RALEIGH — A total of $2 million in grants will go to projects intended to conserve waterways, protect wildlife, improve water quality, and develop new conservation and environmental management efforts — including $150,000 in Bladen County — Attorney General Roy Cooper announced Monday.
“Natural wonders from the mountains to the coast are part of North Carolina’s legacy,” Cooper said. “These grants will help preserve our state’s environment for generations to come.”
In Bladen County, the Nature Conservancy will receive $150,000 to purchase and protect 300 acres of land and old-growth cypress swamp forest along the Black River. This project will protect the river, its water quality, swamp forests and aquatic wildlife habitats by preventing development along the river.
The grants are made possible by an agreement signed in 2000 between the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office and Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer. In the agreement, Smithfield committed to provide $50 million to improve North Carolina’s environment. An additional $15 million was provided to North Carolina State University to fund the development of new technologies for processing and treatment of hog waste.
To date, Cooper has awarded more than $27 million to more than 100 recipients through the Environmental Enhancement Grants Program. Funds from the Smithfield Agreement have been used to close 231 animal waste lagoons, restore and protect 23,137 acres of natural areas and wildlife habitat, and support a variety of environmental education and research initiatives.