North Carolina -- American Rivers will be helping North Carolina move towards a 21st century vision for water management thanks to a 1-year, $83,000 grant provided by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. The grant, which will fund river restoration and water supply work in North Carolina, is designed to improve health, safety, and quality of life in North Carolina’s communities. American Rivers will play a leadership role in North Carolina advancing 21st century solutions to the state’s water supply needs and engaging in on-the-ground river restoration projects.
“North Carolina has a rich river heritage, and rivers are vital to the state’s economy and identity,” said Peter Raabe, North Carolina conservation director at American Rivers. “But the challenges facing the state’s rivers have never been greater. We welcome the opportunity to help the state find lasting solutions so that North Carolinians can enjoy healthy rivers and clean water for generations to come.”
River restoration activities funded by the grant include hiring additional staff to work directly with local communities throughout the state struggling with the future of derelict dams as well as engaging with the state regulators to streamline the restoration process. Water supply work funded by the grant will facilitate our engagement with communities in the Triangle, the Triad, and in metro Charlotte to increase their water supply through more efficient water infrastructure and institute state wide policy that will protect communities’ water supply into the future.
As small communities around the country struggle to gain a foothold in this economy, some southeastern communities recognize the ability of river restoration projects to inject new dollars into local economies. Projects such as these can lead to greater economic stability over the long term by restoring commercial and recreational fishing, improving tourism, and creating new business and recreational opportunities. Community liabilities can be remade into community assets.
“More than 140 dams in North Carolina are outdated or unsafe and are eligible for removal,” said Raabe. “This grant will help American Rivers work with communities around the state to get rid of old, failing infrastructure and reap all of the quality of life and economic benefits a healthy river provides.”
Scientists predict that climate change is bringing longer and more intense droughts to the Southeast U.S. That, along with an increasing population, will place unprecedented strain on the region’s water supplies. By adopting water efficiency, communities can help ensure that they have a clean, sustainable water supply and save water and energy at the same time.
“In this time of economic uncertainty and shrinking budgets, water efficiency is the answer for local leaders who want cost-effective, proven, and immediate water supply solutions,” Raabe said. “American Rivers will step up our efforts in North Carolina to show that water efficiency is the 21st century solution to the state’s water problems and must be the backbone of the region’s water supply strategy.”
The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation was established in 1936 as a memorial to the youngest son of the founder of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. In that year the brother and two sisters of Z. Smith Reynolds, R.J. Reynolds, Jr., Mary Reynolds Babcock, and Nancy Susan Reynolds Bagley, provided that their inheritance from his estate would go to the establishment of a trust for the benefit of the people of North Carolina. In its history, the Foundation, as the beneficiary of the income from the Zachary Smith Reynolds Trust and the W.N. Reynolds Trust, has now made grants totaling more than $442 million to recipients in all of North Carolina’s 100 counties.
American Rivers is the leading organization working to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams. Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Since 1973, American Rivers has fought to preserve these connections, helping protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual release of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 100,000 supporters, members, and volunteers nationwide. Visit www.americanrivers.org, www.facebook.com/americanrivers and www.twitter.com/americanrivers.