Photos show evidence of logging at the Bush Creek Marshes Registered Heritage Area near the intersection of Big Woods and Jack Bennett roads in Chatham County. Chatham resident George Pauly first noticed logging at Bush Creek in 2016. Pauly contacted the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources shortly after he spotted a bulldozer clearing the area.
Established in 2014, Bush Creek Marshes RHA is one of many natural heritage areas around Jordan Lake. RHA’s are voluntary agreements between landowners and the Natural Heritage Program that protect outstanding examples of natural diversity occurring in the state.
Click here to see the full amendment to the memorandum of understanding between the state and the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
The Bush Creek area, which spans of 166 acres of forest, open water and marsh, is home to a variety of wildlife — most notably the bald eagle. The federally protected species is known to be present along the forested margin of the protected area.
Photo by Paige Masten/Our Chatham
The agreement clearly states that the natural forest communities should be allowed to mature into old-growth.
So why were these trees cut down?
In an email exchange with Pauly in September of 2016, North Carolina Natural Heritage Program director Misty Buchanan said the “6.8 acre timber harvest as planned is an approved use of the Registered Heritage Area.” Pauly gave Our Chatham access to the emails.
In July of 2017, Pauly contacted Brooke Massa, land conservation biologist for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.