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Duke Energy supports local parks with Earth Day grants

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Greenville's New Heights Community Association received $5,000 for the upkeep of the Happy Hearts Community Center. (Photo/Provided)To commemorate Earth Day, the Duke Energy Foundation granted $100,000 to various organizations that support access to parks and trails across the states, as well as microgrants to community parks across South Carolina. 

The gifts are part of a $400,000 month-long campaign focused on sustainability and environmental efforts, according to a news release. 

South Carolina State Parks will use its grant to improve handicap accessibility to Lake Placid at Paris Mountain State Park, while the Nature Conservancy will build a 20-mile stretch of trail at Jones Gap State Park called the Gap Creek Extension. 

The Palmetto Trail pledged its support for the Gap Creek Extension with its donation from Duke Energy and will also fund updated trail signage and a trailhead kiosk, the news release said. 

Another grant will help replace wooden footbridges throughout the Foothills Trail and upgrade equipment used to manage the trail, according to the release. 

Anderson County's Kidventure Park also received a $5,000 "surcee" grant from Duke Energy. (Photo/Provided)“Five years ago, the Duke Energy Water Resources Fund generously supported The Nature Conservancy’s purchase of a 955-acre property to expand Jones Gap State Park,” Dale Threatt-Taylor, executive director for The Nature Conservancy in South Carolina, said in the release. “Today, this additional $25,000 investment from the Duke Energy Foundation will support the design of more than 20 miles of trails that will traverse throughout that property. Providing more outdoor recreational access for South Carolinians to enjoy is an ideal way to celebrate Earth Day, and we’re excited to have the foundation’s continued support in protecting and stewarding special landscapes in the Upstate and beyond.” 

Earlier in the month, Duke employees and retirees volunteered with TreesUpstate and the Energy Saving Trees Program. The energy company also extended $100,000 to litter pick-up organization Palmetto Pride, which led a statewide beautification campaign in partnership with Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette and the Girl Scouts of South Carolina last week. 

“The natural beauty of South Carolina is a gift, and we have to do what we can to be good stewards of it,” Evette said in the release. 

For landscaping, beautification, facility upgrades and repairs, the foundation also earmarked $35,000 in $5,000 “surcee” grants for seven community parks across the Palmetto State. 

“We think it’s important to work alongside our community partners to ensure all of the beautiful places in South Carolina can be enjoyed for years to come,” Mike Callahan, Duke Energy South Carolina state president, said in the release. “The organizations these funds support will aid in the protection of the environment and provide communities with much-needed resources to promote good stewardship of the natural beauty around us.” 

“Surcee” grant recipients include: 

· KidVenture Park at the Civic Center in Anderson County 

· Rodman Park in Chester County 

· The future Briggs Elliot Memorial Park in Clarendon County 

· Dew Park in Florence County 

· Happy Hearts Park in Greenville County 

· Blenheim Park in Marlboro County 

· New Centre Park in York County.

Reach Molly Hulsey at 864-720-1223.

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