Upper Neuse effort receives $1.7 million

Conservation Trust for North Carolina has received a $1.7 million grant as facilitator of a collaborative effort to conserve lands that help protect drinking-water supplies in the Upper Neuse basin.

In landing the $1.7 million challenge grant from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, the trust more than met the challenge with a $1.5 million grant from the city of Raleigh.

The funds will be used to protect or establish “working forests” that will preserve the quality of drinking supplies in the basin, including groundwater, streams and nine reservoirs, including Falls Lake, Lake Michie and Lake Holt.

The collaborative, will work with owners of forest land on a voluntary basis so they can manage the land to produce timber and generate revenue while using best practices to protect wildlife and runoff, says Lisa Creasman, conservation project manager for the Conservation Trust.

To help do that, the collaborative is developing a geographic-information-system map to identify critical areas where it can work with landowners to establish sustainable forest practices.

Some funds from the grant will be used to pay consultants to work with landowners to adopt best practices for managing forest land.

Funds also will be used to pay for appraisals and closing and other transaction costs for landowners who voluntarily agree to place conservation easements on their property.

“In the Upper Neuse River Basin, development is going to occur, and people will continue to move into the area,” Creasman says. “If we can maintain some of those areas in forests, that helps protect the area’s drinking supplies.”

Partners in the Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative include the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, Eno River Association, Triangle Land Conservancy and Tar River Land Conservancy,

They have protected over 46 miles of stream buffers and 4,475 acres, with funding support from the city of Raleigh, N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund; Wake, Durham and Orange counties; and other government funding partners.

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