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Funds available for lake habitat projects

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Beginning May 1, the Keowee-Toxaway Habitat Enhancement Program will take applications for funds for projects that create, enhance and protect fish and wildlife habitats along the shores of Lake Keowee and Lake Jocassee, as well as in their watersheds.

More than $1.4 million is available this year, according to a news release.

Projects eligible for funding include a wide range of categories that include planting native shoreline vegetation, constructing osprey platforms and wood duck boxes, and purchasing property and conservation easements that permanently preserve rare and unique habitats, the release said.

Since 2015, the first year of implementation, the Keowee-Toxaway Habitat Enhancement Program has funded projects totaling more than $450,000 to support fish and avian habitat improvements. Individual project awards typically range from $10,000 to $50,000.

The Keowee-Toxaway Habitat Enhancement Program was formed as a result of the Keowee-Toxaway Relicensing Agreement Duke Energy entered into with 16 other stakeholder organizations during the Keowee-Toxaway Hydroelectric Project Federal Energy Regulatory Commission relicensing process, according to the release.

The program is funded annually from a fee charged to individuals and developers seeking lake use permits for projects on the Keowee-Toxaway lakes, as well as by contributions from Duke Energy. The Foothills Community Foundation administers the funds.

Anyone interested in seeking funds this year are encouraged to complete an application found on the website at Keowee-Toxaway Habitat Enhancement Program website by July 31. Approved projects will receive the funds in the fall.

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