WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Grant money will help clean up a New Hanover County waterway that has long battled pollution.
The North Carolina Coastal Federation will receive $100,000 to reduce stormwater runoff and restore water quality in the Cape Fear River Basin. The Coastal Federation's goal is to restore shell fishing and recreational uses to Bradley Creek near Wrightsville Beach.
The grant is among $2 million from the Environmental Enhancement Grant to improve water quality, protect North Carolina's waterways and wildlife habitat, and help farmers with environmental management.
This is the tenth in a series to be awarded to environmental projects under a settlement reached in 2000 between the Attorney General's Office and Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork producer. Under the agreement, Smithfield agreed to provide $50 million over 25 years to improve the environment and $15 million to North Carolina State University to fund development of new technologies for processing and treatment of hog waste.
"We're fortunate to be blessed with great natural beauty in North Carolina, and I'm proud to see so many people working on innovative projects to restore and protect our environment," Attorney General Roy Cooper said.
Since the Environmental Enhancement Grant program began, Cooper has awarded more than $19 million to 77 projects. So far, these projects have resulted in the closure of 183 animal waste lagoons with an additional 14 in progress and the restoration or permanent conservation of 19,794 acres of land and wildlife habitat, as well as several environmental education and research initiatives.
"Many North Carolinians rely on the water to make their living while others count on our rivers, lakes and streams for recreation, and we all need a safe supply of water to drink," Cooper said. "These projects will help undo past damage and protect our water for the future."
In addition to the Coastal Federation's grant to help Bradley Creek, the following projects were selected to receive grants this year in keeping with the program’s goal to enhance North Carolina’s environment, particularly the state’s river basins:
The North Carolina Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation will receive a grant of $415,000 to fund two projects. A plan to close inactive hog waste lagoons and ensure proper management of animal waste will get $325,000 in funding, and a plan to help farmers install water storage ponds to reduce pressure on local streams during droughts was awarded $90,000. The Foundation has used previous grants to work with farmers to close 183 hog lagoons.
The Nature Conservancy will get $325,000 to acquire a conservation easement on the 580-acre Troutman Farm in Hoke County. This will permanently protect water quality in the Drowning Creek headwaters of the Lumber River, buffer Fort Bragg Military Reservation land, and protect habitat for at least eight rare or endangered species.
The North Carolina Coastal Land Trust will receive $190,000 to acquire conservation easements and create wooded buffers along Slocum Creek in Havelock. This will protect more than 66 acres of wildlife habitat and park land along roughly one-half mile of Neuse River tributaries, provide a buffer for Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, and create new park lands for residents and visitors to enjoy.
The Blue Ridge Forever coalition, a group of 10 land trusts in western North Carolina, will receive $185,000 to protect water quality and wildlife habitat in Henderson, Mitchell, Macon, Alleghany, Buncombe and Avery counties. The coalition will acquire conservation easements on 224 acres, purchase and permanently preserve 179 acres, and restore a severely degraded stream on an existing conservation easement.
North Carolina State University will receive a $150,000 grant to equip and operate a program to examine air emissions from human sources that ultimately return to surface waters in the form of precipitation. The program will help inform decisions on how to decrease pollution in the Cape Fear, Lumber, Neuse, Tar-Pamlico and White Oak river basins.
Ducks Unlimited will receive $125,000 to restore 593 acres of wetlands on the Butner-Falls of Neuse Game Lands in Wake, Durham and Granville counties. The grant will provide critical wetland habitat for wildlife, protect water quality and provide recreational opportunities to the public.
The Audubon Society of North Carolina will get a $100,000 grant to acquire and permanently protect 1,400 acres of wetlands and the adjacent upland buffer in Warwick Mill Bay on the Lumber River Basin. The project will protect a North Carolina Significant Natural Heritage Area and preserve habitat for a diverse array of plants and animals in Robeson County.
The North Carolina Division of Soil & Water Conservation will be granted $100,000 to help local citizens reduce agricultural and stormwater pollution in the Neuse and Tar Pamlico River Basins.
Additional grants will go to: the Buncombe County Soil & Water Conservation District ($90,000 to purchase 27 acres on the Pisgah Center campus for permanent conservation); The Tar River Land Conservancy ($75,000 to acquire conservation easements protecting 115 acres in Fishing Creek, part of the Tar Pamlico River Basin); The Carolina Land & Lakes Resource Conservation & Development Council ($40,000 to treat stormwater runoff on the Western Piedmont Community College campus and protect the Hunting Creek watershed in central Burke County); The Pamlico Tar River Foundation ($50,000 to improve and protect Holly Creek and surrounding wetlands near the Edgecombe Community College campus);and the Piedmont Conservation Council ($50,000 to design and install a demonstration green roof on the Durham County Agricultural Building).
The Attorney General's Office is currently accepting applications for the next round of Environmental Enhancement Grants. To learn more or apply for a grant, visit www.ncdoj.gov/EEG.aspx.