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Text and photos by  Peter Vankevich

Lake Mattamuskeet on the mainland is in terrible shape.

Bald cypress tree seeds at Lake Mattamuskeet.

Virtually all of its subaquatic vegetation has disappeared along with declining water quality and changing lake levels.   This lost vegetation that includes aquatic plants such as wild celery, pond weed, redhead grass and Eurasian milfoil, provides key food resources for migratory waterfowl and other birds as well as habitat for fish, crabs and many aquatic organisms.

Hyde County and other stakeholders have joined together to develop a voluntary watershed restoration plan. A second meeting will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday (Nov. 7) in the Hyde County Government Complex, Swan Quarter.

Lake Mattamuskeet is popular for crabbing. Ryan McCuaig of Ocracoke, caught only a few crabs on his trip across the sound in early August.

The goal of the watershed restoration plan is to provide a blueprint for how to best address water quality and flooding issues that harm the lake’s fish and wildlife and affect nearby landowners.

Community members will hear a draft of the watershed restoration plan goals that were discussed and approved by the plan’s stakeholder group. Group members discuss goals and potential solutions to the lake watershed’s water quality and flooding problems and help develop action items for the plan.

Stakeholders include members of Hyde County’s residential, farming and hospitality communities, as well as Hyde County employees and representatives from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. The North Carolina Coastal Federation is helping develop the plan. An overview of core stakeholders and their responsibilities can be found here.

Other topics include an overview of water quality trends and submerged aquatic vegetation in the lake from Michelle Moorman of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will present on waterfowl trends.

Randall Etheridge, assistant professor in engineering at East Carolina University, will present on the current mapping and survey efforts being conducted at the lake. This mapping effort has helped Etheridge develop a preliminary outline of identified problems and solutions.

Once completed, the plan will explain how the lake should and does function, its current status and health, and will identify management options to address water quality and flooding. Upon approval, it can be used to secure grant funds for implementation.

Any questions can be directed to: Erin Fleckenstein 252 473-1607 or  Updated information about the plan development can be found at: The next scheduled meeting will be Feb. 6, 2018.

Covering 40,000 acres and averaging only two to three feet in-depth, Lake Mattamuskeet is the largest natural lake in North Carolina. 

Map of Lake Mattamuskeet.


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