SWAN QUARTER — On Aug. 8, the Hyde County community is invited to attend the first of six public meetings to discuss long-term solutions for Lake Mattamuskeet’s watershed, its declining water quality and changing lake levels.

Hyde County, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have come together to support the development of a watershed restoration plan for the lake, which will help protect its natural and cultural heritage.

The Aug. 8 meeting is the first quarterly public meeting being held as part of the plan development. It will start at 7 p.m. in the multipurpose room at the Hyde County Government Complex, located at 30 Oyster Creek Road in Swan Quarter.

“We want to design a voluntary blueprint that helps our county’s residents and landowners take care of the lake watershed and their properties for decades to come,” said Bill Rich, Hyde County manager. “We will identify and then work to carry out cost-effective steps to restore water quality in the lake, and at the same time, reduce flooding problems in the watershed.”

This first public meeting will further explain how the plan will be developed, and then seek public input to help identify issues facing the lake watershed. The project team will also use the meeting to start identifying possible management solutions to address concerns over water levels and declining water quality.

When completed, the watershed management plan will explain how the lake should and does function, as well as its current status and health. It will also identify various practical management options for the lake watershed that will help address water quality and flooding issues. These goals, and the actions necessary to achieve them, will be informed by past and ongoing scientific studies as well as local knowledge and experiences.

The planning process has just begun, and will be completed in the fall of 2018.

To work toward identifying practical and affordable management solutions, the North Carolina Coastal Federation will help the county and its project partners develop the plan. The federation previously worked with Hyde County landowners to develop a watershed restoration plan for about 43,000 acres of farmland and wetlands situated north of Engelhard. That plan has worked well in helping to address both drainage and environmental needs for the property owners.

Additional public meetings for the Lake Mattamuskeet Watershed Restoration Plan will be held at 7 p.m. on the following dates at the Hyde County Government Complex in Swan Quarter:

— Nov. 7, 2017
— Feb. 6, 2018
— May 8, 2018
— July 10, 2018
— Sept. 18, 2018

More information about the plan can be found at nccoast.org/lakemattamuskeet. This web page will be updated regularly as the plan progresses. Interested community members can also leave comments and sign up for a mailing list to receive email updates.

Questions about the watershed restoration plan can be directed to Erin Fleckenstein, coastal scientist for the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s Wanchese office, at 252-473-1607. In the event of severe weather, the meetings will be rescheduled and community members can call that number or check the website for more information.