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.

PETITION LETTER:

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.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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5 Comments

  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.

  3. Dear Paul Preibisius, I would like to speak to you about getting my story out about the ‘Don’t Drain Bay Tree Lakes’ article that you wrote. I am the marketing manager for the developer. Unfortunately there was a personal tiff between a resident at BTL and the developer. This was at a time of drought here in Eastern NC which led the resident to make up a story about the developer draining the lake. The accusation is ridiculous considering the lake is the biggest asset of the developer. Since this story was written we have received normal or above normal rainfall which in turn has filled the lake to its highest level in years. I have spoken to some of the parties responsible for starting the ‘Drain’ rumor who now admit that their actions were wrong. Unfortunately the damage that the ‘Don’t Drain’ site has had on owners and sellers of property at Bay Tree Lakes is real and is costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost sales. If I can not find a way to have the ‘Don’t Drain’ page removed from forcechange.com I would at least like to find a way to get the truth out on your site even if it is through a paid ad that I could sponsor. I understand that you are not responsible for fact checking the stories that you write, but I am sure if you understood the damage this web page has done to this small community you would be willing to help me get the real facts out to the public. Thank you in advance for your time and concern in this matter.

    Sincerely,

    Jeff Passot

  4. Mr. Jacob Lipman

    I am marketing director for the Bay Tree Lakes community. I have been in touch with the author of http://forcechange.com/67168/dont-drain-north-carolinas-bay-tree-lake/ Paul Preibisius, he informs me that he no longer works as a writer for Forcechange.com so I am trying to reach you with the facts that surround this article. Unfortunately there was a personal tiff between a resident at Bay Tree Lake and the developer. This was at a time of drought here in Eastern NC which led the resident to make up a story about the developer draining the lake. The accusation is ridiculous considering the lake is the biggest asset of the developer. Since this story was written we have received normal or above normal rainfall which in turn has filled the lake to its highest level in years. I have spoken to some of the parties responsible for starting the ‘Drain’ rumor who now admit that their actions were wrong. Unfortunately the damage that the ‘Don’t Drain’ site has had on owners and sellers of property at Bay Tree Lakes is real and is costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost sales. I must find a way to have the ‘Don’t Drain’ page removed from forcechange.com and get the truth out on your site even if it is through a paid ad that I could sponsor. I understand that you are not responsible for fact checking the stories that you publish, but I am sure if you understood the damage this web page has done to this small community you would be willing to help me get the real facts out to the public. Because of the ‘Don’t Drain’ site, local, state and federal agencies have been to Bay Tree Lakes to determine if there was any truth to the developer draining the lake and all found that there was no truth to the accusation. I ask you to remove the link to this article as it can still be found on a Google search for Bay Tree Lakes. If necessary, I will reimburse you for the time it takes to have the link removed. Thank you in advance for your time and concern in this matter.

    Jeff Passot

  5. To anyone interested in acquiring property in beautiful Bay Tree Lakes, have no fear. There is absolutely no truth to the accusation that the developer of Bay Tree Lakes is responsible for draining the lake. This “petition” has no merit whatsoever. Whoever is responsible for initiating this petition from Bay Tree Lakes should identify her or himself as I have to do. I would ask the originators be fair, reasonable, and above all, truthful. Natural causes are the only viable and responsible explanation for the major reason lake levels rise and fall. This is true not just at Bay Tree Lakes but also at nearby White Lake and Lake Waccamaw. As of the end of the summer 2014, Bay Tree Lake is full, as full as I have seen it for all of the past four years I have been a property owner in this wonderful community. But never in the summer months of those past four years have I had any reluctance to take my boat out on the lake for full enjoyment of wake boarding and skiing with family and friends. We swim in the lake at the white sandy beach in front of the community clubhouse. It is not over your head in depth and never has been, but it is perfect for children of all ages to learn to swim and play safely. The water is clean and clear, only tea colored at lower depths due to the dark bottom. I have lived on shores of other lakes and as everyone is aware, lake levels do change with the climate from year to year and season to season. In 1996, when two Hurricanes drenched the area within a short period of time, I understand that many piers and docks at Bay Tree Lakes were covered for days if not weeks with water due to abnormally high lake levels. We have been through a recent serious drought in this area of Eastern North Carolina. Lake levels have been down, for sure, but certainly not due to any action by the developer who would have nothing at all to gain by draining the lake in the first place. To grasp the absurdity of this petition, look at what has happened in recent years to lake levels in California as a result of a long term drought. I hate to surmise that the reason for this really stupid, baseless petition can only be something personal between the developer and a disgruntled property owner for which all other property owners are suffering in the process. This can happen in the best of communities and misunderstandings can occur among good neighbors and good friends. This one makes no sense otherwise. Now the question: why is Forcechange continuing to perpetuate a derogatory, inflammatory, demonstratively negative and totally erroneous petition to the detriment of the property values of all property owners (even the property of those who initiated this complete falsification, assuming they actually own property in Bay Tree Lakes)? Is the answer to initiate a counter petition or to respectively request, on behalf of the vast majority of property owners at Bay Tree Lakes that this complete falsehood be removed? Shame on whoever is responsible for initiating this idiotic and foolish petition. Identify yourself. Show that you are the first signers of your own petition. Bay Tree Lakes is as scenic and beautiful as ever and you can thank the developers for all their work to make it so, not blame them for natural cause and effect. To petition the governor of the great state of North Carolina saying that “what was once a thriving example of natural beauty is now dying” and that “it is at considerable risk to eventually devolve into 1,400 acres of uninhabitable muddy slop” is — to converse in the same vernacular used in the petition — total crap. I’m sorry, you may be my neighbor, but you are just plain wrong.

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