From kayaks and greenways to high school science labs, Pigeon River Fund doles out grants

Water quality, aquatic habitats and outdoor recreation will see a boost in Haywood County thanks to $132,000 in new grants awarded through the Pigeon River Fund grant cycle for the first half of the year.

The Pigeon River Fund has awarded $4.85 million since 1996. The money comes from Duke Energy in exchange for damming the Pigeon River for hydropower. The grant fund is managed by the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.

A total of $247,092 was awarded in the spring grant cycle for projects in Haywood, Buncombe and Madison counties.

The most recent Haywood recipients are: 

• Conservation Trust for North Carolina - $15,500 to support the acquisition of the 53-acre Pinnacle Ridge Tract and increase landowner outreach to facilitate water quality protection in the headwaters of Richland Creek in Haywood County. 

• Haywood Waterways Association - $2,250 toward materials costs for construction of a river access stairway at the Canton Recreational Park. 

• Haywood County Schools Foundation - $27,700 to support the Haywood Environmental Initiative E-STEM (Environmental Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) project. The grant will provide equipment, training and other resources to establish water quality labs at Pisgah and Tuscola High Schools. The Haywood Environmental Initiative, a collaboration among school staff, local water quality agencies and Western Carolina University, incorporates 21st-century technology to engage student learning about the environment. 

• Western Carolina University - $11,317 for student training and faculty efforts collecting and interpreting water quality data as part of the E-STEM project at Tuscola and Pisgah High Schools. 

• Southwestern N.C. Resource Conservation Development Council - $30,000 for shoreline stabilization and stream bank restoration work for erosion prevention at Lake Junaluska. This work will complete a segment of the Lake Junaluska Greenway and improve water quality by reducing sedimentation. 

• Southwestern N.C. Resource Conservation Development Council - $10,000 to complete a conservation easement on 72 acres of rural land close to the East Fork of the upper Pigeon River Watershed in Haywood County. 

• Southwestern N.C. Resource Conservation Development Council - $10,000 to support a multi-agency effort to develop a conservation easement assessment system to ensure that investments in future easement projects improve water quality. 

• Town of Waynesville Parks and Recreation - $25,000 for kayaks and equipment for the Base Camp Waynesville program, encouraging student and adult access to area waterways and educating visitors about water stewardship.  

Applications for the next round of grants are due Sept. 15. or 828.367.9912.  

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