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Pigeon River Fund

In 2015, Riverlink received $23,978 to purchase canoes, waders and related equipment to facilitate stream cleanup, water quality monitoring and educational programs in the French Broad Watershed.   

Grant criteria as stated in the FERC License and the fund agreement: 

The Pigeon River Fund (PRF) exists to improve the streams and rivers of Haywood, Buncombe and Madison counties. The Fund supports projects and activities that provide direct benefits to at least one of the following focus areas:  

  1. Improved surface water quality
  2. Enhanced fish and wildlife management and habitats
  3. Expanded public access
  4. Increased citizen’s awareness about their roles in protecting these resources.
Preparation of river management plans and watershed studies, as well as acquisition of conservation easements, shall be considered to provide direct benefits.

PRF grant funds are not appropriate for any projects and activities related to or in support of litigation in any administrative or judicial forum. 

Funding Priorities

Grant requests may address any of the four focus areas listed above. To provide applicants with additional guidance, the Pigeon River Fund Board has the following expectations for grants: 

Priority for funding for requests that:

  • Support efforts to address water quality issues in streams or watersheds that are identified as priorities in county (or other authority) watershed action plans. 
  • Promote collaboration or coordination on projects that address comprehensive issues and will have long-term impact. 
  • Encourage education and awareness of water quality issues preferably focused on helping individuals understand how their actions relate to the overall health of the river basin.
  • Install water quality BMPs or other stream improvements that are part of a coordinated multi-faceted effort and will result in significant improvement in water quality. 

Lower priority

  • Scattered projects (including demonstration BMPs or other projects) not related to coordinated effort to improve priority streams/watershed in that community. 
  • Government agency operating support, especially staffing. 
  • Projects related to regulation enforcement which is the responsibility of the government.


  •  Tax-exempt organizations described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal RevenueCode and governmental entities are eligible to apply for these grants. 
  • Grants are typically for one year and will range from $4,000 to $30,000. 
  • PRF grants should leverage other funds or in-kind resources toward total project costs. 
  • If the project is/will be ongoing, PRF funds should only be a resource for start-up/pilot or a specific time-limited component of a larger project. Applicants should have plans for sustainability beyond the PRF grant for on-going projects. 
  • Grant funds may be used to support “administrative costs” including share of staff costs when directly related to accomplishing the PRF-related project.

How to Apply

1. Access Community Foundation Staff Assistance

Applications are considered twice a year with complete applications due to The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina by 5PM on March 15th and September 15th with funding decisions announced within 2 months.  

Prior to submitting an application, you are encouraged to discuss your proposal with Pigeon River Fund staff. You will be advised about what activities may be appropriate for Pigeon River Fund support and key points to address in your application. For assistance, contact Tara Scholtz (email) or 828-367-9913.

2. Submit a Pigeon River Fund Grant Application

The PRF application is an online process.  Go HERE to begin the online process.  The online application should be completed by the deadline date.  If the deadline date is on a weekend or holiday, the deadline is 5 p.m. the next business day. All applicants will receive notification of the receipt of their application (by email) and next steps in the review process within 2 weeks after the grant deadline.

3. Participate in the Review Process

Applications are screened for completeness, clarity and compliance with eligibility requirements, and are acknowledged in writing. We consider the proposals’ match with the Fund’s priorities, the availability of funds for the stated purposes, the applicants’ capabilities, and the potential benefits to the community. Staff may request a phone conversation or site visit during the review period. The Pigeon River Fund Board approves all grant proposals, and funding decisions are announced within two months of the application date.

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