Conservation Champion: Senator Andy Wells

Senator Andy Wells has been an avid supporter of legislation that benefits conservation funding in North Carolina. Land for Tomorrow asked Senator Wells a few questions about the importance of land protection.

1. Where is your favorite natural/outdoor place in North Carolina and why is it important to you?

Jacob’s Fork River in Catawba County is my favorite natural place in North Carolina. It’s still pristine after the brief journey from South Mountain State Park – less than an hour from Charlotte – still undiscovered. I’m lucky, it’s 20 minutes from my Hickory office to a more peaceful world.

2. What do you see are the immediate and long-term benefits of investing in land protection?

Land protection, water quality, storm resiliency, and mitigation all go hand-in-hand, and the combined benefits add up to help local communities. Addressing all these holistically will preserve more land at less cost to taxpayers.

3. How can land protection have an overall economic impact on North Carolina’s constituents and state economy through the tourism, agricultural and farming, and military divisions?

Too often, governments distort free markets. Bad zoning policy or bad tax policy do that. Bad policies can be the result of special interest lobbying or good old-fashioned poor judgement. And they can encourage landowners to make choices based on short-term profits. Our ancestors knew that their children would inherit land only as good as they passed along. Preservation is a way to balance the scales and replace short-term with long-term thinking.

4. Why is conservation funding important to your constituents? How do you feel the investment in land can generate a direct, positive impact in your respective district?

As Chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources Committee, my responsibilities cover the state – from protecting family farms to local parks or major rivers. Taking time away from digital computer screens and enjoying the nature created for us by God is a blessing we should all appreciate.

5. What are your suggestions as to how community members, local and state government officials, and land conservation groups can work together to support land conservation in North Carolina?

Agree to a long-term and fair goal for communities across the state, have a plan to work toward that goal and execute the plan.

6. What do you see as the biggest threat facing North Carolina’s land conservation efforts?

A fragmented bureaucratic structure that fails to spend taxpayers’ money wisely and efficiently.

The Conservation Champion series intends to highlight North Carolina legislators dedicated to protecting our state’s natural resources and display why funding conservation projects is important for our state’s development.