Fort Mill Times

Applications accepted for Habitat Enhancement Program

Duke Energy is offering grants through the Habitat Enhancement Program to qualifying government agencies and nonprofit organizations that want to enhance, create and protect fish and wildlife habitat along the Catawba-Wateree River and its tributaries in North Carolina and South Carolina.

HEP is a cooperative effort by Duke Energy, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. The program is funded annually from a fee charged to individuals and residential marina developers seeking permits to build piers in the Catawba-Wateree lakes. The Foundation for the Carolinas administers the funds.

“This is the first program of its type for Duke Energy and is part of the company’s relicensing efforts for the 11 lakes and 13 hydroelectric power plants located along the Catawba-Wateree River,” said Joe Hall, Duke Energy Lake Services director.

Applications, due by July 31, are available online at duke-energy.com/lakes/habitat-enhancement-program.asp.

Projects eligible for funding include categories – from planting native shoreline vegetation, the construction of osprey platforms and wood duck boxes, and the installation of fish attractors to the purchase of property and conservation easements along the Catawba-Wateree River that permanently preserve rare and unique habitats.

Nearly $440,000 was awarded in 2011 for projects ranging from land conservation to shoreline habitat and enhancement. Since 2007, about $1 million has been approved in the Carolinas for funding habitat enhancement projects. A panel of scientists along with several residents will select projects that will receive funding in 2012.

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