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Franklin brownfield cleanup gets grant funding

Mainspring Conservation Trust has received $175,000 to clean up and restore a brownfield site near Nikwasi Mound in Franklin. The money will help Mainspring remediate petroleum-contaminated soils on a vacant gravel lot in downtown Franklin.

“This area is in the heart of the ancient Cherokee townsite of Nikwasi and the modern-day river district of Franklin,” said Mainspring Executive Director Jordan Smith. “Eliminating the source of contamination to both the groundwater under the site and the surface waters of the Little Tennessee River will set the stage for the development of additional greenspace and enhance access to adjacent public art displays designed to welcome visitors and tell the story of Southern Appalachia.”

The grant is the largest of three announced this week from the N.C. Department of Justice Environmental Enhancement Grant Program. The grant program stems from a 2000 agreement between the N.C. Attorney General’s Office and Smithfield Foods under which Smithfield provides $2 million annually for distribution to environmental projects across the state. Including the 2023 grants, the Attorney General’s office has awarded nearly $43 million to more than 228 projects in the state.

“It is important to preserve North Carolina’s history and places of cultural significance,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “I’m grateful that this grant will help restore land and water that carries so much meaning for the Cherokee and for our state.”

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