Author Archives: Roger Clapp

Watershed Film Series

Watershed Film Series Wednesday August 22, 2012

WATR is hosting a short film series all about our water. We welcome everyone to join us at the Swain Middle School media center on August 22, 2012 from 7:00-9:00p.m. We will have a community discussion after the films. We would like to give a special thanks to Rob Hawk (Agricultural Extension Service) and Janice Inabinett (WNC Alliance) for their help with the film series.

Protect your stream by “adopting it!”

At our Public Meeting at the end of May, Rick Queen described the NC “Stream Watch” program that is offered through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.  — So what’s it all about?  The state guys know that it is neighbors who live on or near the creek that know the most about its health simply be seeing the creek every day.   Stream Watchers usually sign up as small teams for certain stretches of creek.  A team commits to two inspections (with trash cleanup) per year, macro invert sampling, and other data collections…all pretty simple, especially with support from WATR.  According to Rick, the obligations are pretty easy but the benefits to the health of our creeks can be enormous.   Questions: Contact Rickat or (828) 550-8487.

Rick Queen, “Train Wrecka-Becca” (Back to us. Sorry!), US Fish & Wildlife guy Mark Cantrell, and Craig Green share a lighter moment.

Rich has signed up as Stream Watcher for a mile of Greens Creek.  Sunny Himes and Jane Fitzgerald (of the Jackson County Soil & Water Conservation District Office) have indicated an interest in Stream Watching for Savannah Creek – a creek of great concern  given the high levels of sediment.  WATR member or not, it would be GREAT if you explored being a Stream Watcher for your stream. Go to
Roger C.

River Cane Chronicles IV: Important Invitation

The WATR River Cane Mapping & Education Project is gearing up for the summer, and WE NEED YOU and other volunteers.   The purposes of the project are

  • to educate ourselves and the public about the ecological and the cultural benefits of native river cane,
  • to snoop around creeks and rivers and locate river cane brakes that we can map, and
  • to work with the landowner to get permission so that artisans can sustainably harvest stalks on his/her property.

So click here to find out the details of the workshop — must RSVP by Friday, May 18,  for a free lunch.  NOW THAT’S AN INCENTIVE!!!

Jim Long strips a stalk of cane as WATR member Judy Knight watches

The Must-See Conservation Film, Thurs. April 19

On Thursday, April 19, at 7:00 – 8:30 PM, there will be a must-see documentary movie at the Smoky Mountain Community Theater (130 Main Street, Bryson City).  It recalls the life of perhaps the most influential U.S. conservationists of the 20th century, Aldo Leopold.  The movie is more than dry history — it is a contemporary summons to challenge us to take care of the natural resources around us.

You should put his name up there in your pantheon of great American conservationists, along with Henry David Thoreau and John Muir.  Leopold is the author of the Sand County Almanac and the writer of “a land ethic” — a brief essay calling for a redefinition our relationship with the very land that we live on.  He is the instigator of “watershed restoration.”

If you do one thing for WATR or for your green-minded growth this year, come and see this film.  At least 25 students from Swain High should attend, and they should be bring their parents.  Friends should bring friends.  WATR’s contacts in the world of building and excavating are especially invited.  If you can help to usher or staff the WATR table — call the office.Green Fire Poster

Roger Clapp

Happy New Year to all of WATR’s members and friends

Roger Clapp

Year 2011 ended with an impressive list of accomplishments, to be summarized elsewhere.
Now I would like to go over our intentions and our plans for the coming year.  With challenging economic times, it is more important than ever that we get volunteer effort and donor assistance in order to accomplish our goals.  Naturally, you and all our green friends want to know  what we will get done in the coming year and how to get involved.
In December, the board and I addressed leadership needs and started upgrading  our financial procedures for more transparent accountability.
Craig Green, our president, will rotate off the board.  Tim Cochran, owner of a Swain excavating company, will move to our Advisory Board.
Three new faces will join us, each with essential skills needed by our association.  Bill Lee – former newspaper reporter (and much more) will oversee and assist with our communications.   Julie Thorner, owner of WillowWorks in Bryson City, is a marketing professional, and she will direct our efforts in publicity.  TJ Walker, one of the founding members of WATR and owner of the Dillsboro Inn, will help coordinate our efforts at the Scotts Creek Stream-Buffer Demonstration Trails with the Aldermen and merchants in Dillsboro – his efforts will help as the Demo Trails serve as the focal point for a larger outreach initiative.  We continue to look for financial expertise in the form of a Treasurer for 2012.
With this new talent in mind, I am developing the WATR Annual Work Plan for 2012 with board and volunteer input.
The key event will be the January WATR Public Meeting where members can meet the new board nominees and the ongoing board members, and hear about 2012 programs and tasks.  The board and I will describe the programs, ongoing and applied-for grant projects, and member-supported projects.   Projects include monitoring, reporting mud sources and following up, and much more.
There are also event projects – like outreach at Sylva’s Greening Up the Mountains, Swain’s Freedom Fest, our WATR Summer Picnic, and Fall Dinner.   To the best of our abilities we will spell out the projects – show how they fit into our mission – and show where you can make a difference.  We will have actual lists of tasks – small and large – critical to meeting our objectives for 2012.
We have an outreach project supported by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation that will be wrapping up this spring, plus a new project “River Cane education and mapping.” That was launched in November and that will wrap up in September.   Opportunities for your involvement!
Work on the Scotts Creek Stream Buffer Demonstration Trails in Monteith Farmstead Park will continue.  Because our first grant expires in early January, we are currently composing a follow-on grant application to the NC Conservation Fund.  Although the extent of efforts will be determined by funding, WATR staff and our MFP group are committed to making our demo trails an effective backdrop for experiential environmental education in our wonderful watershed.  We want to show western North Carolinians and landowners, in particular, the importance of good riparian zone stewardship.
So come join us on January 23, 2012 at 5:30 socialize or 6:00 (start of the meeting) at the Sylva Town Hall for our January Public Meeting.  Be prepared to hear all the ways you and other green-minded friends can join in and protect our magnificent mountain water resources.
Right-now Job! If you can help supply refreshments, the meeting will be jollier, more fun, and – maybe – more productive.  Call the office.
— Roger Clapp

Confluences — Part 1

Coal barge at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers

'Lighthouse' at the point

I am standing on the southern-most point of Illinois looking out over the churning water that marks the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
Native Americans, whose villages and mounds dotted the banks of the rivers, came to the point to camp, fish and fight, say the archeologists.
Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery camped here for a few days before heading up the Mississippi to St. Louis and the Missouri River and west. One of the men caught a 180-pound catfish here.
Fort Defiance was built at the point during the Civil War. It was a strategic supply and training base for union soldiers and was commanded by Gen. Ulysses Grant.
I think about why I’m here.
We in WATR know the course of our Tuckasegee’s waters – into the Little Tennessee, into the Tennessee, into the Ohio, into the Mississippi, into the Gulf of Mexico. Many of our neighbors forget that our river’s water travels northward before turning south to skirt Ohio and Illinois.
I have decided to visit each of these points of confluence and see what there is to see. It’s as good a reason for travel as any, and I can look for other opportunities for adventure along the way. I don’t think many people do this, however. There are no signs that point to this confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi. But there are signs to Fort Defiance State Park, and those I followed.
I came across an information kiosk, got out and read it and looked down an unmarked road that turned into a grove of trees. Could this be the way? I looked around and saw a human figure watching me from a hundred or so yards away. It made me a little uneasy. Was I not supposed to be here? I drove  down the little road anyway, came to a sandy parking lot and saw a two-story observation tower  (aha!) and got out to walk.
Now I’m at the point, an arc that when bisected divides the Ohio River shore from the Mississippi shore. Looking up the Ohio, I can see a parked barge and the bridge from Illinois to Kentucky. Up the Mississippi, I see another barge close to the bank  and two men working on it. Out in the intersection of the rivers a long coal barge has turned left from the Mississippi and into the Ohio, and then it stops. Has it taken a wrong turn? Or maybe it has run up against a feisty little current  of our Tuckasegee water.
Beyond the barge, the Mississippi flows on. At any confluence, streams clash. In this case, even though it seems wider here, the Ohio loses out in name and gives up its water to the Mighty Mississippi.
After an hour or so, I head back to the car and drive back up through the trees. That man is still looking my way! So I drive over there, and see that it’s a statue with binoculars in hand and leaning as if he is gazing downriver. It’s on no pedestal – built on a ground-level pad – and there’s no name carved into the concrete. But I know that face. It’s Grant.
Must have known I was a Lee.

— By Bill Lee

Next: The Tennessee and the Ohio.

Green Friends

Green Friends
Many WATR members support other local and state groups who strive to protect our environment and promote social justice.  Please give careful consideration of the following issues and responses and to the organizations that are pushing for reforms.
Duke Energy has an approved rate increase of 4.6% to cover increased fuel cost. Now they are looking for a 17% increase for residential rate payers.  With added taxes, we compute the combined increase to be 24%.  Because the sole strategy of Duke Energy seems to be more coal burning and nominal changes for man-made gobal warming, many folks are fighing this latest rate change.
The most accessible place for public comment is a meeting in Franklin on 10/26. Check out this website
     Want Duke’s point of view?  Check out:

For protection of our air, check out the Canary Coalition. Follow this link:
For environmental protection in the western part of the state, check out WNCA  
For a variety of local and regional issues–  especially those affecting Jackson County —  contact Ken Brown, Chair of the Tuckasegee Community Alliance (TCA) a local chapter of the WNCA . Ken’s email address is: