For Immediate Release:
Thursday, October 7, 2021
Nazneen Ahmed (919) 716-0060
(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today announced $350,000 in grants to preserve and enhance the environment in western North Carolina through the Environmental Enhancement Grant (EEG) program. Across the state, Attorney General Stein will award nearly $3 million in grants to 27 grantees.
Awards in western North Carolina include:
RiverLink will receive $150,000 for the Southside Community Stormwater Project. The project will fund a restored wetland and measures to capture and filter polluted stormwater runoff and prevent flooding at the Erskine Apartments, a historically Black neighborhood. Additionally, the project will partner with Green Opportunities to offer green jobs training during construction to community residents through GO Corps, an AmeriCorps program.
“This project will help prevent flooding and improve water quality for local communities,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “It will also create green job opportunities for people in Asheville’s Southside community. I’m pleased to be able to fund RiverLink’s innovative work to improve people’s lives and their communities.”
“The Southside Community Stormwater Project is a rare opportunity to address water quality issues and the needs of an important and historically underserved community,” said Lisa Raleigh, executive director at RiverLink. “With funding from the Attorney General’s Environmental Enhancement Grant Program, RiverLink and our partners will capture and filter runoff and eliminate flooding issues at Erskine Apartments, a public housing community near downtown Asheville. This will also improve water quality in Town Branch, an impaired stream known as Nasty Branch to the Southside Community. This project is a long overdue step towards remediating environmental and social justice issues and we are incredibly grateful for the grant and the lasting positive impact it will have on this vibrant community and the greater watershed.”
McDowell and Rutherford Counties
The Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina will receive $100,000 to help acquire 2,681 acres on Pinnacle Mountain, including areas with public access to a 12-mile segment of North Carolina State Parks’ Wilderness Gateway State Trail.
“Preserving natural areas in North Carolina is essential not just to maintain their extraordinary beauty, but to preserve the animal life that needs them to survive,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “These funds will do just that.”
“Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina’s acquisition of more than 2,600 acres in the Broad River Basin for the Pinnacle Mountains-Wilderness Gateway State Trail project extends a nationally-significant conservation corridor in the South Mountains linking Box Creek Wilderness (a conservation easement held by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) and Bobs Creek State Natural Area (public land owned by NC State Parks) to the Blue Ridge Mountains south of I-40,” said Tom Kenney, Foothills Conservancy’s Land Protection Director. “We greatly appreciate the award from the Department of Justice’s Ecosystem Enhancement Grant program to support this extensive conservation property that will host part of the Wilderness Gateway State Trail in the future.”
The Blue Ridge Resource Conservation and Development Council will receive $100,000 to restore and repair a stream bank along Bledsoe Creek and prevent further sedimentation and erosion. The restoration will help preserve Alleghany County Veterans Park for community recreation and education. Work will include removing non-native species, stabilizing and regrading the shoreline, and planting along the stream bank.
“By repairing this stream bank, the Blue Ridge Resource Conservation and Development Council will help ensure that people can continue to enjoy Alleghany County Veterans Park in the coming years,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “We know all too well after these past two years how important areas of nature are to our well-being. I’m glad this grant will help allow the park to continue to be a source of joy to the people who visit.”
“The Alleghany County Veterans Park (ACVP) is in desperate need of corrective actions to reduce sedimentation from erosion,” said Jonathan Hartsell, Executive Director of the Blue Ridge Resource Conservation and Development Council. “This project will focus on repairing and planting stream banks, improving aquatic and terrestrial habitat, and improving the educational and aesthetic value of the ACVP.”
About the Environmental Enhancement Grant Program
The Environmental Enhancement Grant program began after an agreement between the Attorney General’s Office and Smithfield Foods in 2000. Under that agreement, Smithfield provides $2 million to the state every year to be distributed among environmental projects across North Carolina. Including the 2021 grants, the Attorney General Office’s has awarded nearly $37 million to more than 190 projects in the state.