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.

  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 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.


    Jeff Passot

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