Lake Waccamaw residents and officials are trying to save the last remaining wetlands in the cove canal swamp. Riverstone Properties, a Virginia based company, plans to clear cut more than 400 acres of land northwest of Lake Waccamaw. Officials and residents are concerned that doing so would wreak havoc on a very diverse ecosystem. Cove Swamp lies just across from Lake Waccamaw. The fear is that Riverstone Properties could turn the field of tall trees lying along the swamps edge into a valley of stumps and branches caused by clear cutting. Deborah Kelso of the Friends of Lake Waccamaw state park said, “That's a big problem because that sets up non point source pollution. It destroys habitat, and we've got endemic and endangered and threatened species of animals that need protection.” If the trees are cut down it could cause sediment to flow across the cut through and lower the water quality. That in turn could cause the lake to lose its outstanding resource water classification. Lake Waccamaw state parks officials say the land needs to be protected from clear cutting. “In this type of a use, it's an area that needs to be protected for the actual direct impact for the animals that live there, but also the impacts it would have on the lake as a whole.” said Chris Helms, superintendent of Lake Waccamaw state park. If clear cutting like this becomes the fate of Cove Swamp, it could not only damage many animal habitats, but it could also pose a threat to local homes. Frank Gault is a Waccamaw resident. He said “If you cut the trees, they're not there of course, and then you have flooding conditions.” The clean water management trust fund and the nature conservancy came up with 600,000 dollars to buy the land from Riverstone, but Riverstone is asking for nearly 800,000 dollars due to a rise in timber prices. If they are successful in raising the extra 200,000 dollars, officials will make sure to protect the swamp.
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