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Duke Energy awards more than $253,000 in environmental grants to support projects in Greater Cincinnati


CINCINNATI, Oct. 22, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Duke Energy today awarded $253,178 to support 16 projects to aid wetlands, conservation, outdoor nature classrooms, invasive plant removals, water quality, new tree plantings and pollinator gardens across Greater Cincinnati.

Duke Energy, the nation's largest electric utility, unveils its new logo. (PRNewsFoto/Duke Energy) (PRNewsfoto/Duke Energy)

The grants, which the company announced during a ceremony at the Sharon Centre, are issued from the Duke Energy Foundation and provide funding for programs in southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky. Each year, the Foundation chooses grant recipients that focus on strong conservation efforts, water quality, and environmental programs.

"Duke Energy continues to be an industry leader in moving toward a cleaner energy future to power our customers' lives," said Amy Spiller, president, Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky. "We're committed to the environment and will do our part to recognize programs that advance this mission."

In 2018, Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky, and their employees and retirees, donated more than $4 million to local nonprofits. In addition, employees volunteered more than 13,000 hours of community service. 

The following are summaries of each of the 16 local projects that were awarded a combined $253,178 during this morning's ceremony.

Ohio:

The Dan Beard Council, the local administrative body of the Boy Scouts of America, will apply its Duke Energy grant toward hands-on ecology and conservation programs offered at Camp Friedlander in Loveland, Ohio. The programs help scouts build a better connection to nature through exposure, education and practical experience.

Grant will be used to acquire 122 acres at the Mouth of the Little Miami River in East End, inside the city of Cincinnati. This will be the newest Nature Preserve in the city. Duke Energy funds will be utilized for matching project costs as required by the Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Fund, as well as the placement of a livestreaming video camera on the eagle's nest so the public can enjoy watching them raise their young.

Funds will be used for the construction of a boardwalk to protect the natural wetlands around Lotus Pond and the delicate wildlife in the vernal pool. The nature center will also work on educational opportunities to teach visitors about the importance of our native ecosystems; school groups will use the boardwalk as an outdoor classroom.

The Cincinnati Park Foundation will use its grant to assist in the removal of invasive species from Burnet Woods. This is an effort to stop the degradation of the forest and improve the overall ecosystem. There are over 13 varieties of invasive plants that have taken over the greenspace. The goal is to remove all of the invasive material and provide an ongoing maintenance plan with volunteers in the community.

Funding will be used for the tree forestation initiative to locally support the global movement to restore deforested and degraded lands. For every dollar invested in planting, cities see an average $2.25 return on their investment each year. Few things provide such diverse benefits at such a low cost for a long period of time as trees do. The tree forestation initiative is intended to become a key part of Civic Garden's mission to build community through gardening, education and environmental stewardship.

William H. Harsha Lake (East Fork Lake) is the U.S. Army Corp reservoir that provides flood control, recreation and drinking water for local communities. Similar to other inland lakes across the nation, Harsha Lake is plagued with seasonal harmful algal blooms, which require the county to expend additional resources to ensure clean drinking water and safe recreation for residents and visitors. The grant funding will make it possible for the county to better monitor surface water runoff from the East Fork watershed and to advise future water management practices.

Sharon Lake lies at the heart of Sharon Woods, and is the center of recreation opportunities and experiences in the park. The funds will be used to dredge the sediment laden areas where deposits have accumulated in order to restore the lake to its previous depth. Preventive measures will also be improved to prevent sedimentation in the future. The goal is to improve the water quality of the lake so it can better host the natural wildlife and plant species that consider the lake their home, while also enhancing the visitor experience and increasing lake usage in activities such as boating and fishing.

Funding will help Phase II of the Little Duck Creek Trail Improvement Project. The project will expand land restoration work in the Little Duck Creek Nature Preserve through a partnership with the Millcreek Alliance GreenCorps program to remove invasive honeysuckle and other plants in five targeted areas of the preserve. All funds collected this year will support the connection of Bramble Park to adjacent systems and eventually connect with the emerging CROWN paved-trail network. Several more tons of invasive species will be removed from the next phased location of the trail.

The Pollinator Power Place is a pollinator garden and educational space to be located near the Welcome Center at Forest Run MetroPark. The pollinator garden will serve as a food source and habitat for a variety of pollinators and will enhance the experience of visitors to this 200-acre natural area. The pollinator garden, interpretive signs, and educational program shelter (created from an existing former stable), will educate park visitors and program participants (including school children) about the role pollinators play in the world. The garden and associated educational programs will encourage park visitors to construct pollinator gardens on their own properties.

Water quality education and monitoring are key pillars of Mill Creek's Environmental Education program. Building on these pillars, Mill Creek's Blue Team pairs existing Green Corps workforce development program members and university interns with water quality experts and volunteers from the Water Quality Monitoring program. The goal is to provide a firsthand sampling and laboratory experience, as well as environmental career education and opportunities for underserved youth from Mill Creek communities.

Duke Energy Foundation funds will be used to form a strike force to clear 22 acres of invasive plants and trees in Greater Cincinnati. New native plants and trees will be planted to support healthy species. An interactive website will also be a tool where Ohio River Foundation coalition members and the public can help identify plants and areas that are invasive species hot spots.

Three Valley Conservation Trust will use funds to restore, enhance, and protect 13 acres of floodplain and wetland habitat straddling Four Mile Creek in Oxford, Ohio for the benefit of wildlife and community members. The funding will help complete the suppression and removal of invasive flora remaining on 5.5 acres of the preserve, as well as the purchase and installation of native plant species and protective fencing for those new plantings.

The funds will assist in preserving the natural habitat at Lake Barber, which is home to a variety of animals and plants. The area's most prized possession is a recently discovered nest of the American bald eagle. Birdwatchers and park-goers alike often are seen taking photographs of this once rare sight. The funding will also be used to improve, protect and restore the wildlife, aquatic life and the natural resources Lake Barber has to offer for years to come. Eliminating the invasive species surrounding the lake will address safety concerns to the environment, as well as water quality issues by vegetation that are likely causing economic or environmental harm.

Kentucky:

The grant will be used to preserve a unique natural wetland, prevent the loss of floodplain and create a more than 100-acre contiguous nature preserve with trails in the heart of Kenton County. This project will expand the Brushy Fork preserve to protect an additional 50 acres of ecologically sensitive areas in Independence, Ky. The area includes a high-quality forest and a wetland adjacent to the Kenton Conservancy's existing Brushy Fork property. This property contains one of the few natural wetlands in the Banklick Watershed and would create greenspace and passive recreation in a rapidly developing area.

The Pollinator Habitat Initiative project is a collaborative of organizations working together with educational institutions to share knowledge and resources, determine best methods for habitat restoration and creation, and train our next generation of conservationists and scientists. Its overarching goal is to increase the amount of pollinator habitats in the Greater Cincinnati region. The funds will support habitat creation, Northern Kentucky University's research students and collaborative events.

Duke Energy Foundation and Duke Energy Ohio/Kentucky

The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support to meet the needs of communities where Duke Energy customers live and work. The foundation contributes more than $30 million annually in charitable gifts, and is funded by Duke Energy shareholder dollars. More information about the foundation and its Powerful Communities program can be found at duke-energy.com/foundation

Duke Energy Ohio/Kentucky, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, provides electric service to about 860,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in a 3,000-square-mile service area, and natural gas service to approximately 538,000 customers.

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. It employs 30,000 people and has an electric generating capacity of 51,000 megawatts through its regulated utilities, and 3,000 megawatts through its nonregulated Duke Energy Renewables unit.

Duke Energy is transforming its customers' experience, modernizing the energy grid, generating cleaner energy and expanding natural gas infrastructure to create a smarter energy future for the people and communities it serves. The Electric Utilities and Infrastructure unit's regulated utilities serve approximately 7.7 million retail electric customers in six states ? North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. The Gas Utilities and Infrastructure unit distributes natural gas to more than 1.6 million customers in five states ? North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The Duke Energy Renewables unit operates wind and solar generation facilities across the U.S., as well as energy storage and microgrid projects.

Duke Energy was named to Fortune's 2019 "World's Most Admired Companies" list, and Forbes' 2019 "America's Best Employers" list. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energy's illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.    

Contact: Sally Thelen
Office: 513.287.2432
24-Hour: 800.559.3853
Twitter: @DE_SallyT

 

SOURCE Duke Energy


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