Lake Mattamuskeet Watershed Restoration Plan
Lake Mattamuskeet, the largest lake in North Carolina, is a vital part of Hyde County’s amazing natural and cultural heritage. Coastal residents and visitors alike value this national treasure.
However, declining water quality and elevated water levels are threatening the future of this natural wonder. In 2017, Hyde County, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service formed a partnership and contracted the Coastal Federation to develop a watershed restoration plan. This plan aims to address both poor water quality within the Lake as well as chronic and persistent flooding on the surrounding landscape.
The partners embarked on an 18-month planning process that involved stakeholder and public engagement, and on August 7, 2019, the Lake Mattamuskeet Watershed Restoration Plan was officially approved by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality.
The goals of the plan are to:
- Protect the way of life in Hyde County
- Actively manage the lake water level
- Restore water quality and clarity.
Since the plan’s adoption, the partners have transitioned from the development to the implementation phase. In 2020, three grants were awarded from state and national funders to advance the implementation of the Lake Mattamuskeet Watershed Restoration Plan. The grant awards allow the partners to advance several of the priority management actions for the watershed. Throughout 2020 and 2021, the partners hosted a series of public meetings to seek input on different implementation ideas.
In 2022, Hyde County received a direct appropriation from the North Carolina General Assembly, which has allowed stakeholders to identify key projects and prioritize management actions to advance all three of the plan’s goals. This includes: (1) consulting with Geosyntec Consultants to analyze engineering alternatives for active water management in the watershed, and (2) investigating sustainable funding opportunities that manage infrastructure and water levels in Lake Mattamuskeet with the Environmental Finance Center (EFC) at the UNC School of Government.
The EFC’s final report can be found here.
Most recently, the Hyde County Board of Commissioners approved a further allocation of this funding towards Federation staff for the management and oversight of survey and wetland restoration design services for three tracts of land surrounding Lake Mattamuskeet.
The stakeholder team continues meeting on a regular basis and is currently planning for a public open house in the Fall of 2023 to seek community engagement and input. Final reports and project updates are anticipated to be presented during that time, as partners continue moving forward with implementation and towards on-the-ground project construction.