Prioritizing land and water conservation

Thank you to North Carolina’s governor and legislators for passing a budget that prioritizes land and water conservation. Funding of $48.4 million to the state’s conservation trust funds will benefit people and nature for generations.

Our state’s conservation needs are not one-and-done. The Land for Tomorrow coalition thanks our state leadership for building on the foundation of conservation funding established in 2021. By securing reoccurring funding, every generation now has a chance to have clean air and water as well as beautiful places to play.

Land and water are North Carolina’s most important economic assets. The four engines of North Carolina’s economy – agriculture, tourism, forestry and the military – depend on land and water conservation. Therefore, protecting these vital natural resources is essential to North Carolina’s bottom line – boosting spending and providing jobs.

Our state’s conservation trust funds ensure that the North Carolina Land and Water Trust Fund (NCLWF), Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF), and the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund (ADFPTF) are fully funded to be the safeguards for our state. In addition, these funds enable conservation groups to continue working with state agencies to protect North Carolina’s valuable natural resources, ensuring that both current and future generations will continue to benefit from all our state has to offer.

Thank you to the governor and our legislators for conservation funding of the following:

  • Increases recurring funding for the North Carolina Land and Water Fund by $11 million, taking the total recurring funding from $13.2 million to $24.2 million.
  • Increases recurring funding for the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund by $8 million, taking the total recurring funding from $16.2 million to $24.2 million.

To learn more about the impact of the conservation trust funds and see your tax dollars in action, follow Land for Tomorrow on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/L4TNC – and Twitter – https://twitter.com/land4tomorrow.

NC Land & Water Fund Successes!

Since its creation in 1996, the NC Land & Water Fund (NCLWF) has conserved well over one-half million acres and protected or restored 3,000 miles of streams and rivers. Here are just a few examples of how they’ve helped protect land in our state.

  • Orchard at Altapass
    In the 1990s, the property was for sale and many people thought it would be developed for second homes. However, the new owners wanted to preserve its beauty and history. The Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC) worked with the owners to protect the orchard by raising funds to purchase conservation easements, which included a grant of $180,843 from NCLWF. Together with the state, the property is now in permanent conservation easement and is still a working orchard. Learn more.
  • Waccamaw River
    NCLWF has awarded 10 projects, totaling over $9 million for projects in the Town of Lake Waccamaw and the Waccamaw lake and river system. This funding has matched over $11 million from local, state, federal, and private funds. Read more.
  • Chestnut Mountain Nature Park
    Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy made this park in Canton, NC, possible thanks to a $1.2 million award from the NC Land and Water Fund, with support from the Attorney General’s office EEG grant, CTNC, Pigeon River Fund, and more. Add this new park to your must-hike list.
  • Salmon Creek – Site X
    This site could hold clues to North Carolina’s oldest mystery, the lost colony of Roanoke. In 2017, NCLWF awarded a grant to the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust to assist with the purchase of 995 acres at the confluence of Salmon Creek and the Chowan River. The Salmon Creek tract is steeped in North Carolina history and could provide clues about much of our state’s past. Preliminary surveys indicate the presence of 18 different archaeological sites throughout the property. Learn more.
  • New River
    With funding from the NCLWF, New River Conservancy works with landowners in Alleghany, Ashe, and Watauga counters to replant and maintain stream-side environments. In Ashe County, Greater Lansing Area Development will restore over half a mile of the actively eroding streambanks of Big Horse Creek. Together, these projects will protect and enhance the trout streams and outstanding resource waters of the New River. Learn more.

Invest in Conservation for North Carolina’s Future

Our state’s conservation needs are not one-and-done. The Land for Tomorrow coalition is working with state leaders to build on the foundation of conservation funding. Every generation deserves to have healthy functioning land and water that are not only beautiful but also provide clean air and water.

We commend our governor and legislators for passing a budget in 2021 that prioritized land and water conservation. Our state leaders put our parks, game lands, forests, trails, and farms at the top of the priority list and we are thankful for that. This historic spending allocation was the highest since the 2008 recession and will benefit people and nature for generations to come.

Land and water are North Carolina’s most important economic assets. The four engines of North Carolina’s economy – agriculture, tourism, forestry, and the military – depend on natural and working lands and clean water. Protecting these vital natural resources is essential to ensure these economic drivers will continue to flourish and provide jobs for North Carolinians.

Our state’s conservation trust funds ensure that the North Carolina Land and Water Trust Fund (NCLWF), Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF), and the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund (ADFPTF) are fully funded to be the safeguards for our state. These funds enable conservation groups to continue working with state agencies to protect North Carolina’s valuable natural resources, ensuring that both current and future generations will continue to benefit from all our land has to offer.

In 2022, we are asking for our legislators to invest in our state’s future. With necessary increases in funding to the conservation trust funds, we will all be able to protect our state’s clean water, parks and recreation land, and farmland. Our state legislators alone determine the fate of the conservation trust funds and important legislation that helps our state thrive. Forward planning is what we’re asking for today.

Land and Water Fund
Increase recurring funds to:

  • $25 million recurring in FY22-23
  • $35 million recurring in FY23-24
  • $45 million recurring in FY24-25

Parks and Recreation Trust Fund
Increase recurring funds to:

  • $25 million recurring in FY22-23
  • $35 million recurring in FY23-24
  • $45 million recurring in FY24-25

Additional Funding for Conservation Projects
Non-recurring funds to LWF for military projects and to help match the FY 2023 ENC Sentinel Landscape REPI Challenge proposal to the US Dept of Defense

Heirs Property
The Land for Tomorrow Coalition supports HB 367/S363, Uniform Partition of Heirs Property

Conservation Tax Credit
The Land for Tomorrow Coalition supports H323, Military Readiness and Rural Resilience Act

Restore Dedicated Conservation Funding
Adopt House Bill 372/Senate Bill 354 “Restore Funding/State Conservation Purposes”

Trails Funding
Land for Tomorrow support recommendations from the Great Trails State Coalition

State Parks
The Land for Tomorrow Coalition supports recurring funds to NC State Parks to open & operate new facilities and land funded by the Connect NC Bond, PARTF stateside LWCF and other sources as recommended by the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources

Game Lands
The Land for Tomorrow Coalition supports recurring funds to NC Wildlife Resources Commission to manage new and expanded game lands as recommended by the WRC

Forests
The Land for Tomorrow Coalition supports recurring funds for NC Forest Service to manage state forests as recommended by the Commissioner of Agriculture

Help us make sure that our land and water is protected for everyone.

Ways you can get involved:

  • Share on social media – Share a photo or video about the land you’ve enjoyed and want to protect using #land4tomorrow on Twitter or Instagram.
  • Ask your friends to join – Encourage your friends to make a video.
  • Thank your legislator – Let them know we appreciate their support of NC land and water

Cooper’s Budget Works to Protect Our State’s Land and Water

The Land for Tomorrow coalition praised Governor Cooper’s proposed budget, which increases appropriations to the state’s conservation trust funds and provides additional funding for building resilient communities.

“It’s clear that our citizens want to protect our land and water, from the coast to the mountains. We applaud Governor Cooper for responding to that desire with a sound budget proposal,” said Bill Holman, NC State Director for The Conservation Fund and chair of the Land for Tomorrow Executive Committee. “Land and water conservation are important to North Carolina’s economy. In the last budget, we saw support for conservation on both sides of the aisle. This is a good beginning for another budget that protects our state’s natural resources for our communities and allows tourism and agriculture to thrive. We look forward to working with the N.C. General Assembly on a final budget that supports protecting our land and water.”

The highlights of Governor Cooper’s budget for natural and working lands and building more climate resilience:

  • Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF): Provides an additional $3,757,116 recurring and $20 million nonrecurring to the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) for projects in state parks, the development and renovation of local parks, and beach access. In FY 2022-23, the total funding is $40 million.
  • North Carolina Land and Water Fund (NCLWF): Provides $6,842,470 recurring and $20 million nonrecurring to DNCR to support NCLWF grants to protect and restore the state’s land and water resources, preserve military buffers, restore degraded streams, and develop and improve stormwater treatment. In FY 2022-23, the total funding is $40 million.
  • Peatland and Pocosins Conservation and Inventory: Provides $10 million nonrecurring to DNCR for peatlands and pocosins acquisition and restoration to reduce carbon emissions and wildfire risk, provide flood resilience, and improve water quality. DNCR’s Natural Heritage Program will inventory Coastal Plain wetlands not previously included in natural heritage inventories to inform acquisition and restoration efforts.
  • Resilient Communities Grant Program and Resiliency Staff: Provides $762,825 recurring and $10 million nonrecurring to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the NC Office of Recovery and Resiliency (NCORR) within the Department of Public Safety (DPS) for core resiliency staff, to expand the program to additional communities, and to provide grants, enabling regions and local governments to reduce flood risk and promote long-term resilience.
  • Swine Floodplain Buyout Program: Provides $18 million nonrecurring funding to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) to purchase permanent conservation easements on properties currently used for swine production that are within the 100-year floodplain.
  • Forest Development Program: Provides $2 million in one-time funding to DACS for cost-share assistance to NC landowners to improve forest management on private lands through landowner outreach, tree plants, and technical support to adopt and follow best practice management plans.
  • Coastal Habitat Assessment Program: Provides $720,526 recurring and $122,500 nonrecurring to DEQ to establish the Coastal Habitat Assessment Program. This program will assess coastal habitats through site mapping, vegetation assessments, and observation of wetland changes over time.

READ THE FULL BUDGET HERE: https://www.osbm.nc.gov/media/2575/open

Land for Tomorrow is a statewide coalition of community leaders, conservation, and wildlife organizations, and parks and recreation advocates with a common goal: increasing land and water conservation in North Carolina.

Conservation Trust Funds Bring Success

Spring is a great time to get outside and enjoy the beauty of the North Carolina outdoors. Here are a few great places to visit thanks to grants North Carolina conservation trust funds.

Mainspring Conservation Trust
  • You can’t go wrong with a springtime hike in the mountains! Visitors can take advantage of the most extensive trail system found on any Mainspring property. The Tessentee Bottomland Preserve is a stop on the NC Birding Trail with the preserve’s bird list at 129 species and butterfly list at 56 species and counting.

    VISIT: 2249 Hickory Knoll Road, Franklin, NC 28734

    Learn more about this beautiful slice of North Carolina history.

  • Spring means getting ready to dip our paddles in North Carolina’s waterways! Have you checked out the Deep River Paddle Trail and the Haw River Natural Area? Both of these areas greatly benefitted from the conservation trust funds.

    Learn more about these two natural beauties:

  • Asutsi means “bridge” in the Cherokee language. This short, easy trail (0.4 miles) offers a good family hike with a stream to splash in and rocks to clamber.
    CTNC

    VISIT: The Asutsi trailhead is on U.S. 221, 0.6 miles south of the U.S. 221 intersection with Holloway Mountain Road.

    The Conservation Trust for North Carolina recently closed on the Florence Boyd Home/Asutsi Trailhead Property thanks to funding from the NC Land and Water Fund and support from Fred and Alice Stanback. This protection will help keep this trail accessible for generations to come. Read more about the area.

The 2021 NC Budget will Benefit People & Nature for Generations to Come

Thank you to North Carolina’s governor and legislators for passing a budget that prioritizes land and water conservation. This historic spending allocation for land and water conservation is the highest since the 2008 recession and will benefit people and nature for generations to come. When additional resilience money is factored in, it represents a benchmark for conservation funding.

“I’ve been at this a long time and this budget is one for the ages,” says Bill Holman, NC State Director of the Conservation Fund. “This is great news for nature and for people. Game lands, parks, trails, and communities that are threatened by flooding will all benefit.”

In a year with surplus funding, our state leaders put our state’s parks, game lands, trails, and farms at the top of the priority list and we are thankful for that. This is a strong boost for conservation funding that we can build on in future years.

Our state’s conservation needs are not one-and-done. Land for Tomorrow coalition members will work with our leaders to build on this foundation. Every generation deserves to have a beautiful North Carolina.

Thank you to the governor and our legislators for funding:

Land and Water Fund

  • $62.7 million for FY21-22 and $64.7 million for FY22-23
  • $15 million in nonrecurring funds in FY21-22 for floodplain projects, bringing the total for all NCLWF projects in FY21-22 to $77.7 million.

Parks and Recreation Trust Fund

  • $61.7 million in FY21-22 and $61.7 million in FY22-23
  • $10 million in FY21-22 specifically for local parks projects for persons with disabilities

Trails Funding

  • Creation and funding of the new Complete the Trails fund at $29,250,000, as well as the new Trails Coordinator position

Farmland Preservation

  • $12,970,000 in FY21-22 and $12,970,000 in FY22-23.

State Parks & Sewer Projects

  • $40 million for water and sewer projects in State Parks
  • Fully funds the operating requirements for State Parks that have been recently expanded or improved: $2.1 million recurring and $877,000 nonrecurring in FY21-22, and increased to $3.5 million recurring in FY22-23.
  • The authorization of two new State Park units: the Roanoke River Paddle Trail and Bakers Lake State Natural Area.

Some Highlighted Projects

  • $12.2 million for Pisgah View State Park ($9 million in FY21-22 and $3.2 million in FY22-23)
  • $150,000 to Blue Ridge Conservancy for the Watauga Paddle Trail
  • $200,000 to the Foothills Conservancy for Oak Hill Community Park
  • $4 million for Vade Mecum at Hanging Rock State Park
  • $550,000 for Mayo River State Park land purchase
  • $500,000 to BRC for Middle Fork Greenway
  • $50,000 for Northern Peaks Trail
  • $4 million for Pilot Mountain Bean Shoals Trail
  • $3.1 million for Rendezvous Mountain Park, which will be a satellite annex of Stone Mountain SP
  • $3 million for the Wilderness Gateway State Trail

Resilience Priorities
As noted above the resilience package contains $15 million for the Land and Water Fund. In addition, it includes:

  • $20 million to the Division of Mitigation Services within DEQ for the creation of a “statewide Flood Resiliency Blueprint”
  • $15 million for a Disaster Relief and Mitigation Fund at DPS
  • $15 million for a Transportation Infrastructure Resilience Fund at DPS
  • $25 million to Golden Leaf for a Small Project Mitigation and Recovery Program
  • $40 million for a Coastal Storm Damage Mitigation Fund at DEQ
  • $4 million for a Dam Safety Emergency Fund at DEQ
  • $3.5 million to DEQ for specific DMS pilot projects
  • $1.15 million to DEQ’s Division of Coastal Management for the Resilient Coastal Communities Program
  • $300,000 to DEQ’s Division of Coastal Management for 2 time-limited, full-time positions to staff the Resilient Coastal Communities Program

A Great Outdoor Thank You

Land for Tomorrow would like to thank our leaders at the national level for their support of America’s best outdoor places.

North Carolina played a central role in securing the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act. This was the biggest bipartisan bill funding our natural resources in decades. This landmark conservation legislation will spend $1.9 billion a year for five years to maintain our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and recreation areas. It uses royalties from offshore oil and natural gas to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund to invest in conservation, sportsmen’s access, and recreation opportunities in every county in every state in the country. This means more land to hunt, fish, hike and camp.  Plus, more access points to launch a boat or take a swim in our lakes and rivers.

The North Carolina Congressional delegation was critical in getting the bill to the desk of President Donald Trump for enactment. Senators Richard Burr and Tom Tillis and Representatives Patrick McHenry and G.K. Butterfield provided crucial leadership in supporting this landmark bill, and Representatives Budd, Foxx, Murphy,  Price, and Adams all supported final passage.

Now, our leaders in the North Carolina legislature have a chance to bring this spirit of protection for the great outdoors to our state. With robust funding of the NC Land and Water Fund and the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund in the 2021 budget, legislators get a chance to continue protecting our state’s natural resources and our strong outdoor recreation economy.

While 2020 saw many closures and restrictions due to the pandemic, one thing wasn’t restricted by COVID-19: the North Carolina outdoors. We saw a record number of visitors – 19.9 million in 2020 – to North Carolina State Parks as we rediscovered our state’s bounty, from mountains to coast. That was 400,000 more visitors than any other year on record.  North Carolinians want these resources protected. We NEED them protected.

It’s our turn to continue this legacy of protection. Land for Tomorrow hopes to gain the support of our legislators to ensure we always have these resources to share.

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy Announces Roan Highlands Protection

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) announced today that they have signed a letter of intent to accept the donation of approximately 7,500 acres of land in the Roan Highlands landscape from a conservation philanthropist. The tract lies within the southern end of the planning boundary of the Yellow Mountain State Natural Area, a special conservation area designated by the NC General Assembly in 2008 to protect the exceptional nat­ural features found there.

The donation consists of dozens of separate-but-contiguous land holdings rising to 5,300′ in elevation straddling the border of Avery and Mitchell counties in Western North Carolina. It supports numerous threatened and endangered plant and animal species and features some of the most extraordinary scenery in the eastern U.S. The property includes the largest American Chestnut restoration project in the country, extensive boulder fields, rich coves, old growth forests, six waterfalls, and a system of rare heath-balds.

Transfer of the gift is expected to be completed in the next year. SAHC will own the land and manage it as a nature preserve. SAHC staff will continue ongoing use of the land for scientific study in collaboration with the donor. SAHC intends to host guided hikes on the property after the transfer is completed and a man­agement plan has been finalized.

“This is the largest single gift in SAHC’s history, and the largest gift of land to a land trust that I’m aware of” said Carl Silverstein, executive director of the land trust. “As we watch so much of our region get carved into sub-divisions, strategic acquisition of large parcels of land is increasingly important — and increasingly hard to accomplish. In twenty years this gift might be one of the few sites in Western North Carolina that still looks like it looked one hundred years ago, or one thousand years ago.”

“These parcels include some of the most sought-after conservation acres in the eastern United States, including over 100 miles of pristine creeks and streams. We really are honored to be entrusted with the responsibility to steward this vast mountain complex,” Silverstein added.

Even before his first acquisition here in 2012, longtime SAHC member Tim Sweeney envisioned assembling these parcels into a unified block of land with the intention of conserving the entire mountain ecosystem. With this gift the philanthropist’s dream has become a reality for the benefit of future generations.

“This project is a conservationist’s dream come true,” said SAHC Roan Stewardship Director Marquette Crockett. “Pristine roadless land that has not been tim­bered over is almost impossible to find in the Southern Appalachians in 2021, but this assemblage contains so much that we value, from old growth forests to high-elevation open areas in an undisturbed condition. My phone will ring off the hook from biologists who want to visit and study this unparalleled preserve. We look forward to welcoming them to the mountain.”

SAHC Senior Advisor Jay Leutze is excited about the benefits the donated land will provide for surrounding communities. “I can’t wait to take local scout troops and church groups on hikes here and to invite school kids out to learn about how healthy forests clean our drinking water for free and how migratory songbirds fly between the Roan Highlands and Central America each year,” Leutze said. “This property is the back yard for a lot of people who treasure it for the clear air and scenic views it provides. In a world that is constantly changing our commitment is to keep this place functioning as a healthy ecosystem forever.”

Read more on the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy site.

Needs & Successes of the Conservation Trust Funds

Across North Carolina, conservation trust funds and Land for Tomorrow coalition members are working to protect our state’s lands.

  • The Nature Conservancy and the Army have worked together over the past two decades to protect more than 23,000 acres near Fort Bragg. Learn how this work is preserving one of the world’s most significant habitats: the longleaf pine forest. Find out more about how this effort is providing public lands for all to enjoy.
  • Outstanding scenery and outdoor recreation are key to Western North Carolina’s economy. That’s why the North Carolina General Assembly created Pisgah View Ranch State Park in Buncombe County. Learn how this work preserves an iconic view while driving the economy.
  • Providing game lands that are accessible to all parts of North Carolina are important. Learn why the permanent protection of the Tuckertown Game Lands in Davidson and Montgomery counties is vital to our state.

Click on the images below to download the full stories.

                            

 

 

 

Join Us for Lobby Day 2021

While 2020 saw many closures and restrictions due to the pandemic, one thing wasn’t restricted by COVID-19: the North Carolina outdoors. We saw a record number of visitors – 19.9 million in 2020 – to North Carolina State Parks as we rediscovered our state’s bounty, from mountains to coast. That was 400,000 more visitors than any other year on record.

The week of March 22, we’re recognizing the role that land plays in every aspect of our lives, from recreation to economic development. We hope you’ll join us in celebrating and protecting this land now and for the future.

A new study by RTI International shows that the time is now for increasing public land and water conservation funding. North Carolina is the eighth fastest-growing state in the nation and that projected growth will lead to the loss of 2 million acres of undeveloped land in the next 30 years. This loss affects not only our options for outdoor recreation but flood protection, buffering of mission-critical military bases and more.

Our state’s conservation trust funds ensure that the North Carolina Land and Water Trust Fund (NCLWF), Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF), and the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund (ADFPTF) are fully funded to be safeguards for our beloved natural spaces. These funds enable conservation groups to continue working with our state partners to protect North Carolina’s valuable natural resources, ensuring that both current and future generations will continue to enjoy and benefit from all our land has to offer.

Our state legislators alone determine the conservation trust funds. Every year, they decide how much is allocated to protect our state’s clean water, parks and recreation land and farmland preservation. That work is more important than ever as more and more people enjoy our state’s lands. An increase in usage means an increase in our need to ensure the resilience and protection of our lands. At its peak in 2008, the trust funds awarded more than $155 million. Last year, only $29.9 million was awarded.

Now is the perfect time to invest in our state. North Carolina is ready to welcome people back to our parks as a safe way to engage with the world around us, bringing tourism back and boosting our economy. Help us make sure that this land is protected for everyone.

Ways you can get involved:

  • Email your legislator – Share your reasons for wanting to protect the conservation trust funds.
  • Share on social media – Share a photo or video about the land you’ve enjoyed and want to protect using #land4tomorrow.
  • Ask your friends to join – Encourage your friends to make a video.
  • Thank your legislators – Let them know we appreciate their support of NC land. Find your legislator here: http://www.land4tomorrow.org/act.