Thursday, September 23, 2010

Woods' first U.S. course can't bury half-mile of N.C. trout stream

The Cliffs at High Carolina golf course project near Asheville has attracted a lot of attention, party because of its claim to be the first American golf course designed by Tiger Woods. Another is that it's a gorgeous site with stunning views and beautiful mountains.

But the Western North Carolina Alliance and Trout Unlimited were disturbed by one part of the Tiger Woods plan: burying more than a half-mile of headwater trout streams in one of the prettiest locations on Earth. The two groups engaged the Southern Environmental Law Center to challenge the plan to use extensive underground piping to cover up 3,132 linear feet of trout streams. The law center argued that burying that much free-flowing trout stream, when other alternatives are available, violated North Carolina law. The center's aim was not to stop the project, but to preserve as much of the open streams as possible.

Now Kathleen Sullivan of the SELC reports that an agreement signed today nearly halves the amount of trout stream footage to be buried in pipes or other structures, to 1,655 linear feet -- to less than a third of a mile. The agreement also means that the project developers will mitigate twice that amount of footage -- or the equivalent of 3,310 feet of stream footage. The SELC praised the developers of The Cliffs for their willingness to reconsider the loss of the open stream footage. For more on The Cliffs, see

The agreement reinforces state protections for streams, the SELC said, including these factors:

--Streams cannot be buried for a project if those impacts can be avoided through a better design.

-- Unavoidable impacts to quality mountain streams must be mitigated at a 2:1 ratio so that, for every area impacted, twice that area must be rehabilitated or restored elsewhere.

-- Developers must mitigate their impacts to streams by restoring streams. They cannot offset their mitigation burden by seeking credit for streams on their property that were not impacted by their development and are not otherwise at risk of being degraded.

In a news release, SELC senior attorney DJ Gerken said, “North Carolina’s mountain headwaters are so vital to aquatic life and downstream communities that they deserve the full protection of our laws. The redesign of the private golf course under this agreement significantly reduces the impact on our stream headwaters and ensures compensatory restoration to North Carolina for any unavoidable impacts to vital mountain streams.”


Anonymous said...

Wow, way to go Cliffs for being a good corporate citizen!

May many more companies follow suit.

Anonymous said...

Was this length of stream covered to allow for the Waffle House to be built at the 18th hole for Tiger to pick up his "hottie" waitresses?

Bob Caldwell said...

Thank God, but it's still a travesty that any part of a trout stream will be buried. What a sad reflection of our priorities.

Hugh Koontz said...

I'm with you, Bob. A very sad reflection indeed.

Owl Jones said...

Way to go? I think NOT. I mean, look - I'm no enviro-whacko and even I think putting a headwater into pipes is a bad idea. If they really wanted to set an example to follow they'd be good stewards of that land and allow the trout stream to remain undisturbed - build the *($&# golf course around it, protect it, make it part of the "magic" of that course. I thought golfers were supposed to be outdoorsmen, too. My bad.