Palmetto Conservation Foundation received a $100,000 grant to protect a picturesque Jocassee Gorges waterway in South Carolina and provide public access via the Palmetto Trail. The grant is part of the Water Resources Fund, a $10 million commitment from Duke Energy.
Palmetto Conservation is one of 14 organizations across North and South Carolina to collectively receive more than $1 million in the fifth grant announcement. The Water Resources Fund is a multi-year commitment that will leave a legacy of improved water quality, quantity and conservation in the Carolinas and neighboring regions.
“This grant will help us protect the Jocassee Gorges environment and better serve our community for years to come,” said PCF Executive Director Natalie Britt. “We thank Duke Energy for its support and are eager to start building the Palmetto Trail along an incredibly beautiful waterway.”
PCF will use the funds to construct a new passage of the Palmetto Trail along Eastatoe Creek near Duke Energy’s Lake Keowee. The four-mile hiking trail in Pickens County will connect Keowee-Toxaway State Park with the Dug Mountain Fishing Access off Roy F. Jones Highway. The lower Eastatoe watershed is part of the internationally recognized Jocassee Gorges Wilderness Area, a pine-hemlock-hardwood forest that provides habitats for a rich diversity of flora and fauna. The watershed supports wild turkey, migratory songbirds, infrequent peregrine falcon and bald eagles, and small and large mammals. The streams are stocked with several trout species, and the banks host diverse salamanders and amphibians. When the Trail is completed, anglers will appreciate improved fishing access along the stream bank and from a new bridge across Eastatoe Creek.
“Duke Energy is closely connected to the rivers and waterways that power our regional economies,” said Cari Boyce, president of the Duke Energy Foundation. “These waterways are valued resources we strive to protect and restore. We look forward to our partnership with Palmetto Conservation and the impact this grant will have on the Palmetto Trail in South Carolina.”
Investment decisions are carefully reviewed by the Water Resources Fund committee. This group is an independent body that includes five environmental experts and two Duke Energy employees. Selected projects are chosen on several criteria, including whether the project is science-based and research-supported.
Duke Energy anticipates two grant announcements per year over the course of the Water Resources Fund. Visit nccommunityfoundation.org for more information on how to apply and register for the session.