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A tiny turtle in the palm of a hand.
Information icon A tiny bog turtle. Photo by Rosie Walunas, USFWS.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gives $115,000 to help Mitchell and Yancey County streams

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) recently announced it’s awarding $115,000 in grants to improve water and stream quality and help ensure fish and other aquatic life can freely move up and downstream in the Upper Nolichucky River Basin,

“The Upper Nolichucky River is a priority focus area for conservation and the Service remains committed to helping local people and local organizations restore and protect it,” said Anita Goetz, a biologist with the Service.

$75,000 will go to the Blue Ridge Resource Conservation and Development Council (Blue Ridge RC&D), while $40,000 will go to Toe River Valley Watch.

Each organization will use the funds to work with willing private landowners to remove barriers to fish movement, such as collapsed culverts, and implement soil and water conservation projects on private lands, such as stabilizing eroding stream banks, establishing streamside forests, keeping agricultural runoff out of streams, and eradicating invasive plants.

The organizations have sought to match the grants with funds or in-kind services, with a target of at least a 50% cost share, meaning up to $230,000 going to soil and water conservation in the area.

“TRVW is very thankful for this grant. We plan to work closely with local landowners, local governments, industries and agencies to use these funds to protect and improve the water quality and other natural resources in the Upper Nolichucky Watershed,” said Starli McDowell, president of Toe River Valley Watch.

This is the second year in a row the two organizations have received grants from the Service, which considers the Upper Nolichucky River a priority conservation area due to the presence of the federally protected Appalachian elktoe mussel, Virginia spiraea plant, and bog turtle.

The funds come from the Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, designed to provide technical and financial assistance to private landowners who want to improve fish and wildlife habitat on their property.


  • Anita Goetz, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (828) 258-3939, ext. 228
  • Cliff Vinson, Blue Ridge Resource Conservation and Development Council, (828) 765-4701
  • Starli McDowell, Toe River Valley Watch, (828) 675-4311

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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