CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Duke Energy is again offering grants through the Habitat Enhancement Program (HEP) to qualifying government agencies and nonprofit organizations that want to enhance, create and protect fish and wildlife habitats along the Catawba-Wateree River and its tributaries in North Carolina and South Carolina.
HEP is a cooperative effort by Duke Energy, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR).
The program is funded annually from a fee charged to individuals and residential marina developers seeking permits to build piers on the Catawba-Wateree lakes. The Foundation for the Carolinas administers the funds.
"This is the first program of its type for Duke Energy and is part of the company's relicensing efforts for the 11 lakes and 13 hydroelectric power plants located along the Catawba-Wateree River," said Joe Hall, Duke Energy Lake Service's director.
Those interested in seeking funds from the HEP are encouraged to complete an application found at http://www.duke-energy.com/lakes/habitat-enhancement-program.asp and submit it for consideration before July 31, 2013, for this year's round.
Projects eligible for funding include a wide range of categories -- from planting native shoreline vegetation, the construction of osprey platforms and wood duck boxes, and the installation of fish attractors, to the purchase of property and conservation easements along the Catawba-Wateree River that permanently preserve rare and unique habitats.
Nearly $112,000 was awarded in 2012 for projects ranging from construction of osprey nesting platforms to creation of large underwater reefs for fish habitat. Since 2007, about $1.1 million has been approved in the Carolinas for funding habitat enhancement projects. A panel of scientists along with several private citizens will select projects that will receive funding in 2013.
"Projects funded by the HEP will help diversify fish and wildlife habitats along the lakes and river, where piers and riprap have become the primary habitat type in some areas," said Dick Christie, SCDNR fishery biologist.
"With efforts through the HEP, the potential for sustaining diversity in our fish and wildlife populations along this river system will continue, thanks to those dedicated groups that apply for and use these funds to their greatest potential," added Tim Gestwicki, executive director, North Carolina Wildlife Federation.
Duke Energy is the largest electric power holding company in the United States with more than $110 billion in total assets. Its regulated utility operations serve approximately 7.2 million electric customers located in six states in the Southeast and Midwest. Its commercial power and international business segments own and operate diverse power generation assets in North America and Latin America, including a growing portfolio of renewable energy assets in the United States.
Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 250 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available at: www.duke-energy.com.