Investing in Western North Carolina Communities

North Carolina’s conservation trust funds are an investment in local business and tourism in the western region of our state.


Protecting Western North Carolina’s Most Important Economic Assets

Land and water are North Carolina’s most important economic assets. Western North Carolina’s major economic engines – agriculture, tourism, outdoor recreation and a booming local artisan food and drink industry – all depend on land and water conservation.

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. Clean water is also key for tourism and farming. Fly fishing is a popular activity in western NC, as are water recreation activities in the many mountain streams. For just trout fishing, the estimated economic impact in the mountain region is $334.4 million, supporting nearly 3,200 jobs.

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. Buncombe County was among the top five North Carolina counties for tourism expenditures in 2018 with $1.2 billion in visitor spending. North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains are the highest on the East Coast and parks, trails, and scenic areas are visited year-round for hiking, water sports, snow sports, fly fishing, and more. Protected lands and pristine water keep people coming back.

Farmland – protecting working family farms to support the state’s $91.8 billion agricultural industry. Agriculture remains an important part of Western North Carolina’s economy. Thousands of small family farms raise livestock, grow orchards, and practice forestry. North Carolina is second in the U.S. for Christmas tree farming, and many of these farms are in the western part of the state.

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 more than $293 million in local projects that support rural economic development and the creation of parks, and natural areas. These investments preserve Western North Carolina’s iconic natural features so our state continues to be a wonderful place to visit, 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.