By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
If you’ve wondered why construction crews are putting large boulders into the Oconaluftee River, it is all part of the Island Park Restoration Project. The project, which will be done in two parts, has the goal of improving the shoreline of the Oconaluftee River Park to prevent further erosion in that area.
“They’re going to build actual rock veins and weirs in the river to help channel the water flow,” said Damon Lambert, EBCI Building Construction manager, who related that the other part of the project will involve “shoeing” the Island by putting smaller rocks on the banks, doing various landscaping on the Island, installing fencing and other projects.
“The Island gets a lot of use,” he said. “It’s got a lot of erosion. So, we’re trying to fix that, minimize that and make the Island a lot better for visitors and the users.”
Lambert related that the entire project will last until the end of 2015. The cost of the project is $400,000, and it is being funded entirely by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. “Tribal Construction is doing all of the rock placement. W.K. Dickson is the engineering firm for the project, and they’re on-site during the construction.”
Construction is being planned to minimize impact this summer.
“We’re going to work until the 4th of July and shut down the 4th of July weekend so the Island is totally usable,” said Lambert. “We’ll work until the 1st of August and shut down that weekend for the Trout Derby so the Island will be totally usable. We won’t do any of the on-Island work until after the Trout Derby in August. All of the work between now and then will be in-stream work.”