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Protect and enhance the long-term environmental health and natural beauty of Lake James and its watershed
Donate to LJEA
Board Members
Todd Bell (P)
Jeff Noble (VP)
Tracy Childers (S)
Bob Brendle (Tr) 
William Bell
Tom Christ
Lauren Church
Jim Darsie
Mike Hunsucker
Vicki McQuade
Jack Raker
Keith Smith
Marshall Taylor
Maggie Vaughn
Chip Whitfield
Nora Coffey (ex officio)
Judy Francis (ex officio)
George Johnson (ex officio)
John Zimmerman (ex officio)
Upper Catawba River Basin Planning Grant

LJEA is pleased to announce that Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the NC Land and Water Fund for work to be done specifically in the upper basin above Lookout Shoals Dam. LJEA has partnered with CRF to identify projects in the Lake James watershed, and we look forward to working closely with them to achieve our common goals!
The Lake James Cleanup held on October 3rd was a huge success! Over 70 volunteers cleaned up 1600 lbs of trash from the watershed! Thank you again to all the volunteers and to Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation for organizing Catawba Riversweep and providing supplies! 
Free Pesticide
Collection Day

Wednesday, Dec. 9th 10AM-2PM

McDowell County Trash/Recycling Convenience Center
3809 NC-226, Marion, NC 28752.

Read more here.
We'd like to the thank the following volunteers for collecting water samples and additional data every other month in the summer from Lake James: 

Ron and Bonnie Shuping 

And thank you to our Board Member Bob Brendle, who is a sampler, trains volunteers, co-chairs the Citizen Science Committee, and so much more. Thank you, Bob!

Bob Brendle training a volunteer on sampling protocols

These volunteers and others contribute their time and money to help LJEA gather the data which informs our work. We are so grateful for their assistance!
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(828) 475-2735

Lake James Environmental Association


Fall 2020


LJEA Sponsors Wetland Inventory and Research

LJEA is sponsoring an inventory and subsequent research into wetlands in the Lake James watershed. The study will be conducted by the Department of Natural Science at Montreat College and will kick off in January under the supervision of Professor Joshua Holbrook. There will be opportunities for LJEA volunteers to assist. 

Wetlands in our area, including mountain “bogs” and “seeps,” are relatively rare but very important to sustaining wildlife and biodiversity and to maintaining good water quality in our streams and lakes. Despite their immense importance, they are often overlooked due to their small size in comparison to other freshwater systems. Wetlands are relatively rare in western North Carolina due to our topography, but they exist along the margins of lakes and rivers and in depression areas in our mountains and foothills. In western North Carolina, they may be inhabited by rare or endangered species (e.g. four-toed salamanders (Hemidactylum scutatum), bog turtles (Glyptemys muhlenbergii), Pitcher Plants (Saracenia sp.).

The first steps in the LJEA-Montreat College collaboration will be to inventory the wetland resources of the Lake James basin and describe their physical characteristics. We will start by using GIS and database resources and solicitation of stakeholder reports, as well as on-the-ground searches for wetlands. Also, LJEA members and volunteers will be asked to help identify potential wetlands on or near their homes and places of work. Once identified, the Montreat team will describe the dominant vegetation (E.g. herbaceous marsh, woody swamp), environmental variables (dissolved oxygen, pH, oxidation/reduction potential, water temperature), and physiographic variables (size, depth of organic substrate, wetland type such as floodplain, depressional, littoral, etc.) They also will compile these wetland locations and descriptions into a GIS-based map. 
Benefits of the first phase of the study (the inventory) include providing an increased knowledge of the water resources of the Lake James basin and facilitating future studies of the biotic variables of these wetlands – inventory and study of amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates, and fish that inhabit these wetlands.

The effort will get underway in January and you will have the opportunity to learn more in our next newsletter.  LJEA offers our sincere appreciation to Montreat College for joining the coalition of universities and colleges that are helping LJEA to fulfill its mission to protect and enhance the long-term environmental health and natural beauty of Lake James and its watershed.
Erosion on the Joseph McDowell Greenway

Last year, a group of Lake James Environmental Association members paddled the Catawba River from Old Fort to Marion. One of the major observations of that trip was that some of the most severe erosion on the river above the lake is occurring around and beside the Joseph McDowell Greenway. Since the group’s trip down the river, several major storms have damaged the greenway significantly and accelerated this erosion.

Back in August, a few members of LJEA met with the McDowell Trails Association (MTA) and the City of Marion to talk about what can be done to protect the greenway and decrease the amount of sedimentation making its way into the river. Our Citizen Science Team provided drone photography and advice on the type of engineers to engage on the project. Since that July meeting, the MTA has selected an engineering firm to provide a master plan that will be a sustainable solution to the problem. All of this initial work has been funded by the MTA and the City of Marion.

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Drone pictures of some of the erosion damage on the Joseph McDowell Greenway provided by LJEA

Sediment, produced by erosion, is the number one source of pollution in North Carolina waterways. Thirty years ago, the very western end of the lake where the Catawba and North Fork of the Catawba rivers flow into the lake was much more easily navigable than it is today. LJEA bottom mapping studies have shown a steady “filling in” of the lake in this area over the years due to sedimentation. Erosion and sedimentation occur naturally but are often accelerated by human activity and development. LJEA is very interested in what we can do to protect not only the lake but the entire Lake James watershed from the effects of erosion and sedimentation.

Lake James Environmental Association will continue to work with the McDowell Trails Association and the City of Marion on this very important project. The engineering study is the first step in finding a sustainable solution. It is anticipated that this effort will take a significant investment of time and money by the City, MTA, and volunteer organizations like LJEA to obtain the appropriate grants and complete the necessary work. 
Strategic Planning Update

This fall, the Strategy Committee has been hard at work on strategic planning. LJEA has updated our Mission, Vision, and Values (see below) and you can view our Organization Statement here. In addition, we have also completed a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis. Our next step is to discuss the approximately 25 organizations in our watershed that we collaborate with. Once that is complete, we will begin to set goals for our operations and the various committees we have, or decide to add during the process. The last step is to decide what "work" needs to be done to accomplish those goals. For each project we decide to take on, we will set a priority, a timetable, and a person responsible for driving the project. 
Our Mission
To protect and enhance the long-term environmental health and natural beauty of Lake James and its watershed

Our Vision
To build a collaborative community that understands, appreciates, and protects Lake James and its watershed

Our Values
We advocate for the preservation of the exceptional beauty and clean water of the Lake James Watershed.

Community Benefit 
We believe that all people should be able to enjoy the healthy environment, clean water, and exceptional natural beauty of the Lake James watershed. 

Science Driven
We will foster the development of citizen scientists and commit to decisions and actions grounded in science. 

We commit to educating and engaging people of all ages in order to inspire stewardship of the environment today and in the future.

We value collaboration with diverse communities, schools, governments, private enterprise, non-profits, and others.
Copyright © 2020 Lake James Environmental Association, All rights reserved.

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