GREENVILLE, S.C. (WBTW) — The Duke Energy Foundation has awarded nearly $500,000 in grants to 16 South Carolina organizations, including four in Darlington and Florence counties, that will fund wildlife conservation efforts, environmental projects and educational programs across the state.

“We are committed to making strategic investments to build powerful communities where nature and wildlife thrive,” said Michael Callahan, Duke Energy’s South Carolina president. “By supporting the organizations that do this great work, we can help protect, restore and enhance natural resources, provide valuable educational opportunities and promote access to nature for South Carolinians of all ages.”

Florence County will receive $15,000 to improve water quality and access at Lake Brook Park.

“I want to thank the Duke Energy Foundation for this magnanimous grant that will further enhance water quality, help sustain our natural resources and improve the quality of life for the citizens of Florence County and the great state of South Carolina,” Florence County administrator K.G. “Rusty” Smith said.

Francis Marion University was awarded a $50,000 grant to create a mobile lab for faculty and students research on flooding, water quality and wildlife ecosystems.

“Duke Energy has been one of Francis Marion University’s more committed and generous supporters over the years,” Dr. Fred Carter, the school’s president, said. “This substantial gift will fund a mobile laboratory that will enhance learning opportunities as a complement to our Ecology Center when it opens early next semester.”

Kalmia Gardens, a 35-acre botanical garden and historic house in Hartsville, will receive $7,000 to extend a boardwalk and improve erosion control.

“The grant funds from Duke Energy will allow more visitors at Kalmia Gardens to safely and easily access the primeval forest at the easternmost part of the garden by installing a boardwalk, thus expanding the visiting public’s learning experience,” Dan Hill, Kalmia Gardens’ assistant director said.

The Pee Dee Land Trust in Darlington County was awarded $25,000 to improve public access to Black Creek.

“The Duke Energy Foundation grant will enable Pee Dee Land Trust to create a new public access point for non-motorized boats on Black Creek at our Mozingo Preserve, located off Society Hill Road in Darlington,” Lyles Cooper, the executive director of the Pee Dee Land Trust said.

Other grants were awarded to the following organizations:

  • Ann Springs Close Greenway – Prevent and remove water pollution and stabilize shorelines in Steele Creek ($25,000)
  • Audubon South Carolina – Expand coverage of wildlife tracking tower network in the Upstate ($20,000)
  • Beautiful Places Alliance – Expand outreach and activities by S.C. State Parks to underserved minority communities ($20,000)
  • Ducks Unlimited – Enhance wetland habitats at Beaverdam Creek Wildlife Management Area ($25,000)
  • Greenville Revitalization Corporation – Restore stream and native species at Textile Heritage Park ($5,000)
  • Partners for Active Living – Remove invasive species along a section of the Three Creeks Trail ($5,000)
  • Roper Mountain Science Center – Create Sustainability Garden at the Environmental Science and Sustainability Building ($50,000)
  • Save our Saluda – Protect and restore the Upper Saluda River watershed ($20,000)
  • Spartanburg Area Conservancy – Transform tornado damage at Griffin Nature Preserve into educational forest ($5,000)
  • Spartanburg Community College – Stabilize Fairforest Creek headwaters at the main campus to prevent sediments downstream ($20,000)
  • The Nature Conservancy of South Carolina – Repair pedestrian bridge over Vaughn’s Creek at Blue Wall Preserve ($25,000)
  • Trees Upstate – Expand Energy Saving Trees giveaway program by focusing outreach to underrepresented Hispanic communities and translating materials into Spanish ($78,000)

The Duke Energy Foundation contributes more than $30 million annually in charitable gifts, and is funded by Duke Energy shareholder dollars.