General Assembly Budget Support for Land and Water Conservation Praised

The Land for Tomorrow coalition commends the Legislature for providing more than $22 million in additional funding for the state’s three conservation trust funds. These additional funds help keep the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund at level funding from recent years, which will enable conservation groups to continue to work with our state partners to protect the state’s valuable natural resources.

In addition, the significant increase to the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund will provide matching funds for two recent federal grants, including one that will help protect land around military bases from incompatible development, and another one that will help protect family farms in the North Carolina mountains.

“We appreciate the legislature’s support of these critical conservation trust funds,” said Bill Holman, Chairman of the Land for Tomorrow Legislative Committee. “We look forward to working with the legislature in future years to continue to increase funding for these trust funds.”

Land for Tomorrow is a coalition of conservation groups and parks and recreation advocates, who partner with the state and local governments and private landowners to conserve North Carolina’s land and water resources, preserve farmland, protect military bases, expand hunting and recreation opportunities, and sustain North Carolina’s economy.

Land for Tomorrow Gathers Local Legislators for Legislative Forum

Conservation Organizations Highlighted the Economic Benefits of State Funding to the Triad Region

RALEIGH –Land for Tomorrow recently gathered members of the NC General Assembly for a legislative forum to highlight the economic benefits of state conservation funding for the Triad region. The region’s major economic assets – agriculture, tourism, hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation offered by the Mountains-to-Sea Trail – all depend on land and water conservation.

North Carolina’s conservation trust funds – the Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF), Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF), and Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund (ADFPTF) – have invested $122.5 million in Alamance, Chatham, Guilford, Orange, and Randolph County projects that support economic development and preserve the region’s unique natural features.

Senator Valerie Foushee, Representative Dennis Riddell, and Representative Stephen Ross attended the event. Members and supporters of Piedmont Land Conservancy, Triangle Land Conservancy, Alamance Parks, and Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, presented projects that enhance the local quality of life of constituents. Lawmakers heard from local conservation organizations, volunteers, and family farmers whose projects and businesses benefit from state conservation funding.

The Cane Creek Mountains Natural Area, a project awarded $715,550 in PARTF grants, will become a 600-1,000-acre park within the Alamance Parks system. Brumley Forest, awarded funds from the CWMTF, recently opened 15 miles of hiking and biking trails to the public in Orange County. With $469,000 of ADFPTF grants, the seven-generation Isley Farm conserves more than 400 acres of pastureland and forest along 1.5 miles of the Haw River and hosts the popular Vegetable Barn where visitors can purchase produce from nearly two-dozen local farmers.

“Parks, trails, and scenic areas including the Cane Creek Mountains Natural Area and Mountains-to-Sea Trail help boost the state’s $20 billion tourism economy to enhance North Carolina’s quality of life and ability to attract new families and businesses to the triad and other regions across our state,” said Michelle Wells, Executive Director at NC Recreation & Park Association. “The goal of these round tables is to educate legislators on the importance of these funds and how conservation projects benefit communities, the local economy, and their citizens.”

Land for Tomorrow appreciates the support these legislators have shown for conservation projects, but the demand for great projects exceeds available resources. Some of the challenges highlighted at the round table included:

  • More than 70 percent of North Carolinians broadly support restoring state funding for the conservation trust funds to $100 million to protect water quality, conserve working farms, and acquire parkland and preserve historic sites.
  • 135 local governments, conservation organizations, and state agencies requested nearly $68 million from CWMTF in 2017, with only about $20 million available.
  • Sixty-four local governments requested $19 million from PARTF in 2017, with only $6.3 available.

Land for Tomorrow will continue to work with legislative and community leaders across the state to protect and restore water quality, to preserve family farms that produce local and fresh food, and to support the $28 billion outdoor recreation industry in NC.

North Carolinians Overwhelmingly Support Land and Water Conservation

In early March, Land for Tomorrow conducted a statewide poll to determine how voters feel about public funding for land and water conservation. *  Here are the key findings:

  • 73% of registered voters support restoring public funding to $100 million for the state’s three conservation trust funds to conserve forests, working farms, parks and historic sites, as well as preventing polluted runoff from contaminating rivers, lakes, creeks and groundwater.
  • 95% of registered voters say protecting sources of drinking water is important
  • 79% of registered voters say preserving working farms is important
  • 78% of registered voters say protecting fish and wildlife is important
  • 77% of registered voters say protecting forests is important
  • 73% of registered voters say conserving beaches and coastal areas are important.
  • 71% of registered voters say providing more opportunities for children to explore and learn about nature is important.
  • 70% of registered voters say protecting wetlands that help weaken hurricanes before they reach land is important.
  • 68% of registered voters say conserving natural areas next to military bases is important.

*Bipartisan polling team of Public Opinion Strategies (Republican) and FM3 (Democrat) conducted the phone poll March 3 – 5. The poll has a margin of error of 4%.

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