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North Saluda water quality enhancement project underway

(Photo provided.) (Photo provided.)

MARIETTA, S.C. — The first phase of projects to protect water quality on the North Saluda River is underway, according to officials with Save Our Saluda.

Through a $20,000 grant from Michelin and in partnership with Naturaland Trust, TreesGreenville and others, Save Our Saluda will facilitate implementation of the first phase of an agroecosystem management project on the North Saluda River near Marietta to demonstrate best management practices for sustainable agricultural and ecosystem management.

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The practices are designed to help control sediment runoff, stabilize streambanks, restore riparian areas, improve wildlife and pollinator habitat, and ultimately protect downstream water quality, aquatic life, and recreational uses, according to Save our Saluda President Melanie Ruhlman.

“The North Saluda project offers an ideal location for demonstration as it is situated along the future Marietta extension of the Swamp Rabbit Trail," Ruhlman said. "We are very excited to see this project take root and hope it will be a useful example for other similar sites in our watershed.”

The riparian area along Railroad Creek, a tributary to the North Saluda River, will be restored with native woody species. Grassed swales and rock filters will be installed in ditches to help filter sediment from runoff and pollinator strips will be installed along farm fields to increase nectar and pollen sources for pollinator insects throughout the growing season.

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"The North Saluda River is an important source of drinking water but is also one of the cradles of locally-sourced food for the Upstate," said Mac Stone, executive director of Naturaland Trust. "As our region continues to grow, we will need further access to clean water and healthy local food. Through this project, we hope our property will become a benchmark for sustainable agriculture and riparian stewardship for years to come."

The project is part of a cooperative watershed planning effort headed by SOS and funded largely through the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Nonpoint Source Program to address sediment in the North Saluda River and Saluda Lake. The plan will provide a targeted and effective strategy for installing projects to help control and minimize sediment runoff to the North Saluda River downstream to Saluda Lake, a drinking water source for the Easley area.

To learn more about Save Our Saluda, visit the nonprofit organization's website here.

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