Peter Bates, associate professor of natural resource conservation and management at Western Carolina University (second from left), accepts congratulations from officials after receiving special recognition for the service he has provided in conducting inventories of forest resources located in area municipal watersheds. Congratulating Bates are (from left) Paul Carlson, executive director of the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee; Wendy Ford, dean of WCU’s College of Arts and Sciences; and Bill Gibson, executive director of the Southwestern Commission regional council of governments.
A Western Carolina University faculty member was honored Tuesday (Dec. 4) for assistance he has provided to Western North Carolina municipal leaders as they deliberated the long-term management of their towns’ watersheds.
Peter Bates, associate professor of natural resource conservation and management, and his students conducted inventories of forest resources in WNC watersheds to help officials determine if forest management activities within the watersheds could be ecologically and economically viable.
Bates received the recognition at a ceremony celebrating the permanent conservation of the town of Sylva’s 1,088-acre Fisher Creek watershed, also known as Pinnacle Park. The gathering was attended by state legislators and officials representing Sylva, the Southwestern Commission regional council of governments, the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee and the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund.
Acquired by Sylva in the 1920s and no longer used as the town’s source of water, the Fisher Creek watershed is being preserved through a conservation easement conveyed by the town to the state. In return, the town will receive a $3.5 million grant from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund.
Bates, with the assistance of his students, has conducted timber inventories in the Fisher Creek watershed, in Bryson City’s Lands Creek watershed, which also is no longer used as a water source, and in Waynesville’s still-active Allen’s Creek watershed. The combined acreage in those watersheds totals about 10,000 acres.
Paul Carlson, executive director of the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee, said Bates also has been assisting local private landowners who haven’t known where to turn for environmentally sensitive forest management advice.Carlson said Bates “represents the best of the university’s connection to local communities – helping the communities understand better their resources and the conservation of them.”
Bill Gibson, executive director of the Southwestern Commission, said the commission’s board and the board representing the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee have approved a letter commending Bates’ work that will be sent to WCU Chancellor John W. Bardo.
Bates told the officials at the Sylva ceremony that he and his students “are proud to have an opportunity to partner with the municipalities and others who have assumed the complex, but vitally important, task of protecting these properties in perpetuity.” Bates said his goal is “to provide them with sound and unbiased information to help in that process.”
For more information about WCU’s natural resource conservation and management program,
contact Bates at (828) 227-3914 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Last modified: Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2007