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.