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Projects in Macon, Jackson, and Swain awarded part of $14.6 million for outdoor recreation

Grants totaling $14.6 million will fund 39 projects to protect North Carolina’s land and water from the mountains to the coast, Governor Roy Cooper announced today. The North Carolina Land and Water Fund, formerly known as the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, awarded the grants.

“North Carolina is blessed with natural beauty and resources that we all share a duty to protect,” said Governor Cooper. “These grants will fund key projects to safeguard our land and water, provide more opportunities for outdoor recreation, and support our military and economy.”

The funds will protect 6,710 acres including more than 6,155 acres that will be open to the public for hiking, hunting, boating, birding and other recreational uses.

In Macon County, Mainspring Conservation Trust received $329,328 for property acquisition and improvement projects along the Little Tennessee River.

In Jackson County, Mainspring Conservation Trust received  $310,275 for property acquisition for the Pinnacle Park and Plott Balsam Mountain areas.

In Swain County, Mainspring Conservation Trust received $160,859 for an acquisition project along the Elison Tract and Lower Lands.

Funding was also approved for regional projects such as $400,000 for the Western North Carolina Stream Initiative headed up by the Resource Institute.

Funds were also granted for eight projects to restore or enhance over 10 miles of streams, rivers and estuaries. Funds were awarded for five projects designed to evaluate innovative techniques for managing stormwater. In addition, six planning projects were funded to identify key water quality and conservation opportunities in mountain, piedmont, and coastal watersheds. Grants awarded this month will help protect 102 types of rare plants, animals, and natural communities, including 12 plants and animals that are threatened or endangered. More than $10 million of the grants will go to rural and economically distressed counties.

This year’s grants will support North Carolina’s $3.3 billion outdoor recreation economy by:

  • Protecting over 1,900 acres added to Wildlife Resources Commission Game Lands in Ashe, Davidson, and Caldwell counties;
  • Adding 1,126 acres to NC State Parks in McDowell County for the newly created Wilderness Gateway State Trail;
  • Protecting over 1,530 acres added to greenways and local parks in Orange, Hyde, Gaston, Jackson, Macon, and Forsyth counties;
  • Enhancing sport fisheries across the state including trout waters in Madison County, Muskellunge habitat in Henderson County, and saltwater fisheries in Carteret County;
  • Constructing a stormwater project that will protect the Jack Smith Creek Wetlands in the Duffyfields neighborhood of New Bern and help address flooding issues as part of New Bern’s Choice Neighborhood Planning Initiative;
  • Planning efforts to protect unique water resources including Cane Creek downstream of Mount Mitchell State Park, Rocky Branch as it flows through the redeveloped Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh, and the shellfish waters of Stump Sound north of Surf City.

The grants will also provide buffers for military installations and training areas, assisting a sector that makes up over 12% of N.C.’s economy, by protecting 700 acres adjacent to Fort Bragg to prevent incompatible use and additional land under a training flyway in Bladen County.

A complete list of grant awards is available on the NCLWF website at

The board also compiled a list of projects to be provisionally funded if any additional revenue is available from annual license plate sales and returned grants.

About the North Carolina Land and Water Fund

The North Carolina Land and Water Fund, until recently known as the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, was established in 1996 to protect the state’s drinking water sources. Today, with more than $39 million in active contracts, the fund is additionally tasked by the North Carolina General Assembly with conserving and protecting the state’s natural resources, cultural heritage and military installations.

At a meeting of the fund’s board, the state’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund was officially renamed the North Carolina Land and Water Fund. In 2019 the General Assembly voted to rename the fund because over the years its mission has expanded beyond its original focus on just water quality. Since its creation in 1996 by the General Assembly, the newly renamed North Carolina Land and Water Fund has conserved well over one-half million acres and protected or restored 3,000 miles of streams and rivers.

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