Duke Energy has approved the funding of seven riparian (streamside) habitat enhancement projects in the watersheds and tailwaters of its Nantahala area hydroelectric projects.
Grant funds total $109,057 and matching and in-kind funds for the projects total $406,873.62.
Duke Energy established the Riparian Habitat Enhancement Fund as a commitment in the Tuckasegee Cooperative Stakeholder Team and Nantahala Cooperative Stakeholder Team Settlement Agreements, which were made during relicensing the company’s Nantahala area hydroelectric projects.
The Riparian Habitat Enhancement Fund was established to protect or enhance fish and wildlife habitat directly or educate school children or landowners about the importance of healthy riparian areas for fish and wildlife habitat. “Riparian” refers to areas along a stream, which are important for stream stability, fish and wildlife habitat, and water quality.
An advisory board, comprised of state and federal resource agencies and county soil and water conservation experts, ranked project proposals based on criteria such as long-term impact, direct benefits to riparian resources, broad support for the project (demonstrated by co-funding), creativity, and the ability to show measurable results. Based on those recommendations, Duke Energy funded seven of the proposed projects.
Brief project descriptions are as follows:
- Killian Farm – Cartoogechaye Creek Restoration: Stream bank and aquatic habitat restoration in Cartoogechaye Creek, a tributary of the Little Tennessee River near Franklin, N.C. Requestor: Land Trust for the Little Tennessee
- Kelly Farm – Savannah Creek Restoration: Stream bank and aquatic habitat restoration in Savannah Creek, a tributary of the Tuckasegee River near Dillsboro, N.C. Requestor: Land Trust for the Little Tennessee
- Riparian Education & Enhancement in the Hiwassee River Watershed: Replanting riparian buffers and educating local school children and landowners on the value of these buffers using a small tributary of the Hiwassee River near Hayesville, N.C. Requestor: Hiwassee Watershed Coalition
- Little Tennessee River Greenway Riparian Restoration & Education: Remove invasive exotic vegetation and plant native trees and shrubs at the confluence of Cartoogechaye Creek and the Little Tennessee River near Franklin, N.C. Requestor: Friends of the Greenway
- Tributary to Hiwassee River Rehabilitation: Reconstruct 1,000 feet of stream bank and enhance riparian buffers on a small tributary of the Hiwassee River near Murphy, N.C. Requestor: United States Forest Service
- Instructional Stream Table: Purchase a stream table to be used in teaching Swain County school children about the value of riparian buffers and stream habitat. Requestor: Swain County Soil and Water Conservation District
- Restoration Tasks in Jackson County: Stream bank reconstruction on a tributary of the Tuckasegee River, Savannah Creek, near Webster, N.C. Requestor: Watershed Association of the Tuckasegee River
Another request for proposals will be issued by the Riparian Habitat Enhancement Fund Advisory Board in early 2014. The application will be posted at http://www.duke-energy.com/lakes/nantahala/hydroelectric-relicensing.asp