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State awards $70.3M for public land, water projects

A young Neuse River waterdog.

Posted on October 3, 2022

More than 100 projects across the state have been awarded grants totaling $70.3 million through the North Carolina Land and Water Fund.

Of the 117 projects to protect land and water, several are in coastal counties and include living shorelines and land conservation.

“Clean water is critical for the health of our families and our economy,” Gov. Roy Cooper said Friday when the grants were announced. “These grants will benefit local communities by enhancing water quality and providing open space for North Carolinians to gather and enjoy the outdoors.”

The money went to 37 projects to restore or enhance more than 36 miles of streams, rivers, lakes and estuaries and to restore over 8,000 acres of drained wetlands, Cooper’s office said.

“The board considered over 145 outstanding applications from our conservation partners for a wide variety of great projects throughout the state,” said John Wilson, chair of the North Carolina Land and Water Fund board.

The North Carolina Coastal Land Trust has been awarded close to $4 million for acquisition projects in Craven, Onslow, Pamlico and Pender counties.

The Nature Conservancy has been awarded $708,170 to restore pocosin in Angola Bay Game Land in Pender County.

New Bern received $150,000 for Duffyfield stormwater enhancement.

Audubon North Carolina received $309,000 for pond and stream restoration at Pine Island in Currituck County and $135,000 for a restoration plan for Battery Island in Brunswick County.

The nonprofit Sound Rivers was awarded $44,500 for a watershed plan at Runyon Creek in Beaufort County.

The North Carolina Coastal Federation, which publishes Coastal Review, received awards for three living shoreline projects: Jockey’s Ridge State Park, $115,835; Core Sound, $750,000; and Marine Corps Air Station New River, $510,000. The Coastal Federation also received $238,945 for a project at Lux Farms in Hyde County, $180,658 for a project in North River Wetlands Reserve, $98,624 for a pervious paver project in Carteret County, and $332,381 to purchase land in Onslow County.

“In addition to protecting water quality, these state investments will increase recreation opportunities, conserve wildlife habitat, preserve historic and cultural sites, and enhance quality of life,” said Reid Wilson, secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Officials said that across the state, this year’s grants will support the $3.3 billion outdoor recreation economy by protecting 10,000 acres to be added to North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission game lands, adding over 5,000 acres to N.C. State Parks, and protecting over 7,000 acres in local parks and preserves and 15 sites with historic and cultural resources.

Conservation projects will benefit 55 endangered or threatened plants and animals, officials said. The Neuse River waterdog, which was added to the federally threatened list in 2021, and Hickory Nut Gorge green salamander, a species first discovered in 2020, are among the species endemic to North Carolina that will benefit.

The full list of awards is available online.


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