BLOWING ROCK — Attorney General Josh Stein 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 program.
In 2022, Attorney General Stein is awarding $2.5 million in EEG grants to 23 recipients.
Included in those grants is $150,000 to The Foothills Conservancy of NC to purchase 342 acres of land near Blowing Rock, including more than 2.5 miles of the Johns River and connecting tributaries.
“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.”
The purchased land will be permanently protected as a Foothills Conservancy preserve.
“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.”
In early November, the Finley Gwyn Harper, Sr. family heirs and C.V. Henkel, Jr. family heirs, including 12 property owners and their families — a number totaling more than 50 family members — have donated their Blowing Rock property, named Cherry Tree Hollow above the Blue Ridge escarpment, to Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina for permanent protection.
Other communities in Western North Carolina were also given grants.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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