Press release from the NC Attorney General’s Office:
Attorney General Josh Stein today announced $311,000 in grants to preserve natural resources and ensure clean air and drinking water in western North Carolina through the Environmental Enhancement Grant (EEG) program. In 2022, Attorney General Stein is awarding $2.5 million in EEG grants to 23 recipients.
Grant recipients in western North Carolina are:
Conservation Trust for North Carolina
The Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC) will receive $40,000 to purchase 68 acres of forestland in southeastern Mitchell County. The land purchase will allow the Conservation Trust to protect the area and maintain its natural habitats, water quality, and scenic views from the Blue Ridge Parkway and Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail.
“Western North Carolina is beautiful,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “I’m pleased that this grant will preserve forests and the resources, habitats, and public enjoyment they bring.”
“Funding awarded by the NC Environmental Enhancement Grants Program is an essential component of CTNC’s pending protection of this unique property,” said Chris Canfield, executive director of CTNC. “We’re thrilled that EEG shares our enthusiasm for conservation of critical habitat, water quality, and Parkway views that the Grassy Creek Springs property offers, as part of CTNC’s ongoing community conservation work in this region.”
Foothills Conservancy of NC, Inc.
The Foothills Conservancy of NC will receive $150,000 to purchase 342 acres of land near Blowing Rock, including more than 2.5 miles of the Johns River and connecting tributaries. The purchased land will eventually be added to the Pisgah National Forest and U.S. public trust lands and managed by the U.S. Forest Service.
“Through this grant, the Foothills Conservancy will preserve natural resources and landmarks significant to our history and beneficial to our future,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “These natural resources will help preserve clean drinking water for years to come.”
“Foothills Conservancy of NC is appreciative of the Attorney General’s office for awarding our land trust a grant through the Environmental Enhancements Grant program for a highly significant land and water conservation project on the escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains that will leave a lasting impact on the Town of Blowing Rock and the Globe community of Caldwell County,” said Andrew Kota, executive director of the Foothills Conservancy of NC. “The EEG grant will help Foothills Conservancy of NC protect a parcel of land that is rich in biodiversity, and that contains the important headwaters of the Johns River – a major tributary of the Catawba River. This project will also preserve significant natural heritage values directly adjoining one of the state’s oldest tourist attractions, the Blowing Rock, and will permanently secure and protect an iconic mountain viewshed enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people annually from US Highway 321 in the Town of Blowing Rock.”
Friends of Panthertown
Friends of Panthertown will receive $35,000 to restore and remediate stream bank and riparian buffer installations along Schoolhouse Falls, Greenland Creek, and Panthertown Creek in Jackson County.
“Restoring the areas that help filter out runoff and protect the quality of drinking water is critical for those who call Jackson County home,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “I’m pleased that this grant will make a difference in the lives of the people of Panthertown.”
“We have seen outdoor recreation in Panthertown explode in the past year, let alone the past five years,” said Kara McMullen, Friends of Panthertown Trails & Stewardship Manager. “With this increase in recreation, we have also seen an increase in human impact in Panthertown. Receiving a North Carolina Environmental Enhancement Grant is so important as we step into this new era of outdoor recreation. Being able to restore the highly impacted areas of Panthertown means that this special place may continue to be enjoyed for generations to come in a more sustainable way than it has been in the past. The projects that will come from being a recipient of this grant will help heal and protect Panthertown’s beauty and sustain its natural resources for years to come.”
North Carolina Arboretum Society
The North Carolina Arboretum Society will receive $50,000 for “Cherokee Long Man: Planting, Educating and Healing the Oconaluftee River.” The project will facilitate river-clean up and the planting of a riparian buffer, celebrate Cherokee cultural heritage, and provide education about the environment and history of the area in collaboration with the Eastern Band of Cherokee.
“This grant will further a partnership between the Arboretum and the Eastern Band of Cherokee,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “They will collaborate to celebrate Cherokee culture and history and to help repair and preserve the Oconaluftee River.”
“As the state’s Arboretum, we’re tasked with serving all North Carolinians with conservation education,” said Jonathan Marchal, the Arboretum’s Director of Education. “We strive to do this with community input to ensure our process serves the purposes of that community. By working with members and staff of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee (EBCI) we have been able to ensure the values of the Cherokee are represented in our programs and that our approach is informed by indigenous knowledge. For the Honoring Long Man Clean-up we’re delighted to work with the EBCI to not only help clean this river but also to educate all citizens about the value of this ecosystem.”
“Ganvhidv Asgaya, ‘Honoring Long Man,’ reminds us that the decisions of the past are impacting the present and shaping our collective future,” said Juanita Wilson, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee and consultant working with the Arboretum. “Long Man (the Oconalouftee River) is still alive, but he is not as deep and wide as he was decades ago. When water stops flowing, it dies. If we lose Long Man, we will not be far behind its demise. His head lies in the mountains and ends with his feet planted solidly in the sea. These grant funds will boost our ability to reach out to our neighbors who live downstream from us. One day, maybe we’ll reach all the way to the Long Man’s feet.”
Burke County Public Schools
Burke County Public Schools (BCPS) will receive $36,000 to create a wetlands area along three BCPS properties that will slow down erosion and the speed of water flow as well as provide environmental educational opportunities for the schools and community.
“I’m pleased to see school systems like Burke County Public Schools focus on educating our students about the environment and innovative approaches to protecting our natural resources,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “I hope this grant helps improve water quality and educate our children for years to come.”
“We are so very grateful for this Environmental Enhancement Grant through the North Carolina Department of Justice to help us continue our quest to help develop the Enola Wetlands and Trail project,” said Burke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Mike Swain. “It has been exciting to watch the project develop over the years and for our students and staff to be involved in it and see it through. We look forward to the opportunity this will provide the community. Not only will Patton be able to reap the benefits and be able to use the area as an outdoor classroom, middle and elementary school students also will be able to learn and use the space. The catch water system that filters water runoff from the Patton football field to ponds and eventually back through to the creek is one example of how this innovative approach to problem solving teaches all of us to be more environmentally responsible. This opportunity is made possible, in part, through grants such as this one.”
About the Environmental Enhancement Grant Program
The North Carolina Department of Justice’s Environmental Enhancement Grant program began after a 2000 agreement between the Attorney General’s Office and Smithfield Foods. Under that agreement, Smithfield provides $2 million to the state every year to be distributed among environmental projects across North Carolina. Including the 2022 grants, the Attorney General Office’s has awarded more than $41 million to more than 210 projects in the state.