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Catawba-Wateree Habitat Enhancement Program (CWHEP)

Habitat Enhancement Program (HEP) is a cooperative initiative by Duke Energy, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. HEP was developed during the relicensing of the Catawba-Wateree Hydro Project to provide an effective means of allowing continued private recreational access while providing meaningful habitat creation, enhancement and protection activities for fish and wildlife adjacent to the Catawba-Wateree River and its reservoirs.

As part of the habitat management strategy, a Habitat Enhancement Fund has been set up to provide for habitat enhancement activities. This fund is supported through fees charged to property owners and developers applying for lake use permits to build private or multiple slip piers in Catawba-Wateree Hydro Project reservoirs, and from contributions by Duke Energy. These funds are awarded to successful applicants through a competitive proposal process. Any government agency or tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization or any individual working through a tax-exempt organization may apply for funding. HEP will consider funding any type of project that meets the above objectives.

For 2022, almost $1.9 million is available for enhancement projects located in North Carolina. Funds totaling over $1.3 million are available for projects located in South Carolina. Individual project awards typically range from $10,000 to $50,000.

Since 2007, the program has provided over $2.3 million in awards in the Carolinas for habitat enhancement projects.
 

How to Apply

HEP only accepts proposals for funding that are submitted from May 1 through July 31 of each year. Applicants must provide all requested information or their proposals will be returned without consideration. All properly completed and submitted proposals will be reviewed first by the Lakes Advisory Committee (LAC) in the applicable state. LAC's recommendations will then be considered by that state's Technical Review Committee (TRC) during their review and scoring process. All applicants will be notified of the TRC's decision, and successful applicants will be issued instructions regarding the dispersal of funds and reporting requirements.

To submit an application for project funding:
  1. Download and complete the Catawba-Wateree Habitat Enhancement Program Funding Application Form.
  2. Save the document to your computer.
  3. Send an email to Michael.Abney@Duke-Energy.com and include your proposal as an attachment. Photos can be submitted along with your proposal as separate attachments to the same email. Please send photos in JPEG format.
If you have any questions on the application process contact Michael Abney at Michael.Abney@duke-energy.com or 980.373.0435.

Evaluation Criteria

Each proposal will be given a fair and equitable consideration for funding. Standard criteria have been established to guide the Lakes Advisory Committee and the Technical Review Committee in this effort. Before implementing any activities on Duke Energy’s lake property or within the FERC Project Boundary at Duke Energy lakes, you must apply for and receive a lake use permit. Although not required, the Applicant is encouraged to consult with Duke Energy Lake Services prior to application submission.

Lakes Advisory Committee Application

The Lakes Advisory Committee will consist of up to seven members in North Carolina and up to five members in South Carolina, with members potentially representing each of the Catawba-Wateree reservoirs. Persons wishing to serve on the Lakes Advisory Committee in their state have to apply for this position through a competitive process with the successful participants selected by Duke Energy and either the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission or the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Follow these steps to submit an application:

  1. Read the Habitat Enhancement Program Charter.
  2. Open the Lakes Advisory Committee Application document and complete the application.
  3. Print the completed application. 
  4. Sign and date the completed application and either email (Michael.Abney@duke-energy.com) or send to:
Michael Abney
Duke Energy
Habitat Enhancement Program
526 S. Church St. (EC-12Q)
Charlotte, NC 28202

Recent North Carolina Awards

Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation; Belmont, NC
An award was granted toward the eradication of invasive aquatic plant species in the South Fork Catawba River Arm of Lake Wylie. Areas will be restored with native aquatic plants to improve fish and wildlife habitat.

Catawba County; Catawba, NC
An award was granted toward the restoration of 478 acres of terrestrial habitat along the shoreline of upper Lake Norman. The management plan includes eradication of invasive plant species, cultivation of forests for indigenous wildlife species, public engagement, and recreation.

North Carolina Wildlife Federation; Charlotte, NC
An award was granted toward the installation of fish habitat at the recently completed public fishing pier at the Hagers Creek Public Access Area on Lake Norman. The area will be enhanced with multi-dimensional rock to attract fish.

Friends of Lake Norman State Park; Troutman, NC
An award was granted toward the eradication of invasive plant species. Areas will be restored with native plants to improve wildlife habitat and to prevent runoff and erosion.

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; Elkin, NC
Awards were granted to enhance fish habitat by planting native aquatic vegetation and installing hundreds of artificial fish habitat structures in lakes James, Rhodhiss, Hickory, Lookout Shoals, Mountain Island and Norman.

North Carolina Lions Club Camp Dogwood Conservation Project; Sherrills Ford, NC
An award was granted to assist in the installation of wildlife nesting enhancements for bats, osprey and wood ducks.

North Carolina Wildlife Federation; Charlotte, NC
An award was granted to install osprey nesting platforms adjacent to multiple Lake Norman channel markers upon which osprey constructed nests. The platforms are similar to those previously installed around the lake, and they are intended to relocate the nesting osprey from the channel markers.

Catawba Lands Conservancy; Belmont, NC
Awards were granted to continue native plant restoration and increase biodiversity at the Seven Oaks Preserve and Goat Island Preserve properties located along Lake Wylie.

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; Nebo, NC
Awards were granted to support the restoration and protection of native mussel habitat in the Catawba River below Lake James via debris removal, stream stabilization and river realignment, and population augmentation.

North Carolina Wildlife Federation; Charlotte, NC
Awards were granted to improve terrestrial and aquatic habitats via shoreline restoration and installation of native plants, rock reefs and spawning benches for fish, bat nesting boxes, osprey nesting platforms, chimney swift towers and a great blue heron rookery webcam on Lake Norman. 

Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina; Morganton, NC
Awards were granted to improve terrestrial and aquatic habitats via shoreline restoration and installation of native plants, and to assist in the acquisition of undeveloped lands on Lake James and its tributaries. The acquisitions will provide for protection of riparian buffers, water quality, and in stream aquatic habitat protection and enhancement.

Friends of Lake James State Park; Nebo, NC
An award was granted to ameliorate for runoff and erosion at an access area on Lake James. Areas will be seeded with a native pollinator mix to improve insect and wildlife habitat.

Lake Norman Delta Waterfowl; Huntersville, NC
An award was granted to assist in the installation and maintenance of wood duck nesting boxes on Lake Norman.

Gaston County Piedmont Area Wildlife Stewards (NC Wildlife Federation); Gastonia, NC
An award was granted to assist in the installation of artificial fish attractors, wood duck nesting boxes, and osprey nesting platforms on Lake Wylie (NC and SC).

Recent South Carolina Awards

Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation; Ft. Lawn, SC
An award was granted toward installing monofilament line collection devices located at boat launches and other popular fishing areas.

Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation; Ft. Lawn, SC

An award was granted toward various types of fish and wildlife habitat enhancements and invasive species control along the shoreline of upper Fishing Creek Reservoir. The enhancements will be the centerpiece of Riverkeeper’s Outdoor Classroom educational programs.

South Carolina Wildlife Federation; Columbia, SC
An award was granted to produce educational materials and assist in the installation and maintenance of prothonotary warbler nesting boxes on Lake Wylie, Lake Wateree and the Fishing Creek, Great Falls/Dearborn and Rocky Creek/Cedar Creek reservoirs.

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; Catawba, SC
An award was granted to assist in the acquisition of a 385-acre tract of land to be added to the Landsford Canal Wildlife Management Area. The land purchase will permanently protect the unique fish and wildlife habitat on the Catawba River.

Katawba Valley Land Trust; Lancaster, SC
An award was granted to assist in the acquisition of a 150-acre conservation easement on the Catawba River to permanently protect unique fish and wildlife habitat.

Katawba Valley Land Trust; Lancaster, SC
Awards were granted to assist in the acquisition of the Great Falls Natural Areas Project, which consists of 192 acres of unique habitat bordering Cedar Creek and Great Falls reservoirs, and 161 acres of conservation easements on Rocky Creek and Fishing Creek.

South Carolina Wildlife Federation; Columbia, SC
An award was granted to construct and build osprey nesting platforms and wood duck nesting boxes on Lake Wylie, Lake Wateree and the Fishing Creek, Great Falls/Dearborn and Rocky Creek/Cedar Creek reservoirs.

North Carolina HEP Committees

Lakes Advisory Committee
  • Graham Morgan (Lake James)
  • Beth Heile (Lake Rhodhiss)
  • John Wear (Lake Hickory)
  • Karyn Yaussy (Lookout Shoals Lake)
  • Mark Lancaster (Lake Norman)
  • Dan DuVall (Mountain Island Lake)
  • Bo Ibach (Lake Wylie)
Technical Review Committee
  • Michael Abney (Duke Energy)
  • Chris Goudreau (N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission)
  • Danny Ray (N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission)
  • Tim Gestwicki (N.C. Wildlife Federation)
  • Bryan Tompkins (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

South Carolina HEP Committees

Lakes Advisory Committee
  • Jim Pressly (Lake Wylie)
  • Hank Higgins (Fishing Creek Lake)
  • Donald Wells (Lake Wateree)
Technical Review Committee
  • Michael Abney (Duke Energy)
  • Robert Stroud (S.C. Department of Natural Resources)
  • Barry Kesler (S.C. Department of Natural Resources)
  • Dick Christie (Katawba Valley Land Trust)
  • Melanie Olds (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Osprey nesting platform
Construction of osprey nesting platforms.
Plantings enclosure
Protected water-willow plantings to support native shoreline vegetation.
Black willow live stakes
Protected black willow live stakes in Lake Norman.
Boat ready to deploy artificial fish habitats
Volunteers deploy artificial fish habitats in Lake Wylie.
Volunteers plant native button bush
Volunteers plant native button bush along the shoreline of Lake Norman.
Construction of artificial fish reef
Construction of deep-water artificial fish reefs.
Chimney swift nesting tower
Chimney swift nesting tower adjacent to Lake Norman.
Volunteers removing invasive plant species
Volunteers remove invasive plant species for habitat restoration in Lake Norman State Park.
Hagers Creek aerial shot
Installation of fish habitat at Hagers Creek Public Access Area, Lake Norman.
Native mussel
Native mussel propagation for the upper Catawba River.