07/13/04 — Grant approved to buy land around base

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Grant approved to buy land around base

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on July 13, 2004 1:57 PM

RALEIGH -- A $1.7 million grant was approved Monday that is designed to restore acres of wetlands and protect Seymour Johnson Air Force Base from development that could hinder its mission.

The city of Goldsboro and Wayne County requested the money from The N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund's board of trustees. The entire project is $2.3 million with the city and county providing a $600,000 match.

The grants are dependent on funding for the 2004-2005 fiscal year from the N.C. General Assembly, which is expected to approve its budget later this week. The funding for the Goldsboro project has been included in the budget, which is still being negotiated.

The watershed improvement project will protect about 500 acres along Stoney and Walnut creeks in the Neuse River Basin near Seymour Johnson. Designated areas are along U.S. 70 East adjacent to the base and in the Genoa area on the southern end of the runway. A lot of it is vacant land that has been used for farming, said Tasha Logan, assistant to the Goldsboro city manager.

The project would involve buying 31 parcels from 25 landowners.

The land is also in the Accident Potential Zone beyond the runway. Development in the zone could threaten the base's ability to perform its mission. The board approved an amendment allowing the project to expand to both sides of the runway, into Accident Potential Zones 1 and 2.

"We have seized a unique and extremely important opportunity to protect both water resources along with our military installations whose missions are threatened by rapid development," said fund trustee Phil Baddour of Goldsboro.

"With the Base Realignment and Closure proceedings just around the corner, the timing for these grants is just right."

The project application was made in December and was one of the highest ranked projects in this funding cycle.

The board, in all, funded 40 projects for a total of $34 million. The board also granted $1.8 million request from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission to purchase two tracts of land in the White Oak River Basin, which are adjacent to Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base. The grants will protect 750 acres along Stone's Creek and Hick's Run.

The board also approved $3.87 million for the N.C. Division of Soil and Water's Swine Lagoon Buyout Program Phase III. Farmers apply to be a part of the program. Thirty-four lagoons have been closed since the program started. The board deferred $3.87 million to the next cycle of funding.