Sandy Bottom Preserve is a 10-acre wetland along N.C. 191 in southern Buncombe County under consideration for greater protection by the N.C. Division of Water Resources. (Photo: Courtesy of Amy Boyd)

NC - Sandy Bottom wetlands to receive protection for 'national ecological significance'

Do the thousands of drivers who zip down N.C. 191 through Bent Creek each day know they are passing through one of the rarest habitats in the state, and possibly the country?

Probably not. But the area in southern Buncombe County, just south of the Blue Ridge Parkway along the French Broad River and Brevard Road, known as Sandy Bottom Preserve, is not just a swampy-looking drive-through.

It’s such unique and imperiled wildlife habitat that the N.C. Division of Water Resources is proposing to offer Sandy Bottom greater protection.

The state agency will host a public hearing Jan. 21 at UNC Asheville to accept comments on reclassifying Sandy Bottom wetlands from “freshwater wetland” to “unique wetland,” also known as UWL.

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