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Natural resources grants help NC communities deal with flooding

U.S. National Guard
Areas of eastern North Carolina flooded after Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Recent grants from the state Department of Natural and Cultural Resources will help communities increase their resilience against climate threats. Gov. Roy Cooper's proposed budget out this week seeks even more money for the program in the coming year.

The state's Land & Water Fundrecently announced $15 million in grants for 17 projects around the state as part of a new initiative to reduce flood risk. Among those are:

  • Flood prevention projects in Mecklenburg, Haywood, Henderson, Robeson and Lenoir counties.
  • River and stream restorations in Durham and Newport.
  • An N.C. State University research project at a forest in Onslow County.

"That is a direct response to what we've been seeing because of climate change," Reid Wilson, North Carolina's secretary of Natural and Cultural Resources, told WFAE during a stop in Charlotte on Thursday. "Our department is committed to taking the steps we can to reduce our carbon footprint, and to help build more resilient communities across the state."
The new flood risk reduction program created in last year's state budget addresses issues that are only worsening as climate change brings more intense storms and flooding, he said.

"Our Land & Water Fund helps protect land along streams, helps restore wetlands and stream banks, so that we have intact floodplains, because we have seen devastating floods from hurricanes and just major rain events," Wilson said.

Overall last year, the Land & Water Fund got $24 million in recurring funding. Democratic Gov. Cooper's budget for the new fiscal year would increase that to $30 million, plus an additional one-time allocation of $35 million.

The Republican-led General Assembly will craft and present its own budget in the coming weeks — and it's likely to look significantly different from Cooper's proposal.

See a list of the funded projects on the Land & Water Fund website, https://nclwf.nc.gov/media/456/open

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David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.