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.

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.

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

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.

Land for Tomorrow Urges Increased Conservation Funding Following Release of SB 257, Appropriations Act of 2017

Land for Tomorrow thanks the General Assembly for continuing to fund the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Parks & Recreation Trust Fund, and Agricultural Development & Farmland Preservation Trust Fund in the Appropriations Act of 2017.

However, Land for Tomorrow is concerned that in a year of budget surplus, the General Assembly is appropriating fewer dollars for conservation, which more than 70 percent of North Carolinians broadly support.

The Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF) and Parks & Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) are both appropriated fewer dollars in 2017 than in 2016. While the budget does increase funding for the Agricultural Development & Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, the funding levels are inadequate to match US Department of Defense funds to protect our military bases from encroachment and to match US Department of Agriculture funds to protect and restore farmland in Western North Carolina and the Piedmont, where development pressures are the greatest.

  • The General Assembly appropriated $22.4 million to CWMTF in 2016-17 and is appropriating $18.3 million in 2017-18 (a 18% decrease).
  • The General Assembly appropriated $22.7 million to PARTF in 2016-17 and $19.7 million in 2017-18 (a 13% decrease).

Land for Tomorrow will continue to work with legislative leaders to protect and restore water quality, preserve family farms that produce local and fresh food, to maintain the training mission of our military bases, and to support the $28 billion outdoor recreation industry in NC.

135 local governments, conservation organizations, and state agencies requested nearly $68 million from CWMTF in 2017. Those organizations would provide almost $165 million in matching funds, more than doubling the state’s investment. Sixty-four local governments requested $19 million from PARTF in 2017 and provided $51 million in matching funds, matched nearly three times.

Earlier this year, the US Department of Defense awarded NC a nearly $10 million Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Challenge Grant. The State has to match these funds dollar for dollar or they cannot be used in North Carolina.

Also earlier this year the US Department of Agriculture awarded Blue Ridge Forever, a coalition of the 10 land trusts in Western North Carolina, $8 million to protect and restore farmland in Western North Carolina. These funds must also be matched by state and private funds.

Land for Tomorrow will continue to work with legislators in the 2018 Short Session to improve funding levels for the trust funds to adequately meet the demand of conservation projects that benefit North Carolina communities and citizens.

Post date: June 21, 2017

Land for Tomorrow Coalition Gathers Local Legislators for Legislative Forum

Conservation Organizations Highlighted the Economic Benefits of State Funding

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 mid-coastal region. The region’s major economic assets – agriculture, the military, tourism, hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation – 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 – have invested $184 million in Jones, Carteret, Craven, Pender, and Onslow County projects that support economic development and preserve the region’s unique natural features.

Senator Harry Brown, Representative Phil Shepard, and Representative Bob Muller attended the event to hear from local conservation organizations, park and recreation supporters, and landowners who partner with the trust funds to do projects that benefit the region. NC Coastal Land Trust Point showcased purchasing farmland easements to conserve the family-owned Guthrie Farm and provide a buffer for the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point. The Nature Conservancy shared how its partnership with the Marine Corps conserved more than 44,000 acres around Camp Lejeune. State Park officials talked about the state’s investment of nearly $6.3 million at Hammocks Beach State Park.

Former State Representative Carolyn Justice moderated the forum – noting that land and water conservation is good for all North Carolinians. “What is more important to our quality of life than clean drinking water, clean air, thriving farms and forests, places to hunt, fish, and view wildlife, while still being conspicuous of jobs and a sustainable economy,” she asked.

“Land for Tomorrow appreciates the support these legislators have shown for conservation projects, but the demand for great projects exceeds available resources,” said Edgar Miller, Conservation Trust for North Carolina Government Relations Director. “The goal of these round tables is to educate legislators on the importance of these funds of and how conservation projects benefit coastal communities, the local economy and their citizens.”

Some of the issues 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.
  • Military buffers support North Carolina’s $66 billion economic impact of the military by preventing incompatible development.
  • 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 maintain the training mission of our military bases, to preserve family farms that produce local and fresh food, and to support the $28 billion outdoor recreation industry in NC.

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Land for Tomorrow is a coalition of land and water conservation organizations, including American Rivers, Audubon NC, Catawba Lands Conservancy, Conservation Trust for NC, The Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy, NC Recreation & Park Association, Triangle Land Conservancy, and NC Wildlife Federation. The coalition’s goal is to boost public support for land and water conservation across North Carolina. The North Carolina General Assembly sets funding levels for the trust funds.

Post date: November 6, 2017

Proposed Increase to Land and Water Conservation Funding a Win for NC

The Land for Tomorrow coalition commends Governor Cooper for providing increased, reliable funding for land and water conservation in his recommended budget. Restoring a portion of the real estate conveyance tax to the state’s conservation trust funds as it was originally intended will help provide stable funding for the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, and the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund.

The Governor’s budget proposal aligns very well with Land for Tomorrow’s goals to increase recurring appropriations and re-establish a dedicated revenue stream to stabilize the trust funds, by dedicating a portion of the state’s share of the deed stamp tax.

The dollars appropriated by the state and granted by the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, and the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund are leveraged dollar for dollar to build a healthy and thriving economy for North Carolinians. Continuing to invest in the state’s conservation trust funds is critical to continuing to establish North Carolina as an exceptional place to work, live and raise a family.

The members of Land for Tomorrow commend the Governor’s recommendation to add an additional nonrecurring $10 Million to the ADFPTF to help the state match federal US Department of Agricultural and Department of Defense farmland preservation funding; and allocate 35 percent of the apportioned Deed Stamp Tax proceeds to CWMTF and PARTF and 15 percent to the ADFPT and NCHTF, equating to an additional $6.55M each to CWMTF and PARTF and $2.8 M to the ADFPTF in recurring revenues.

We look forward to the coming short session where we will work with members of the General Assembly to establish an amended budget that continues its support of strong investment in conservation in support of the agriculture, military, tourism, hunting and fishing, and a $37.6 billion outdoor recreation sector that supports 260,000 North Carolina jobs.

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Post date: May 10, 2018

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.

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Post date: June 6, 2018