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Triad, Northwest N.C. qualify for $5.7 million in state land, water grants

Triad, Northwest N.C. qualify for $5.7 million in state land, water grants

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Fourteen land and water projects in the Triad and Northwest North Carolina have been approved by the Cooper administration for a combined $5.67 million in funding.

The funding comes from the N.C. Land and Water Fund, formerly known as the Clean Water Management Trust Fund.

Some of the funding is listed as provisional, becoming available "if any additional revenue is available from annual license plate sales and returned grants."

"North Carolina is blessed with natural beauty and resources that we all share a duty to protect,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement Wednesday.

“These grants will fund key projects to safeguard our land and water, provide more opportunities for outdoor recreation, and support our military and economy.”

One of the two participating projects in Forsyth County was announced separately last week involving Belews Lake.

The other grant provides $400,000 to the town of Kernersville for Phase Two of its Ivey Redmon Park stream-restoration project.

The county plans to pay $640,000 to purchase 216 acres on Belews Lake from Duke Energy for a new county park.

The state Land and Water Fund has provided a $548,032 grant award, along with a provisional $91,968 grant that may take until July 1 to become available.

"We don't really have a facility on a lake like that, and we don't have a significant amount of park resources in the northeastern part of the county," said Damon Sanders-Pratt, an assistant county manager in Forsyth County.

In 2015, an open-space plan identified the Belews Lake area as a potential site for a regional park.

Sanders-Pratt told the county Board of Commissioners on Sept. 17 that the planned park site is clean and has no environmental issues, such as the coal-ash basin that is at the center of controversy at Duke Energy's Belews Creek Steam Station in Stokes County.

In 2018, county officials said the site appeared to be in excellent condition and used as a woodland buffer zone for the Belews Lake watershed.

The land is near the intersection of Belews Creek and Craig roads, with extensive lake frontage. Planted in pines, it would eventually have been clear cut by Duke Energy had the county not expressed interest in the property, county officials said.

Now, the county will look for ways to develop walking trails, picnic areas and other less-intensive park uses. There won't be a boat dock, but a fishing dock is likely, officials said.

Ashe and Guilford counties each received four grants, along with one each for Davidson, Randolph, Watauga and Wilkes counties.

A project in Ashe and Davidson will add acres to the state's Wildlife Resources Commission's game lands.

The governor's office said the funds will protect 6,710 acres, including more than 6,155 acres that will be open to the public for hiking, hunting, boating, birding and other recreational uses.

Funds were also granted for eight projects to restore or enhance over 10 miles of streams, rivers and estuaries, as well as for five projects designed to evaluate innovative techniques for managing stormwater.

Another six planning projects were funded to identify key water-quality and conservation opportunities in mountain, Piedmont and coastal watersheds.

Journal reporter Wesley Young contributed to this article

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