The nonprofit group Cape Fear River Assembly is launching a series of forums to educate and inspire residents of the Cape Fear River Basin.

The forums, free and open to the public, will address water issues, industry and environmental solutions. A forum will be held in Fayetteville at 4 p.m. Sept. 27 at Fayetteville State University’s Lyons Science Annex at 1200 Murchison Road.

Tom Hoban, executive director of the Cape Fear River Assembly, said the forum is designed to share information and ideas related to the river.

“We want them to learn, but we also want to learn from them,” Hoban said. “We’d like people to learn more about the river, why it’s vital to our lives and vital to our economies, and appreciate how some decisions individuals make can affect the river.”

Hoban said he expects to hear different concerns from each of the three basins that make up the Cape Fear River.

The upper basin, which includes the Triangle area, will likely include concerns about storm water run-off amid new construction and development in that area.

The middle basin, where Fayetteville is located, will probably include concerns about flooding and water supply, since the Public Works Commission draws water from the river, he said.

The bottom basin, which includes Wilmington, will focus on issues related to fisheries and recreation, he said.

“We thought we wanted to gain input from people in all three areas,” Hoban said.

The Cape Fear River Assembly works to mange the Cape Fear River, its tributaries and adjacent land uses. It works to investigate and educate, providing information needed to make the best possible decisions regarding the river and its uses.

The assembly has a 39-member Board of Directors. Members are from the Greensboro and High Point area all the way to Wilmington.

With basins covering 9,000 square miles and encompassing streams in 29 of 100 counties, the Cape Fear River is the state’s largest river system. It is the most industrialized of all of North Carolina’s rivers, Hoban said. It winds for 200 miles through the North Carolina Piedmont, crossing the coastal plain and empties into the Atlantic Ocean near Southport.

The Cape Fear river is the main source of drinking water and industry water. The river is also home to a range of wildlife.

Hoban said the 35 miles between Wilmington and the ocean — called the Cape Fear Estuary — is important for saltwater animals because of its function as a nursery for juvenile fish, crabs and shrimp. Also, the wetlands surrounding the estuary are home to otters, alligators and a host of birds species and bears, Hoban said.

Among the presentations:

• Erin Eldridge, professor of anthropology at Fayetteville State, will provide information on coal ash contamination of drinking water.

• Sustainable Sandhills will highlight local climate resilience efforts.

• The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission will display a variety of posters on its Green Growth Toolbox, state of fisheries and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Several universities, including East Carolina University, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and N.C. State University, will present research on water quality and supply.

Also at the forum, the Cape Fear River Partnership will share its five-year implementation plan.

There will also be information on topics including flooding, storm water, agriculture, wildlife, green growth and Jordan Lake.

Attendees will be encouraged to participate in the Cape Fear River Video Project, which will highlight community insights and reactions to issues confronting the river.

More information on the Cape Fear River Assembly is online at cfra-nc.org.

 

Staff writer Amanda Dolasinski can be reached at adolasinski@fayobserver.com or 486-3528.