Special Reports

Golf course goofs take extra green

Golf courses, such as a successful project at the Hillandale course in Durham, are prime candidates for stream restoration to offset development elsewhere.

They are open spaces that use a lot of fertilizer, a pollutant that helps produce harmful algae in streams and lakes. Restoring streams there also offers the benefit of flood control.

But are they ideal for restorations? Some state projects suggest otherwise:

High Vista Country Club: A 2002 restoration of County Line Creek in Transylvania County later needed $191,000 in repairs after a new pond changed the creek's water flow. That's more than half the project's original $350,000 cost. The state also paid $13,000 to replant a buffer that had been mowed.

Wake Forest Country Club: A restoration of Horse Creek, which ran through the property of the now-closed country club, suffered numerous delays that added $100,000 to the cost, which totaled $938,000. Records show that the contractor didn't follow the design and that greenskeepers mowed the floodplain. State officials say the restoration is a failure. It is awaiting another $52,600 in repairs.

Prestonwood Golf Course: The state has spent more than $700,000 to restore a stream running through this Cary golf course. The buffer was mowed, and rocks put into the stream to control the flow were improperly placed, causing erosion. State officials say part of the site is unfixable; they are spending an additional $32,000 to replant buffers.

Heritage Golf Course: The state restored Smith and Austin creeks in Wake Forest at a cost of $1.2 million. But stormwater routed by the surrounding development overwhelmed the site, filling parts of the creeks with sand. State officials call the restoration a success because it is trapping the sediment and not sending it downstream.