Bethel group receives grants for conservation

On-going farmland conservation efforts in the rural Haywood County community of Bethel got a boost with a $20,000 grant from the Pigeon River Fund this month.

The Pigeon River Fund awards grants twice a year for projects that improve water quality. Sediment is the top enemy of creeks and rivers in Western North Carolina, and development is a top cause of that sediment. Protecting land in the Bethel river corridor from development was considered a worthy cause by the Pigeon River Fund.

The land conservation grant for Bethel was awarded through the Southwestern N.C. Resource Conservation and Development Council to work with landowners interested in protecting their land from development and preserving it for future generations.

A total of $103,250 was awarded in the recent round of grants.

• $50,000 for Haywood Waterways Association to help fund a study of pollutants affecting the Pigeon River Watershed. The data collected in the study will influence future water quality improvement projects in Haywood County.

• $15,000 to the N.C.S.U. Cooperative Extension Service in Haywood County to conduct a community workshop demonstrating “rain pocket” gardens. Rain pocket gardens are a landscaping technique that reduces storm water runoff.

• $12,000 to Riverlink to support the Adopt-a-Stream program, which includes volunteer trash pick-up, water quality monitoring, and efforts to raise awareness of local water quality issues in Swannanoa, Hominy Creek, Barnardsville and Hot Springs.

• $6,250 for the Ebbs Chapel School Foundation to match a Clean Water Management Trust Fund grant that will protect a Madison County wetland area so it can be used as an environmental education site.

Progress Energy funds the Pigeon River Fund through annual contributions in exchange for its permit to operate a hydropower dam on the Pigeon River near the Tennessee line in Haywood County. The annual contributions are based on a percentage of revenue made off the dam. The fund is managed through the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.

The next round of grant applications for the Pigeon River Fund is due by Sept. 15.

For more information, contact Senior Program Officer Tim Richards at 828.254.4960 or visit

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