RALEIGH, N.C. — When the Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF) board meets Sept. 16 to award grants to local governments, non-profit conservation organizations and state agencies, it will be more than business as usual. The fund will also be celebrating a new name and logo that reflect its nearly 25-year history of preserving North Carolina’s land and water.
The CWMTF is becoming the North Carolina Land and Water Fund (NCLWF). In 2019 the General Assembly voted to rename the Fund because over the years its mission has expanded beyond the original focus on just water quality.
Since its creation in 1996 by the General Assembly, the newly renamed North Carolina Land and Water Fund has conserved well over one-half million acres and protected or restored 3,000 miles of streams and rivers.
“The N.C. Land and Water Fund is critical to protecting and enhancing the health and quality of life for all North Carolinians and conserving the streams and open spaces that draw nearly 50 million visitors each year,” said Susi Hamilton, secretary of the N.C. Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources. “The fund’s work is so important to the long-term economic viability of our beautiful state.”
“If you have hunted, fished, boated, hiked, biked, or visited a State Historic Site or state park, you have likely been on land or water protected by the N.C. Land and Water Fund,” stated Greer Cawood, board chair.
The NCLWF has protected water quality by conserving forested buffers along thousands of miles of streams and rivers. The fund also works closely with North Carolina’s Natural Heritage Program to identify and protect habitat for threatened or endangered plants and animals on lands it protects, including lands managed by the North Carolina Plant Conservation Program.
Over the last 25 years the NCLWF has expanded public access to recreational opportunities, investing $311 million toward conserving 449,000 acres for hunting and fishing on State Game Lands across North Carolina. The fund has also invested $87 million with local governments to create greenways, parks and trails. “These local parks and greenways have been such valuable places of respite and recreation during the last several months when so many other facilities were closed due to COVID-19,” stated Walter Clark, Executive Director of the NCLWF.
The N.C. Land and Water Fund also plays a significant role in preserving state historic and cultural sites. The fund has helped protect 34 sites on 13,547 acres with an investment of over $18 million. These sites include Civil War battlefields like the Bentonville Battlefield in Johnston County; the Overmountain Victory Trail, a Revolutionary War trail in western N.C.; and a site in Chowan County believed to be where some members of the Lost Colony may have resettled after leaving Roanoke Island.
In more recent years, the North Carolina General Assembly added to NCLWF’s mission the important task of protecting land and water around the state’s critical military facilities. Conserving these lands creates buffers preventing incompatible development that would impact facility capability. The NCLWF has invested $50 million to conserve nearly 46,000 acres deemed important by the Fund’s military partners. The military sector contributes over 10% to North Carolina’s overall economy.
When the Board of Trustees meets Sept. 16 under its new name, it will consider 144 applications requesting $82 million for projects that, if funded, would conserve more land and water for water quality, recreation, history and culture, rare and endangered plants and animals, and military buffers. The board expects to have approximately $18 million to award. Funding for the NCLWF comes from appropriations from the NC General Assembly.
The board will meet via conference call Sept. 16 at 2:30 p.m. The meeting agenda and information about how to join the meeting can be found at https://cwmtf.nc.gov/meetings.
About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources: The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.
NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit www.ncdcr.gov.