RALEIGH, N.C. – The state’s Land and Water Fund (formerly known as the Clean Water Management Trust Fund) will help conserve lands and protect waterways serving millions of North Carolinians through over $27 million in grants awarded in the 2018 grant year to help fund 66 projects throughout the state.
The funds will be used to preserve more than 23,000 acres, including western waterfalls, maritime forests, historic battlegrounds, greenways and trails. Over 20,000 acres will be open to the public for hiking, birding and other recreational uses. Grants were awarded for projects to restore over 8 miles of the state’s waterways and protect hundreds of species of rare plants and animals.
“The Land and Water Fund plays an important role in protecting water quality, open spaces, and treasured cultural resources for future generations,” said Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “The fund’s mission is vital to the economic sustainability of our state, helping to make North Carolina an attractive place to live, work and visit.”
The total amount includes $3 million in additional funds raised through license plate sales since the initial grants were awarded at the fund’s board meeting in November 2018.
While more than $20 million in grants were awarded in November 2018, many notable projects across the state were left unfunded because grant requests totaling $55 million far exceeded the amount of available funds. In response, the board compiled a list of projects to be provisionally funded with any additional revenue received from annual license plate sales and returned grants.
“It is important that we put every dollar that is entrusted to us to good use,” said board Chair Greer Cawood. “With these additional funds, we protected over 2,700 acres, including additions to two Wildlife Resources Commission Game Lands, one State Forest and vistas of two historic battlefields.”
The additional monies were used to fund projects such as the purchase of 188 acres along Jacob Fork in Catawba County. This property will become a keystone element of a new Wilderness Gateway State Trail. The new trail was authorized by S.L. 2019-20 with the long-term goal of connecting the Town of Valdese, City of Hickory, the Overmountain Victory State Trail, natural areas within Burke and Catawba counties, and other communities and places of interest.
Land and Water Fund Executive Director Walter Clark said, “The funded projects protect irreplaceable resources for the benefit of all North Carolinians.”