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Pre-restoration photo of Linville River

LINVILLE RIVER RESTORATION PROJECT (LRRP) GILL STATE FOREST

The restoration of the Linville River had its beginnings in 2012 when the NC Forest Service concluded the portion of the river flowing through Gill State Forest could be improved for aquatic habitat and the fishery. Along with the river restoration, an unnamed tributary flowing into the river and on state-owned property was designated for enhancement. In 2013, the agency applied for grants from the N.C. Division of Water Resources and the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. That quest for restoration funding was ongoing until 2016 when all necessary grant funds were secured. The agency then partnered with Resource Institute (RI), a not-for-profit organization based in Winston-Salem, that specializes in stream and river restoration. In partnership with RI and its engineering and restoration contractors, the LRRP environmental permitting started in 2016 with most permit application submittals occurring in 2017. Numerous permits were obtained by federal and state agencies. Environmental permitting was completed in 2019 which led to the scheduling of restoration construction starting in the summer of the same year.

The river reach to be restored is currently degraded due to sedimentation from bank erosion, low quality in-stream habitat due to historical river channelization and over-widening, and poor connectivity to adjacent floodplains. The macrobenthic (aquatic insects) community periodically measured by the NC Division of Water Resources is classified as “Fair”, meaning improvements in the channel design and flow will also improve the stream bottom habitat where the insects spend part of their life cycle. Improving this biotic community would also improve the fishery due to increased food availability. The unnamed tributary needs additional vegetative plantings on its banks.

Once restoration and enhancement construction commence, the work will take 2-3 months to complete, specific to in-channel work and vegetative plantings on both river banks. While this is underway, the river reach will be closed to recreational access for public and worker safety. Look for more progress updates on this project in the coming weeks and months. The Linville River Nursery and Crossnore Mountain Training Facility, also located on the Gill State Forest property, will remain open for business throughout restoration construction.