The Land for Tomorrow Coalition today released its 2015 Conservation Yearbook as members of the group came to Raleigh to educate state legislators about the need to increase public conservation funding. Land for Tomorrow is a statewide coalition of community leaders, conservation and outdoors organizations, businesses, and local governments with a common goal: increasing land and water conservation in North Carolina. The coalition works to ensure that the state’s conservation trust funds – Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF), Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) and the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund (ADFPTF) are well funded.

In addition to publishing county-by-county totals of state conservation funding, the Yearbook features a number of people from across the state who make the case that land and water conservation is crucial to a strong economy and healthy communities.

Former legislator Ruth Samuelson, a Republican who represented Mecklenburg County for 8 years, says that recreational opportunities provided by land and water conservation are important to public health and economic health. “The younger generation of employees wants open space and water access for recreational purposes,” she explains. “The retiring population is also attracted to green space when looking to relocate in new communities. Both are good for our economy.”

Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst says providing recreational opportunities are vital to attracting the best talent. “Our biggest competition isn’t for our customers, it’s for the best talent,” he says. “The best and the brightest have their choice of where to work. We are finding that quality of life is a major determinant of where top talent chooses to live and work. I am constantly asked by people we are recruiting about the recreational opportunities in North Carolina.”

The yearbook includes testimonials from farmers, foresters, members of the military, hunters and anglers.  John Robbins, a developer who chairs the North Carolina Wildlife Federation’s Board of Directors, says that protecting land and water is better for the bottom line than restoring degraded land and water. “People fail to appreciate the cost of degradation – water pollution, construction runoff, and loss of critical habitat,” he explains. “If we fail to conserve, then we are imposing additional costs on ourselves and future generations. These costs are very real.”

The Land for Tomorrow coalition asked legislators to increase funding for the state’s three conservation trust funds in each year of the biennial budget – $25 million for the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, $25 million for the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, and $5 million for the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund.