Don’t Drain North Carolina’s Bay Tree Lake

Target: North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory

Goal: To prevent the draining of Bay Tree Lake.

The destruction of any ecosystem is not only tragic but environmentally dangerous. Unfortunately, it still happens far too often. Such is the case with Bay Tree Lake. This once scenic and beautiful lake is located near Elizabethtown in Bladen County, North Carolina. What was once a thriving example of natural beauty is now dying. It is at considerable risk to eventually devolve into 1,400 acres of uninhabitable muddy slop.

The cause for this stems from drainage ditches dug by developers in an effort to artificially maintain low lake levels. This atrophied water level was desired so that they would be able to build upon adjoining wetlands and sell the land as residential property. This is not only destroying valuable wetlands, but is also proving to have a secondary effect of draining a state lake. Civilian efforts to protect the lake, such as erecting a dam on one of the ditches where it cut through an ecologically-minded resident’s property, have been thwarted. In response to the lake once more maintaining its water level developers reported the dam to the Army Corps. of Engineers who then forced its removal.

Citing a lack of proper permit as reason for the dam’s removal feels like a hollow excuse when it was erected to counteract the series of drainage ditches that were also created without the developers obtaining any form of legal permit. It is disheartening that the will of citizens in and around the region have shown a determination to protect and preserve the lake, yet they are legally thwarted by a system that appears to favor environmental destruction over ecological preservation. It is critical that these developers are not allowed to succeed and destroy a lake whose very existence creates the property value for the lots they continue to build upon.


Dear Governor McCrory,

While it is always tragic to see a natural environment being harmed in any way, sometimes the means with which it is conducted can be particularly despicable. The harm befalling Bay Tree Lake falls squarely within this category as unscrupulous development efforts could bring about the complete disappearance of this lake within just a few short years. Already much of the vegetation such as the area’s bald cypress trees are dying off. What was once 1,400 acres of pristine lake might just find itself a lifeless mud hole devoid of any real resemblance to the term “lake”.

The cause for this lake’s rapid destruction comes in the guise of property developers. Looking to capitalize on highly lucrative property in the region, an array of ditches were dug to drain water out of the lake, keeping its water level artificially lowered. The resulting drainage allowed development efforts to begin on adjacent wetlands (destroying that habitat in the process) while at the same time causing tremendous harm to the lake itself. Unfortunately the efforts of concerned citizens went for naught as the Army Corps of Engineers forced the removal of a dam erected to help protect the lake.

It is both ironic and tragic that the technicality used to force the dam’s removal was that it lacked a proper permit given that the ditches themselves have never received any legal permit to be constructed either. It makes little sense that they be allowed to remain in light of their illicit creation. It is because of this that I urge you to do the right thing and fill in these drainage ditches and allow Bay Tree Lake to continue on unaltered and healthy.


[Your Name Here]

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  1. Bay Tree Lake is such a beautiful natural resource! We have seen bald eagles, bears, beaver, deer, snakes, turtles and lots of other wildlife here! The ancient cypress tress are beautiful! No one should be able to manipulate the level of a state lake!

  2. if the lake have not been drained years ago boon dry the lake would not be what it is today. draining will make improvement. i have been all over lake in a vw.the lake today is due to drainige over 50 years ago.

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