It’s law: you can’t just cut down waterfront trees

This week, the Town of Washington Park, just east of Washington, reported to North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office that an unknown person(s) had cut down at least 17 young trees along the shoreline of the town’s park on the Pamlico River.

“The riparian buffers within the Tar-Pamlico watershed are protected — you can’t cut trees and vegetation in the buffers. Maintaining the buffers for not only sediment and erosion control but also water quality and mitigating flooding is crucial,” said Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper Jill Howell. “We know you like the views of the river — we do too. But in order to protect this resource we all love, we need to protect our riparian buffers.”

Trees and other vegetation within 30 feet of waterways work to stabilize the shoreline, prevent erosion, soak up stormwater and absorb nutrients we don’t want in our waterways. In this case, a Notice of Violation will likely be issued to the Town, and possibly a fine, for violating the state’s riparian buffer rule — even though the Town had nothing to do with the act.

Before you (or your neighbors) cut down any vegetation near a waterway, contact NCDEQ.