By Beth De Bona
Times-News Staff Writer
Published: Thursday, December 3, 2015 at 12:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 3, 2015 at 9:01 a.m.
Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy has been awarded $100,000 in grant monies from Duke Energy for its Sitton Creek Protection and Restoration project in the Mills River watershed.
CMLC was one of 13 nonprofit organizations in North and South Carolina to receive portions of the $1 million earmarked for 2015 from Duke Energy's Water Resources Fund. The recipients were announced Wednesday by Duke Energy.
“We're excited to receive the Duke Energy grant for our Sitton Creek project,” said Kieran Roe, executive director of CMLC. “The grant will help protect and restore the quality of the Mills River watershed, a source of drinking water serving hundreds of thousands of users in Henderson and Buncombe counties in North Carolina.”
This is the first grant CMLC has received from Duke Energy, which established the fund in September 2014 with eight seed grants; 15 inaugural grants were distributed in March.
CMLC's project is based along the Sitton Creek tributary, located north of the North Mills River. The project is designed to protect water quality and will additionally expand public access to the area by adding 178 acres to Pisgah National Forest.
Roe said the added acreage is a key component to the project, as it will connect an outparcel of forest to the main body of the National Forest.
The project also includes planning for protection of about 150 additional acres, comprising acreage on each side of Sitton Creek that would be placed under conservation easements.
“If everything comes to pass as we hope, then this grant will allow us to protect acreage around Sitton Creek,” said Roe.
Duke Energy has committed to a $10 million, multi-year commitment for its Water Resources Fund. It aims to support nonprofits in their work to “protect and improve the environment, including waterways used year-round across the Carolinas and neighboring states,” according to a news release.
Recipients are selected by an independent body that includes five environmental experts and two Duke Energy employees. Twenty-three projects in the region are already benefiting from the fund.
“Local organizations are vital to protecting waterways across the Carolinas,” said Shawn Heath, vice president of The Duke Energy Foundation and Community Affairs. “Already, we're seeing good things happen due to this fund, including a new nature preserve that recently opened in Wake County and a streambank that was restored in Watauga County. These are projects that will have a lasting impact on the environment for decades to come.”
Reach De Bona at email@example.com or 828-694-7890