Projects to preserve and protect habitat and improve water quality in eastern North Carolina have been awarded a total of $866,591 in grants through the Environmental Enhancement Grant program, Attorney General Josh Stein announced Tuesday.
This year, the program is awarding nearly $3 million to 27 grantees across the state.
The grant program began after an agreement made in 2000 between the North Carolina attorney general’s office and Smithfield Foods, which provides $2 million to the state every year to be distributed among environmental projects across the state. Including this year’s grants, listed below, the attorney general office’s has awarded nearly $37 million to more than 190 projects in the state.
Jacksonville is to receive $175,000 to continue efforts to preserve and protect the New River.
The grant is to help the city expand 12 of the existing New River Estuary Oyster Highway sites, construct 1,850 small patch reefs and add nearly 2.5 million oysters to improve biofiltration.
“The City of Jacksonville is committed to preserving and protecting the New River, a process which began 21 years ago with the close of the City’s Wilson Bay WWTP (waste water treatment plant) and the immediate cleanup efforts utilizing an innovative process called bioremediation,” said Pat Donovan-Brandenburg, stormwater manager for city.
“We continued those efforts three years ago with the “New River Oyster Highway” where we created 12 half-acre artificial reefs or stepping stone habitats for oyster and fish populations in the region between Wilson Bay and Stones Bay within the New River, Donovan-Brandenburg continued. Using funds these funds will enable the city to expand the 12 existing New River Estuary Oyster Highway sites by adding more than 2.48 million oysters and constructing an additional 1,850 or so patch reefs across all sites.
“This grant will help safeguard the New River,” said Stein. “It will help marine life thrive and help improve the quality of water sources.”
New Bern is getting $134,000 to build stormwater infrastructure in an underserved neighborhood that has long been subject to flooding. The grant is a part of the city’s larger resiliency and revitalization project.
“The Attorney General’s Environmental Enhancement Grant Program award supports the city’s overall resiliency initiatives and one of the primary goals of our Resiliency and Hazard Mitigation Plan, to improve conditions for our most underserved and socially vulnerable populations,” said Jeffrey Ruggieri, Development Services Director for New Bern.
“Flooding is the biggest concern and most frequent hazard experienced in the Greater Duffyfield Community. The Stormwater Enhancement Project is a representative mitigation solution to retrofit sustainable practices and nature-based solutions in our older neighborhoods that have been plagued with disinvestment. The project will make the neighborhood safer, improve water quality, and add an amenity for the surrounding residents,” he continued. “EEG funds have been imperative to the city’s broader planning efforts, which encompass a holistic approach toward building the resilience capacity of New Bern and being better prepared for the future.”
Stein said in a statement that New Bern is making smart investments in improving water quality and preventing flooding in historically underserved neighborhoods. “I hope this grant will help improve the quality of life for people in New Bern.”
North Carolina Coastal Land Trust
The North Carolina Coastal Land Trust is receiving $50,000 for the Hoggard’s Millpond Conservation Project, which will help the trust acquire 348 acres of Hoggard’s Millpond Tract and transfer it to the town of Windsor in Bertie County to create a new public park.
“Coastal Land Trust is ever appreciative of this recently approved EEG grant for our Hoggard’s Millpond Conservation Project which represents a unique community conservation partnership to protect a site with significant wildlife, historic, water quality, and recreational resources,” said Janice Allen, director of land protection, adding that the trust’s primary partner, Windsor, is one step closer to having a new nature, historic park for all to enjoy.
“Public parks make our communities stronger and happier,” Stein said. “I’m pleased to distribute these funds to help the town of Windsor create a new public park that the community can enjoy for decades to come.”
Ducks Unlimited is getting $75,000 to restore wetlands within the Goose Creek Game Lands in Pamlico County, a project to increase water exchanges between Smith Creek and its estuary.
“The Environmental Enhancement Grant award serves as a critical funding source in support of our project to enhance 25 acres of tidally-influenced managed wetlands,” said Ducks Unlimited Regional biologist Ethan Massey.
“The grant funds will be leveraged with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) and Ducks Unlimited matching support to complete the project. Wetland restoration projects like these are important to maintain and improve wetland function and water quality in North Carolina,” Massey said, adding that the project will also allow the commission to manage the area more effectively to provide high quality wildlife habitat and public outdoor recreational opportunities.
“Wetlands protect our communities from flooding and enhance water quality,” said Stein. “I’m proud to partner with Ducks Unlimited to preserve this area for more people to enjoy in the future.”
Bertie County Hive House
Bertie County Hive House is receiving $74,350 to improve a 4-acre greenspace in Lewiston Woodville through cleaning, stormwater remediation and planting. The greenspace provides recreational and educational opportunities for the underserved community.
“Public green areas are vital to our community health,” Stein said. “This grant will help create a community space people can visit and enjoy.”
Other EEG awards in eastern North Carolina:
Pollocksville will receive $114,000 to construct publicly accessible wetlands in Riverfront Park to help protect flood-prone properties.
Kinston Cares, a nonprofit organization run by the Center for Community Self-Help, is receiving $95,000 to rehabilitate Federal Emergency Management Agency flood buyout property in east Kinston through research, community planning and environmental education.
East Carolina University will receive $149,241 to identify and evaluate stormwater control measures throughout Greenville. The project will help the city determine which locations are at a higher risk for flooding and poor water quality and take steps to reduce the environmental damage caused by stormwater runoff, especially in underserved communities.