The Clean Water Management Trust Fund: Preserving North Carolina’s Natural Beauty for 20 Years


When friends take a walk on tree-lined trails of greenways in Charlotte or the towns of Troy or Lumberton, they don’t think of the Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF). But for 20 years that agency has been protecting the beauty, enhancing environmental quality and improving the quality of life in North Carolina with grants. North Carolina’s cities and communities large and small have benefited from the more than 75 CWMTF greenway projects.

“Protecting our state’s natural resources, history and environment has a positive impact on every corner of North Carolina,” says Governor Pat McCrory. “The preservation of streams and rivers, cultural landmarks and natural treasures is vitally important to improving North Carolina’s quality of life that is second to none.”

Since its establishment in 1996, nearly 1,800 grants totaling more than $1 billion have been awarded statewide. CWMTF enhances or restores degraded waters, protects unpolluted waters, contributes to buffers and greenways, provides buffers for military bases, protects ecological diversity and acquires land to benefit historic properties since 2013. The work continues in this 20th anniversary year.

“The Clean Water Management Trust Fund provides such a valuable service to our citizens by not only protecting water quality and wildlife, but by protecting important parts of our history and quality of life,” says N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz. “Our beautiful environment is one of the top reasons new companies come to North Carolina.”

The fund has awarded grants that have impacted every county in the state. Two outstanding stream restoration projects involve the Ararat River in Surry County and Little Sugar Creek in Mecklenburg County. 

These are examples of working with local governments and nonprofits to reduce the amount of sediment entering streams, improve fish habitat, reduce flooding and allow community access. Assistance with wastewater treatment is also an essential service to local communities.

“For the last 20 years, the Clean Water Management Trust Fund has been The Nature Conservancy’s most valuable partner,” explains Will Morgan, Nature Conservancy director of government relations. “The trust fund has helped finance the protection of countless critical tracts of land across the state that help maintain and restore water quality.”

CWMTF helps preserve land for many purposes including elk habitat, endangered birds, a covered bridge and battlegrounds. Approximately 73 acres recently were added to Bentonville Battlefield in Four Oaks, site of the largest Civil War battle in North Carolina. The fund also assisted with a private donation that doubled the size of Mount Mitchell State Park this summer.

The U.S. Department of Defense provides federal funds to the trust fund, enabling awards to more than 40 military buffer projects, including in the Sandhills, under flight paths leading to Dare County, for bombing ranges near Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune and for a boundary with Camp Butner. Many of the tracts protect water quality or rare species, such as the red cockaded woodpecker, so the grants protect both military and natural communities.

Grants totaling more than $1 billion have been awarded by CWMTF, and leveraging with partners raises the total to more than $1.6 billion. More than a half-million acres of land and roughly 155 miles of streams and rivers have been protected in North Carolina.

“The staff and trustees at the Clean Water Management Trust Fund have consistently provided the knowledge and experience necessary to ensure that valuable state funds are getting the best return on their investments,” adds The Nature Conservancy’s Will Morgan. “The state is well served.”

See some CWMTF projects at