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New Program Prevents Yard Cleanup to Protect Neuse

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GOLDSBORO — When you buy a home and property, you usually have control over all the land you purchase. But an effort to protect the state's waterways means hundreds of families must keep their hands off their own land.

For Jorene Soose, beautiful weather means working in the yard, but the overgrown stream on her property is protected by the state. The city of Goldsboro used to keep it cut down, but no more, and now, neither can she.

"It looks so bad and they don't keep it clean," Soose says. "They don't keep it cut and I cannot do anything to it whatsoever."

Hundreds of ditches and small streams that flow into the Neuse River basin are protected land. Plants along the water cannot be cut down or fertilized. The protection is being phased in in 10 areas, including Goldsboro, Raleigh and Cary.

Goldsboro Services Director Joseph Sawyer explains. "We have to leave 20 feet of vegetation on either side of the ditches now, and only the blue line ditches that are identified on theU.S. Geological Surveymap are the ditches that are affected by this ruling."

Advocates say the vegetation needs to be consistent, because it soaks up so many nutrients that can cause problems downstream. But, some landowners say this is a private property issue, and if they want to make changes to their land, they should be able to do it.

"It's my land. I pay taxes on it," Soose says. "I don't know why they should have any say over it at all."

Supporters say it could take a few years before the plan shows results. If the plants are left in place, they say water throughout the entire Neuse Basin will ultimately be cleaner for all of us.

To learn more about the exact locations of affected areas, contact your city or county services director.