for failing to comply with the first set of violations issued in Nov 2020 and all the new violations. It asked them to put remediation plans to correct the situation with a threat of fines and referral to the state attorney’s office if they don’t comply. Meanwhile as of June 30th the land clearing was continuing.

     The Bottomleys have put a small heard of cows on a corner of the property, fenced it and seeded it with grass. The rest looks like mountain top removal with steep hills denuded from life. No one knows where they will stop.

     The big concerns are the Bottomley companies can use this land for agriculture for few years and then turn it into a real estate development circumventing all the permitting process, erosion control and scrutiny for such a huge development of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Also, other companies will learn the same tactic, buy huge swath of land anywhere, clear it, put some cattle or a corn field on it avoiding rules of the land and later turn it into multimillion-dollar houses. As long as that agriculture exemption is on the books, most government agencies will find themselves helpless to do anything until the damage is done and then can possibly file for violations.

     At this time many organizations (NCTU council, Mountain True, Southern environmental law center, Watauga River keeper…)  are getting involved to stop the destruction of more streams and change the exemption of the erosion and sedimentation act.

          Last item of concern is that this big bowl of deforested land, full of loose soil and rocks on top of the mountain is at high risk of land and mud slides that will threaten properties and communities below. The next time we have a hurricane or tropical storm pass over the area will bring a lot of destruction with it as hurricane Florence did in 2018 that destroyed the dam on the Mitchell and devastated roads and communities below. The Ramey Creek drainage is the next slope over from the Mitchell, has been deforested with nothing holding the soil and rocks back. This will become the bigger tragedy if it happens.

     BRTU has established the following goals::

1-      To let as many people and organizations be aware of the situation and the harm this agriculture exemption is doing to the environment.

2-      To start a writing campaign to legislators, representatives and senators to overturn or fix the exemption rule.

3-      To send letters asking the state attorney’s office and all involved agencies in their support and to ask them to enforce the laws of the land and erosion controls and not compromise on mitigation control.

4-      To support a bill or amendment in the next legislative session to change the Agriculture exemption. This will require a lot of legal work and support in the media so voters can let their representatives know how they feel about this issue.

5-      Blue Ridge TU needs members to form a committee of volunteers to organize and pursue these goals and coordinate with others so we can have the most affect in changing the situation.

     Please join us in stopping the destruction of land and trout streams on the Blue Ridge Parkway before this sets a precedent that can continue elsewhere.

     Contact at us through our website at https://www.blueridgetu.org/ or by sending us an email to blueridgetuws@gmail.com to volunteer especially if you have experience in legislative and campaigning affairs.

     Please visit us at our website to see copies of the violations, more photos, and information.