(January 28, 2015) Fourteen water quality projects totaling $299,356 were awarded by the Pigeon River Fund of The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina to environmental groups working in Western North Carolina during its funding cycle in November 2014. The fund was created in 1996 to improve surface water quality, enhance fish and wildlife management habitats, expand public use and access to waterways and increase awareness to help protect these resources.
Since 1996 the Pigeon River Fund has invested more than $5 million to support grant projects addressing water quality in Haywood, Buncombe and Madison counties. The next application deadline for qualifying nonprofits in Haywood, Buncombe and Madison counties is March 16, 2015.
Recent grant recipients are:
Asheville GreenWorks: $25,000 to engage residents from Asheville Public Housing communities in water-quality testing, riparian zone restoration, educational programs and environmental cleanups of nearby waterways, including Reed Creek, Town Branch Creek, Buttermilk Creek, Moore Branch Creek, and the French Broad River.
Environmental Quality Institute: $17,800 to support an AmeriCorps Project Conserve member who will coordinate the Volunteer Water Information Network and Stream Monitoring Information Exchange projects that engage volunteers in monitoring water quality and provide data that assists organizations working on water quality in Buncombe, Madison and Haywood counties.
Haywood Waterways Association:
- $55,000 to continue coordinated community efforts to address water quality issues, implement the Haywood Watershed Action Plan and increase public appreciation of water resources through educational programs and publications.
- $31,000 toward the costs of repairing failing septic systems for low-income homeowners. Projects are identified by the Haywood County Environmental Health Department.
- $17,650 for stream bank stabilization and low-impact development improvements to reduce stormwater runoff problems at East Street Park in Waynesville.
Madison County School System: $20,000 to help mitigate a fuel leak at Brush Creek Elementary School and avoid degrading the water quality of a nearby stream.
- $10,000 toward engineering design and permitting of stream bank improvements, including a boat ramp to improve river access at Redmon Park near Marshall.
- $5,000 to support a Boy Scout project to remove trash and debris from the Baltimore Branch Waterfall in Spring Creek.
RiverLink: $23,978 to purchase canoes, waders and related equipment to facilitate stream cleanup, water quality monitoring and educational programs in the French Broad Watershed.
Southwestern NC Resource Conservation and Development Council:
- $15,460 toward the 2015 Envirothon and Youth Environmental Stewardship Camp programs that engage middle and high school youth from Haywood, Madison and Buncombe counties in hands-on learning about water quality issues.
- $8,468 to support demonstration conservation practices addressing livestock impact on water quality in the Dotson Branch Watershed.
The Conservation Fund: $20,000 toward costs of the 561-acre Sheepback Mountain conservation project to protect the headwaters of Carpenter Branch, a tributary of Jonathan Creek in Maggie Valley.
Town of Black Mountain: $25,000 in matching funds for the Swannanoa River Watershed Restoration Plan. The plan will identify sources of impairment, develop strategies to mitigate the problems and support efforts to secure funding for project implementation to improve water quality within the town.
Trout Unlimited: $25,000 to plan, engineer and permit an Aquatic Organism Passage culvert on Little Creek to enhance trout habitat on one of the remaining native brook trout streams in Madison County.
The Pigeon River Fund was established through an agreement between Progress Energy and the State of North Carolina. The grant program is administered by The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. For information about the Pigeon River Fund, contact Senior Program Officer Tim Richards.