The Southern Environmental Law Center has released its 5th annual list of Top 10 Endangered Places in the Southeast, and three places in North Carolina are on the list — Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, Cape Fear Basin and Courthouse Creek.
Plans to widen U.S. 64 would destroy 300 acres of valuable wetlands of Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, a habitat for the last wild population of red wolves, a federally endangered species.
A massive cement plant proposed for a site near Wilmington in the Cape Fear Basin would destroy 1,000 acres of wetlands, add unsafe levels of mercury to local waters and increase air pollution.
A proposed timber sale in the viewshed of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville threatens 472 acres of sensitive forest in Courthouse Creek, a popular recreation destination, trout streams and local tourism.
Waccamaw River in South Carolina also made the list. Two unlined coal ash ponds near Myrtle Beach are contaminating groundwater with arsenic at up to 300 times the sate standard. The ponds flow into the Waccamaw River upstream of drinking water supplies and a national wildlife refuge.
The remaining places on the list include Talladega National Forest in Alabama due to the threat of fracking, Metro Atlanta's threatened water supply, Goforth Creek Canyon in Tennessee due to a proposed highway, mountaintop removal in Virginia and Tennessee mountains, a proposed bypass in Charlottesville, Va., and Southside, Va., due to a push to lift Virginia's longstanding ban on uranium mining.
The top 10 were chosen from hundreds of special places that the SELC defends through its law and policy work in six states — Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.