Investing in Coastal Communities

North Carolina’s conservation trust funds contribute to conservation of wetlands, natural areas, parks, and military buffers throughout coastal communities.


Protecting the coast’s most important economic assets

On the coast, clean water is vital for all people who live and visit the more than 12,000 miles of coastal shoreline in North Carolina. The tourism economy – restaurants, boat and kayak rentals, local stores, etc. – relies on clean water for recreation and to draw folks to our state’s beautiful beaches every year. Commercial fishermen need clean water to make their livelihoods and to provide fresh fish locally and across the U.S. Oyster aquaculture is a growing industry on the state’s coast that relies on the state’s trust funds to ensure clean water.

Investing in our economy and quality of life

At every level, sportsmen, conservation organizations, the military, communities, private landowners, local governments and the state work together to ensure our natural resources support a vibrant economy by conserving:

Watersheds and stream buffers – preventing polluted runoff, reducing the cost of water treatment for local governments, saving customers money. In communities tied to the water, this is critical for commercial and recreational fishermen, boaters, surfers, farmers, local businesses, restaurant owners, and all folks who live in and visit the coast.

Game lands and estuaries – critical to hunting, commercial and sport fishing, and a $28 billion outdoors industry. North Carolina’s commercial fishing industry caught 54 million pounds of finfish and shellfish in 2017, valued at $97 million.

Parks, trails, and scenic areas – boosting the state’s $20 billion tourism economy and enhancing North Carolina’s quality of life and ability to attract new families and businesses. The coast’s beaches and wetlands draw visitors from far and wide every year. Coastal counties — including Dare, New Hanover, Brunswick, and Carteret — consistently rank in the top 15 counties for tourism expenditures and it’s because of North Carolinians who ensure the coast’s best assets remain pristine and beautiful.

Farmland – protecting working family farms to support the state’s $91.8 billion agricultural industry. Aquaculture is a growing industry on the coast, especially shellfish aquaculture.

Military buffers – supporting the $66 billion military’s economic impact by ensuring nearby lands aren’t developed. In 2019, the trust funds distributed more than $8 million to coastal counties for working farms and conservation lands that help the military carry out its mission.

Partnerships between government agencies, conservation groups, and private landowners work to protect our natural resources, support major economic sectors, and strengthen our local communities. The value of these partnerships demonstrates the cooperative spirit of all North Carolinians working together to preserve the past while making our future brighter.

Demand for trust fund grants far exceeds available resources. More than 70 percent of registered voters support restoring state funding for the conservation trust funds to $100 million to protect water quality, conserve working farms, and preserve parkland and historic sites.

North Carolina’s conservation trust funds have invested $184 million in the coastal region to support economic development and preserve unique natural features so our state continues to be a wonderful place to work, play, and raise a family.

About The Trust Funds

N.C. Land and Water Fund

The N.C. Land and Water Fund is a primary source of grants allowing hundreds of local governments, state agencies, and conservation nonprofits to address water pollution, protect clean water, and conserve lands that are ecologically, culturally, or historically significant.

  • CWMTF has protected more than 460,000 acres of watershed and nearly 5,000 miles of stream buffers.
  • In the past two years, CWMTF awarded nearly $50 million in grants to communities and conservation organizations.

Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF)

The Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) supports land acquisition and improvements within the state’s park system. PARTF is the main source of funding for local parkland acquisitions, facility improvements, and public beach and estuarine access.

  • PARTF has provided more than $200 million for 850 local park projects and funded more than $500 million in projects since 1994.

Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund

The Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund (ADFPTF) supports the state’s agricultural economy by funding programs that support working family farms through conservation easements on threatened farmland and agricultural development projects. ADFPTF dollars also match the Department of Defense funds to protect farms and working forest near military facilities.

  • ADFPTF has protected more than 22,000 acres of family farms to date.