Animal Habitat And Ancient Treasures In Jeopardy At ENC Lake

By: Natalie Kaplan Email
By: Natalie Kaplan Email

Eastern Carolina is home to one of the largest natural lakes in the state.

Now, some of the ancient treasures and animal habitats at Lake Phelps are in danger.

The treasures are canoes. Some of them in Lake Phelps are thousands of years old. They were originally built by Algonquian Indians.

"When the canoes are submerged in the water they preserve just fine," said Park Superintendent Doug Lequire. "The oldest canoe was 4,400 years old."

Lequire said when the lake water gets low, there is a potential they could be exposed to oxygen and deteriorate.

During the Evans Road Blaze in 2008, park officials say firefighters used about six inches of lake water to put out the flames. That, plus a prolonged drought in the area last year, are to blame for low levels.

Lake Phelps is solely reliant on rain water.

The other problem from the low water involves animal habitats. When the level shrinks, the shorelines do too, and habitats disappear.

For now, Lequire is doing what he can. A few canoes have been placed in a safe house for preservation, but he's looking to someone a bit higher up in rank for another solution.

"Really we just have to wait for Mother Nature to change her mind about things," Lequire said. "I hate to say this -- but a hurricane is the only thing that can turn the situation of Lake Phelps."

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