Mattamuskeet Association

The Mattamuskeet Association is a 42,500-acre (approximately 64 square miles) private non-profit association of landowners in Hyde County. Its mission is to provide drainage, flood control, maintained access, and utility conveyance to its members. It has been the focus of wetland and hydrologic restoration efforts for the Federation since 2003.

In 2012, the Federation, Mattamuskeet Association, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and other stakeholders developed a watershed restoration plan for the Association.

Map of Hyde County, N.C. General area of Mattamuskeet Association outlined.
Mattamuskeet Association watershed restoration plan
Mattamuskeet Association watershed restoration plan

The plan provides a long-term management framework for restoring and replicating the natural hydrology of the lands in the Association. It does this by reducing and treating stormwater that was traditionally pumped through canals into Otter Creek, Pamlico Sound, the Intracoastal Waterway, and the Alligator River. These areas of water have experienced water quality impairments since the mid-1980s.

The Plan identifies five objectives that focus on restoring the Mattamuskeet Association’s natural hydrology and reducing water flow directly into the Pamlico Sound. The Plan calls for drainage water redirected to historic flow paths and areas where hydrology has been severely altered. This strategy is aimed at improving the water quality in closed shellfishing waters, improving wetland conditions in the new receiving areas, and maintaining water management capabilities for the Association. The plan also identifies 12 major projects that once complete will restore or enhance nearly 10,500 acres of prior converted wetland.

Plan Implementation Through Restoration

The Federation spearheaded wetland restoration efforts within the association to implement the plan in a phased approach.

The primary goal of these projects is to restore hydrology and habitat on primarily ditched and drained farmland that had been earlier converted to other conservation uses. By recreating historic drainage flow patterns and habitats, water quality in downstream estuaries should be improved. The re-created wetlands retain, filter and provide natural treatment of agricultural runoff from remaining upstream farms. They are also effective at restoring watershed hydrology, trapping sediments, converting nutrients, and reducing flow to downstream coastal waters. Projects that reduce discharges of drainage directly into shellfish waters have been made a priority.

Since the plan was approved, several of the projects have been designed, engineered, and implemented.

An infrared photograph of the eastern portion of the association, is outlined in red. Land showing up as red indicates lower elevation, wetter land, this information coupled with LIDAR data and ground truth survey work indicates a historic slough (or channel) flowing to the northwest. Identifying natural features such as these was key to developing the restoration design for many projects identified within the association.

Wetland Enhancement Project, L1

The restoration design for wetland enhancement project L1 within the association includes recreating historic flow paths and sloughs such as this one completed in early 2020. These sloughs allow water from adjacent farmlands to flow through formerly drained lands. This work restores the hydrology of the forested wetlands as seen in the picture above.

Earthen Core Project, Association Perimeter

Monitoring by NRCS soil scientists and modeling by North Carolina State University researchers indicated that the restoration projects would be further enhanced by creating a mineral soil core around the perimeter of the projects and the association. This core reduces the seepage of water out of the wetlands back into the association’s drainage system. Without it, water would be handled twice. It also helps to limit water seepage from out of the association into the association infrastructure. Modeling indicates that additional coring projects could reduce water management needs by 20%.

  • To date, approximately 2.5 miles of the association’s 12.5-mile northern perimeter have been cored in this way.
  • Funding: N.C. Department of Environmental Quality 319 program and N.C. Attorney General’s Environmental Enhancement Program
  • Completion: 2 miles in 2018, additional 0.5 miles in 2019.

Wetland Enhancement Project, MV 1

  • Acres restored: 1,350 acres
  • Restoration design: Mattamuskeet Management and Consulting
  • Restoration techniques: One pump station was installed to lift water into the restored area. Water levels are managed to improve water quality and facilitate the establishment of Atlantic white-cedar (juniper) and other bottomland hardwood trees.
  • Funding: N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Albemarle Pamlico National Estuary Partnership
  • Completion:  June 2014

Shorebird Project

Conceptual design of wetland restoration for shorebird habitat improvements.