From building butterfly habitats to the restoration of a B-25 bomber, the Richland County Conservation Commission is living its mission by issuing grants for projects that will protect the County’s history and natural resources.
Eight Community Conservation Grants and 10 Historic Preservation Grants were recently given by the Commission to local organizations working on projects that meet criteria for the funding. Community Conservation Grants are presented to groups working on projects that protect natural resources, improve water quality, build trails and enhance environmental education. Historic Preservation Grants are awarded to organizations to restore historically significant buildings or to promote the County’s heritage.
Both types of grants require a 20 percent match and must demonstrate a clear public benefit.
“The competition was quite fierce this year for the $250,000 in grant allocations,” said Nancy Stone-Collum, Richland County Conservation Coordinator. “There was a good mix of education-research, trail improvements and restoration projects. These projects improve our communities, enhance our sense of place and help promote the rich natural and historic heritage of Richland County.”
Camp Discovery, a non-profit youth organization in Blythewood, received a $13,900 Community Conservation Grant for its new water-themed education initiative. The program will use the natural environment as a hands-on portal to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning along the creeks and streams of the Twenty-Five Mile Creek Watershed.
“By offering hands-on activities in nature that provide real-world challenges and enrich STEM learning, we hope to support children’s academic needs and spark their desire to protect, restore and enhance our state’s natural resources,” said Joanna Weitzel, executive director of Camp Discovery.
The Olympia Community Education Foundation received a $25,000 Historic Preservation Grant for window restoration of the Olympia-Granby Mill Village Museum. Once restored, the original mill house will serve as a museum, community space and teaching establishment in the heart of the Olympia and Granby Mill areas, which were first established as mill villages in the late 1800s.
“In addition to serving the present community, our vision is that this project may act as a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization and that people coming in to Richland County will find this a suitable place to live, put down roots and build on the historical significance that is already there,” said project spokesperson Sherry Jaco.
Other projects include:
· Interior restoration of a World War II B-25 bomber by the South Carolina Historic Aviation Foundation
· Nomination of the Melrose Heights/Oak Lawn neighborhoods as a Historic District in the National Register of Historic Places
· Rosewood Orchard improvements by Columbia Resilience
· A monarch butterfly habitat and bird nesting grounds by Heathwood Hall Episcopal School
· Trail enhancements at Harbison State Forest by Friends of Harbison State Forest
The Richland County Conservation Commission is comprised of 11 members representing the County’s 11 Council districts. Members volunteer their time and have backgrounds in land conservation, historic preservation and other related fields.
To learn more about the Richland County Conservation Commission’s efforts to preserve and protect and for details about its grant programs, visit www.rcgov.us/Government/Departments/Conservation or call 803-576-2080.