Under the Dome

Conservation efforts boosted by hog waste agreement funds

A worker at the NCSU Waste Management labs in Raleigh does maintenance work on a flash dehydrator, which is used to quick-dry animal waste.
A worker at the NCSU Waste Management labs in Raleigh does maintenance work on a flash dehydrator, which is used to quick-dry animal waste. Chris Seward

Grants totaling $2 million will pay for environmental improvements around the state this year, under a 16-year-old agreement with Smithfield Foods to compensate for hog waste pollution.

The annual grants come from a $65 million agreement with the world’s largest hog producing and pork processing company and its subsidiaries struck by then-Attorney General Mike Easley in 2000. N.C. State University received $15 million of that to develop new ways of hog waste disposal. The rest of the money is being paid out over 25 years for environmental projects.

So far more than $27 million has been granted to over 100 recipients. Some of the money has been used to close more than 200 animal waste lagoons, and to restore and protect more than 23,000 acres of natural areas and wildlife habitat.

Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office announced the current projects, including two in the Triangle:

▪ A failing earthen dam will be removed in order to stabilize a stream bank and restore vegetation on Smith Creek in order to improve water quality and aquatic habitat in the Neuse River Basin. The Town of Wake Forest will receive $193,650 for that project.

▪ Farmers will use data developed by N.C. State University to evaluate best practices for managing storm water on agricultural fields. NCSU, which will receive $37,000, will develop a fact sheet to be used to reduce pollution near Millstone Creek and the Cape Fear River.

The other projects are:

▪ The N.C. Coastal Federation will receive $195,361 to buy a 24.8-acre section of Schneider Farm on the White Oak River in Swansboro as part of a natural corridor conservation plan.

▪ The Piedmont Conservation Council will get $270,000 to help buy property along a tributary of Loves Creeks in Siler City to restore a natural floodplain and improve water quality.

▪ East Carolina University will have $119,209 to work on restoration of Town Creek, an urban stream in Greenville.

▪ Carolina Land and Lakes Resource Conservation & Development was awarded $32,000 to improve storm water wetlands in the Rocky Face Mountain Recreational Area in Alexander County by removing sediment, nutrients, metals and petroleum products before storm water reaches the Rocky Face Branch watershed.

▪ The Nature Conservancy will receive $150,000 to buy 300 acres along the Black River in Bladen County to protect water quality and habitat by prohibiting development along the river.

▪ The N.C. Coastal Land Trust will receive $425,000 to help buy 3,000 acres along the Waccamaw River to preserve wetlands habitat, improve water quality and buffer natural areas in the Lumber River Basin.

▪ The Tar River Land Conservancy will receive $338,000 to buy 260 acres on Fishing and Possumquarter creeks to preserve streams and forested uplands and protect nationally significant aquatic habitat and drinking water for nearby communities.

▪ Ducks Unlimited will have $250,000 to improve water quality by restoring wetland function in the Pasquotank and Tar-Pamlico River Basins by replacing water-control structures, removing debris from canals and installing pumps.