9th Annual
Watershed Gala
Thursday, February 23rd
Brasstown Valley Resort
Due to special circumstances described herein, the HRWC Board of Directors decided to present TWO Holman Water Quality Stewardship Awards in 2017! Many of you know the story, but for those who haven't heard, here is the very brief version. During the 1990s the Ecological Health Rating that TVA once assigned to its reservoirs declined from "Good" to "Poor." A major cause was an excess of nutrients flowing into the lake. These nutrients caused algae concentrations to climb and dissolved oxygen levels at the bottom of the lake to plummet in the summer. After years of monitoring and study, HRWC published the Lake Chatuge Watershed Action Plan in 2007, outlining 18 broad objectives for improving water quality and the overall health of the lake and detailing specific recommendations for meeting the objectives. Ten years later, 56% less phosphorus is entering Lake Chatuge every year and nearly 60% less nitrogen!
  
2016 Holman Water Quality Stewardship Award
Many volunteers have dedicated hundreds of hours, private landowners have voluntarily made improvements on their own properties, and TVA, HRWC and the Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources assisted with funding and technical support. However, the majority of the credit for this effort goes to former Towns County Sole Commissioner, Bill Kendall and the City of Hiawassee led by Mayor, Barbara Mathis. Because of the vast list of accomplishments by both the county and the city that culminated with the installation of nutrient reduction technology at the Hiawassee wastewater treatment plant in 2016, the HRWC board made the unprecedented decision to present two Holman Water Quality Stewardship Awards this year. 
  
The Watershed Gala will be held in the grand ballroom of Brasstown Valley Resort. The evening will begin at 5:30 with a silent auction, raffle and cash bar. The plated meal will be served starting at 6:30. After the awards are presented, several select items will be auctioned live by local auctioneer and entertainer, Tim Ryan. Reservations are $45/each or $400 for a reserved table for ten and must be made in advance. Reservations may be secured by mailing a check to HRWC, PO Box 889, Murphy, NC 28906 or by reserving your place onlineCorporate sponsors of the 2017 Watershed Gala include  Tennessee Valley Authority and  Brasstown Valley Resort . We are grateful for their generosity!
Reservations must be mailed by  February 17th or made online before noon on February 20th.  Reserve your place today!
Volunteers are needed to provide lunches for college students participating in our Alternative Spring Break program.
March Madness Watershed-Style!

Our "March Madness" starts in February this year! During "spring break season" HRWC hosts several groups of college students from schools all over the eastern U.S. who are participating in Alternative Spring Break projects. Basically these students give up a leisurely vacation to come and do a week of service work in our watershed! Volunteers are needed to provide lunch for 10-15 students on 12 different weekdays starting on Feb 20th! This saves us hundreds of dollars every year and the students really appreciate it too! To volunteer, email Raleigh or call 828-837-5414.

Visit the Alternative Breaks page to see a "yearbook" of schools that have participated...
Clare Johnston and Ray Covington from the GA Mountain Research and Education Center learn how to measure dissolved oxygen.
Adopt-A-Stream Team Going Strong in the New Year!

Seven new volunteers joined our Adopt-A-Stream water quality monitoring team on January 28, 2017 and two others were re-certified for water chemistry at our first workshop of the New Year!! After beautiful spring-like weather, this particular morning was quite cold, but streams need sampling in the winter too! The next set of workshops is planned for Saturday, April 29th at Outdoor Leadership Center at Young Harris College. Let us know if you're interested!

Learn more about our monitoring program...
Boteler Fire taken by Charlie Kissling on November 10, 2016          from Cold Branch in Clay County, NC
Water Extremes

We went from an extreme high water year in 2015 (42 inches above normal in Clay County) to an extreme drought in 2016 (13 inches below normal in Clay County)! Too bad we couldn't have captured all those flood waters in December 2015 and held them over somehow until November 2016 when we were so dry! We are fortunate to have our TVA reservoirs that do the best possible job of balancing out the water for us. And having Lake Chatuge nearby was so helpful for the firefighters when it came time to battle the thousands of acres that were burning across Nantahala & Chattahoochee National Forests. What kind of water year will this be? So far, January's precipitation was about average or slightly above. Clay and Cherokee counties are still in the "Severe" drought category and Towns and Union are still in "Extreme" drought! We're hoping that we'll continue to have above average precipitation, but that it doesn't come in the form of floods! Interested in tracking the progress? Click here for the US Drought Monitor.
Hikers walk through the "shut-in" on the Fires Creek Rim Trail near Tusquitee Bald.
Events Calendar Starting
to Fill - Two Hikes Upcoming
  
On Sunday, April 2, HRWC will again co-host a moderate full day hike up Short Branch to the Fires Creek Rim Trail and ultimately Tusquitee Bald. Then on Saturday, April 15, the outing will be more of a "walk in the woods" along a 3-mile length of the John Muir National Recreation Trail near Reliance, TN. This one is a wildflower walk extraordinaire! Other outings and events are planned and more will be forthcoming!

Note from the Executive Director

I apologize for the long period of no communications since last October! The 2016 State of the Water was well attended (thank you for that!), but if you weren't able to be there and you're interested in the information, visit our State of the Water web page. In the sidebar on the right, the presentation is available along with a variety of maps that interpret the water quality impairments from the states' perspectives. This year's event will be held on Tuesday, October 24th at 5:30pm. It's Cherokee County's turn to host and the location will be the new, large classroom in the Crisp Building at Tri-County Community College. But we have lots of work to do between now and then! Here are some ways you can help!

See you around the watershed,
Callie D. Moore

Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition | info@hrwc.net | 828-837-5414 | www.hrwc.net