Through the Mountain Revolving Loan Fund, CTNC allocates small grants to preserve critical areas of land protected and stewarded by our land trust partners.
Through the Mountain Revolving Loan Fund (MRLF), CTNC works with land trusts to conserve land in Western North Carolina. In addition to providing critical bridge loans to eligible land trusts, CTNC’s MRLF provides small grants to fill funding gaps that enable completion of projects that preserve the ecosystems and cultural sites along the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The CTNC Mountain Revolving Loan Fund has two significant benefits for our partners:
It provides crucial bridge financing with minimal interest to land trusts in Western North Carolina to purchase conservation land and easements. As loans are repaid, the money becomes available to re-lend.
A percentage of the balance of the loan fund is given out each year in grant awards. Grants of up to $25,000 are not required to be paid back. CTNC’s grants help cover transaction-related costs, land management, project administration, and long-term stewardship; often the most difficult project funding to raise.
This year, CTNC awarded grants to four land trusts totaling over $90,500. We’re proud to support the costs associated with ensuring that 516 acres of land will be protected in perpetuity. We look forward to more opportunities to work in partnership with key stakeholders to protect and steward this living legacy.
The land trusts that were awarded grant funds by CTNC during the current cycle include:
Blue Ridge Land Conservancy
Highlands-Cashier Land Trust
Mainspring Conservation Trust
The eight properties that will be protected by our partner land trusts offer ecological, agricultural, recreational, and cultural-historic benefits to communities of Western NC.
Along with the conservation values of these properties, each contains crucial ecological and agriculture benefits to the local landscape and communities of Western NC.
CTNC’s support of statewide conservation initiatives is made possible through generous donations from CTNC supporters. Your generous support enables us to carry out our mission to foster community resilience in Western NC and throughout our amazing state.
CTNC is proud to welcome Cynthia Satterfield as the new Executive Director of our organization.
Cynthia joins us with a strong background in community-driven conservation. Her dozen years at the Tar River Land Conservancy as the Director of Development and at the Eno River Association as Director of Development and Outreach ground her in the land conservation work central to CTNC. Her most recent role as State Director of the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club expands her strategic leadership skills. Cynthia holds an English and Anthropology Bachelor’s Degree, Master of Business Administration, Certificate in Non-Profit Management and Equity Training.
Cynthia’s personal commitment to CTNC’s values of collaboration, boldness, inclusiveness, compassion, authenticity, openness, and curiosity inspired confidence in the CTNC Board.
“Cynthia’s personal commitment to CTNC’s values of collaboration, boldness, inclusiveness, compassion, authenticity, openness, and curiosity inspired confidence in the CTNC Board”, said CTNC Board President Brandon A. Robinson. “We are fully confident that the wealth of experience Cynthia brings will lead CTNC to new growth and new opportunity, making it possible to fulfill our mission of building resilient, just communities by delivering conservation solutions across the state.”
Cynthia will join CTNC officially on December 11th as Chris embarks on his retirement journey. We are excited to begin this new chapter as an organization and enter the new year as a strong-knit group of staff, board members, donors and supporters.
The beauty and unique ecology of Bald Head Island needs to be protected. The abundant nesting sea turtle population, vital maritime evergreen forest, and coastal ecosystems need specialized care to ensure they survive for generations. This summer, CTNC and partners on the island teamed up to develop a conservation prioritization tool that will inform how to deploy future work.
The Bald Head Island Conservation Prioritization Tool, developed by Hanna Bliska, a CTNC 2023 Stanback Summer Fellow, is a model that identifies individual properties on the island with the highest conservation value. This will enable Smith Island Land Trust and its partners to focus efforts and limited resources on properties with the most significant conservation impact.
To make the tool come to life, Hannah collaborated with CTNC Bald Head Island conservation partners and CTNC staff to build the prioritization tool in ArcGIS. This tool is inspired by CTNC’s Blue Ridge Parkway prioritization model that we use to streamline efforts and strategic goals. The plan focuses on protecting undeveloped land on Bald Head Island. The model has incorporated a variety of ecological data, including data on coastal and terrestrial resilience to climate change developed by The Nature Conservancy.
Undeveloped acreage is critical to both natural and human success on the island. Beyond protecting vital forested and coastal areas, these conserved acres become buffers to soften the impacts of climate change on Bald Head Island. The maps inform SILT’s communications with landowners and educate islanders about conservation opportunities. This will, in turn, ensure a resilient future for the communities that call Bald Head Island home.
The Bald Head Island Conservation Prioritization Tool further demonstrates CTNC’s commitment to creating sustainable programs in collaboration with partners to utilize data-driven approaches to conservation. SILT will maintain the tool to update it as more conservation progress is made on the island. Through partnerships like this, CTNC is helping North Carolina build resilience in the face of climate change.
Thank you to the development team – Hanna Bliska, Rusty Painter, Mary Alice Holley, and Emma Childs. Funding for the project was provided by SILT and Hannah’s time with CTNC was made possible by the Stanback Fellowship Program at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University.
Funding Critical Land Conservation in Western North Carolina
Through the Mountain Revolving Loan Fund, CTNC awards small grants to land trusts conserving critical lands in Western North Carolina.
From direct assistance with land protection to awarding small grants, CTNC is proud to work alongside and support the efforts of our land trust partners throughout North Carolina. Each year, CTNC offers low-interest loans, and awards small grants through our Mountain Revolving Loan Fund to facilitate critical conservation projects spearheaded by local land trusts in Western North Carolina.
The purpose of the Mountain Revolving Loan Fund (MRLF) is to provide bridge financing with minimal interest to North Carolina land trusts for the purchase of conservation land and easements. This fund was established with the help of a generous donor with a passion for conservation in Western North Carolina. A unique component of the MRLF Program is our small grants program, whereby CTNC awards grants of up to $25,000 each to eligible land trusts for land and easement acquisitions. Unlike the loans, these grants do not have to be paid back by the recipient.
“CTNC’s MRLF loans and grants have been crucial components of many conservation successes by our partners in Western North Carolina,” said Rusty Painter, Land Protection Director. “By the very nature of the MRLF Program, as loans are repaid, the money becomes available to re-lend, thus continually providing a stream of financing that allows land trusts to respond quickly to properties highly threatened by development. A percentage of the balance of the loan fund is given out each year in grant awards.”
Each year CTNC receives many fantastic applications from our partners. This year, CTNC awarded $113,400 to seven land trusts. Here is a list of the great projects we are proud to support:
The Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina (FCNC) was awarded $20,000 to help fund the new Oak Hill Community Park and Forest. FCNC will manage and develop this land near Morganton in central Burke County for a community park, forest, and farm. Establishing a free, public park and forest will improve the quality of life for all citizens of Burke County and Morganton through easy access to nature for passive outdoor recreation, environmental education, community agriculture, and archeological exploration.
Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) was awarded $12,650 to design the Valle Crucis Watauga River Access in Watauga County. BRC purchased the 2.5 acre property in partnership with a conservation buyer to create a public access to the Watauga River. This project is in connection with a greater mission to provide public access to land and water resources, especially recreation as this land will become a public access site for fishing, tubing and paddling.
Mainspring Conservation Trust was awarded $17,500 for their Wood Farm project in Cherokee County, an important acquisition to protect 391.53 acres of land and the largest intact farmland tract in Western North Carolina. This is a strategic acquisition for Mainspring as the land adjoins three adjacent conservation easements, which together will protect agricultural soil classified as Prime and Soil of Statewide Importance, 2- miles of Valley River (classified C and Trout Waters), and four tributary streams.
Conserving Carolinahas been awarded $15,000 to fund theFranklin Bog property that will protect over 17 acres in Henderson County. By protecting this important land tract, Conserving Carolina will prevent upland development that would impact the recent, expensive bog restoration done under the direction of expert Dennis Herman. Protecting this site will also preserve a pond adjacent to the DOT restoration site, a pond which the US Fish and Wildlife Service has documented to provide key habitat to southern bog turtles who enjoy basking at the edge of the pond. Additionally, the pond offers an excellent opportunity for restoration to enlarge the bog in the future.
Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) has been awarded $20,000for the Chestnut Mountain property to protect 448 acres in Haywood County. The majority of the property will be a conservation easement with forest and trails. SAHC is already drafting an exciting future for the location by planning to build a 91-acre “park hub” that will contain park infrastructure such as a pavilion, some parking, a bike skills progression course for all ages, and bathrooms. This large tract under protection will also permanently protect 9 miles of stream in the French Broad River Basin, as well as secure habitat for NC wildlife, including three rare species: white bear sedge, upland bladder fern and the Cherokee melanoplus grasshopper.
Piedmont Land Conservancy (PLC) has been awarded$12,500 to complete a donated easement on 322 acres of the Womble family land in Alleghany County. The property is completely undeveloped with several headwater streams and forests. This property is situated in the headwaters of the South Fork of the Mitchell River, which has been a key protection initiative of PLC since 1999. In addition to protecting Mitchell River headwaters, another conservation value of the Womble property is that it is located on the Blue Ridge Escarpment, one of the most ecologically diverse regions in North Carolina.
Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust (HCLT) has been awarded $18,350 to place a 25-acre easement on the Horse Cove Bog property in Macon County. The Horse Cove conservation easement is a new project but has been on HCLT’s high priority list since 2011, and the land trust has worked with the land owner on three other easements. The Horse Bog Cove is currently unprotected, but it holds special conservation value: it is the site of an existing bog and a wetland complex associated with seeps at the toe of Rich Mountain. The property also has a rich heritage: the valley bottom of Horse Cove is the gateway to the Highlands/Cashiers Plateau and was settled as early as 1835 to build pasture lands and homes.
These are just a few examples of critical projects CTNC is able to support in Western North Carolina with the support of generous land conservation donors. From parks to farms to bogs, CTNC is proud to support the diligent efforts of our land trust partners. The Mountain Revolving Loan Fund and small grant program serves as an important reminder that we are all allies in the work to build a more resilient and just North Carolina.
Restoration and Education Seeds Resilience with Princeville Elementary School Community
was recently awarded a $200,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife
Foundation and Wells Fargo Resilient Communities Program to implement the first
phase of the Floodprint: Seeding Resilience Through Restoration and
Education in Princeville. “Seeding Resilience” will design and install
green infrastructure on the grounds of the recently renovated and flood-proofed
Princeville Elementary School building, so it can better manage future
project will reduce flood risks at the school and the adjacent Asbury Park
apartments, a rental assistance complex for low-income families. It will also
create an educational trail from the school toward the historic Princeville
Museum. Improvement of the landscape areas around the school provides
opportunities for direct water management and storage for the center of the
community and all housing surrounding it. It also will beautify an area that
has long served as the communal hub for the town.
this plan goes far beyond just land. This is about serving alongside the
resilient people of Princeville.
For three years, students living in Princeville had to attend schools in nearby towns after Hurricane Matthew hit the town in 2016 and flooded the town — including the school. With the reopening in January 2020, after a $6 million renovation and flood-proofing, the Princeville Elementary School welcomed back its almost 200 students and has since become a symbol of hope for revitalizing and reconnecting the community. And then, of course, COVID-19 disrupted the reopened school. CTNC and partners believe that realization of a successful, collaborative project at Princeville Elementary, visible and tangible to residents and visitors, will encourage further engagements toward sustainability and resilience in the community that is too often left to build itself back up after disaster.
“To best serve the people of Princeville, the Elementary School campaign will be a collaborative effort just as the Floodprint plan has been since its inception.” – Chris Canfield
are many groups involved in this community-led effort.
Design students from NC State University will collaborate with youth work crews from Conservation Corps NC and local Princeville students in planning and construction.
This is certainly an ambitious enterprise: one that requires many hands. CTNC is grateful for the partnerships in Princeville helping to build a resilient future together. Investing in North Carolina’s rich African American history through conservation-focused resources will lift up a shared vision we can all be proud to support and carry forward.
COLLABORATIVE PARTNERSHIPS MAKE COMMUNITY-LED CONSERVATION POSSIBLE
The Floodprint plan is the result of years of work among partners with the Town of Princeville, NC State University’s Coastal Dynamics Design Lab, The Conservation Fund, the Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments and Conservation Trust for North Carolina. This project is made possible with support from Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and The Duke Energy Foundation. Thank you to these wonderful partners.
Launching the first phase of the Floodprint is made possible by a Resilient Communities Grant from the Resilient Communities Program, a collaboration between Wells Fargo and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).
thank these entities for their generous investment and for seeing the crucial
need to help communities better prepare for and respond to climate-related
natural disasters by investing in green infrastructure.
“This program continues to demonstrate how local communities can use the benefits of natural ecosystems to provide for a more resilient future for our nation,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “The 11 grants we announce in partnership with Wells Fargo will work to build resilience locally, to help communities meet future challenges through natural systems and resources, and will benefit habitats for birds, fish and other wildlife.”
This has been an extraordinary journey over the last few months, but boots are now on the ground implementing the visions of so many that are deeply invested in building a thriving future for all in Princeville. Learn more about this collaborative.
**The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation or its funding sources. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute their endorsement by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation or its funding sources.**
Championing climate-resilient conservation to achieve statewide systemic change
“A resilient North Carolina is a state where our communities, economies, and ecosystems are better able to rebound, positively adapt to, and thrive amid changing conditions and challenges, including disasters and climate change; to maintain quality of life, healthy growth, and durable systems; and to conserve resources for present and future generations.”
Executive Summary, North Carolina Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan, June 2020
The report states that “immediate focus must be on developing strategic priorities for public and natural infrastructure improvements as well as actions that integrate climate resiliency into agency operations, local disaster recovery programs, and long-term planning.”
Embracing equity as a guiding priority for our work, we’re inspired to see North Carolina leadership acknowledge the need to build capacity among our most marginalized communities. That emphasis is key to seeding systemic change toward greater resilience. Our state now has the opportunity, and the responsibility, to adopt policies that promote statewide resilience for the health of our land and all our people.
A close-up on the strategy in action
CTNC’s holistic resilience strategy is already taking shape.
With the help of amazing community partners, the expertise of the NC State’s Coastal Dynamics Design Lab, and the trust of the Princeville citizens, we are completing the Floodprint this fall. This detailed plan shows how smart conservation and landscape planning can help the town survive future floods while building a vibrant economy that preserves and celebrates Princeville’s proud history.
We are collaborating with partners to build water-absorbing, green infrastructure around the Princeville Elementary School. The school building, at the hub of the community, has been recently renovated and flood-proofed. CTNC’s project adds rain gardens, bio-swales, and other natural approaches to water management on the expansive school grounds. A Conservation Corps North Carolina crew will do much of the work, including building an educational trail for public use. A CTNC AmeriCorps service member will help develop an environmental education curriculum in partnership with students and faculty.
We are documenting our steps during this process to learn from, improve our work, and share lessons toward developing a statewide, community-based model for building resilience.
These are only the beginning steps in a multilayered and multiyear partnership. We know that achieving resilience will be an ongoing, challenging mission, but we are excited – and hopeful – that you will join us to help build a resilient, more just North Carolina.
Each CTNC property is a commitment to conservation of land in perpetuity
“We’re in this forever. It’s about the work that’s done after the signing of the documents. After the glory and success of protecting a new property, the real work begins. We’ve made a commitment to the donors, landowners and government agencies to uphold the conservation values of every property we protect.”
– Land Protection Director Rusty Painter
It is always exciting to share each new conservation success with our supporters. Once an acquisition is closed or a conservation easement is recorded, the real work to steward land begins.
While we transfer many properties we acquire to public agencies, conservation easements held by CTNC on private land remain under our care and supervision forever.
CTNC is required by law, Land Trust Alliance accreditation standards, and our founding mission to steward, monitor, and be prepared to legally defend every property we own or on which we hold a conservation easement. CTNC’s Stewardship, Monitoring, and Legal Defense Fund is our primary source of funding to ensure these services continue in perpetuity.
Each year, CTNC’s Land Protection Director, Rusty Painter, and his summer interns travel to each property ─ from the Blue Ridge Parkway, to the Piedmont and on to the coast where we hold easements on Bald Head Island.
This is rewarding work, but requires significant resources to uphold our commitment to conserving land forever. The nearly $30,000 annual cost covers mandatory annual monitoring visits to each property, the technology needed to document conditions of properties, and the staff time necessary to defend property rights and conservation values if needed.
Legal Defense Upholds Our Commitment to Conservation
Unfortunately, our commitment to our protected properties will occasionally require legal action to stop imminent or ongoing threats to conservation land. As partners in protection of the property, this often means working with the landowner to defend the landowner’s property rights along with our conservation easement. An example might be a logging operation on a neighboring property that cuts timber from the protected property. The landowner and CTNC would pursue action as needed to recoup the lost timber value and ensure restoration of the protected property. While litigation in defense of an easement is rare, CTNC must be prepared to uphold our commitment to conservation.
“Property monitoring visits give staff and interns the opportunity to put boots on the ground, experience our conservation work first-hand, and sustain strong relationships with our landowner partners. Forming these lasting connections with the land and the people who love it is crucial to our stewardship work.”
Rusty Painter, CTNC Land Protection Director
Our annual monitoring ensures that CTNC-conserved lands remain intact, that established conservation agreements are followed, and that the natural and scenic value of these properties is preserved, forever. Building resilient, just communities starts with stewardship.
Little Glade Creek is Now a Permanent Piece of the Blue Ridge Parkway
Little Glade Creek is a permanently protected portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway thanks to private donors and Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC) supporters.
This quiet nook of the parkway along Little Glade Creek near Parkway milepost 228, approximately 2 miles north of Little Glade Mill Pond, enables forests on site to sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Prevention of development and impervious surfaces on the property will reduce the potential for flooding of Little Glade Creek.
Drivers along the Parkway benefit from this protection, particularly during leaf-off seasons when development on the property would have disrupted the beautiful vistas and treelines.
“North Carolina is one of the most rapidly developing states in the country and we need to protect all the open space we can,” said Rusty Painter, CTNC’s Land Protection Director. “Protecting land today ensures future generations can enjoy nature in our state.”
Protection of this property furthers CTNC’s efforts to widen the narrow corridor of protected land between Bullhead Mountain and Stone Mountain State Parks to the south and Saddle Mountain/Mitchell River Game Lands to the north. Its addition to the Parkway further enhances the Parkway’s ability to serve as a south-to-north migration corridor for species seeking a cooler climate in more northern latitudes.
CTNC purchased two adjoining properties to protect a 53-acre tract. This project shows how the protection of one property can lead to saving of others around it, amplifying the conservation benefit. CTNC transferred both tracts to the National Park Service (NPS) in fall 2022 for incorporation into the boundary of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Conservation Trust Expands Protection along Little Glade Creek and the Blue Ridge Parkway
The property contains a spring that feeds Little Glade Creek near milepost 228. Both properties provide a scenic natural buffer along the Parkway and protect Little Glade Creek from negative impacts of development. Conservation of natural buffer land along creeks and streams preserves water quality and reduces flooding risks downstream. That is particularly important in the Yadkin River basin, a river system that supplies drinking water to almost one million downstream residents in 21 counties and 93 municipalities in North Carolina.
CTNC’s purchase of the property was made possible entirely by a generous price reduction offered by the sellers and a contribution from a North Carolina couple with a passion for the Blue Ridge Parkway.
“Our family is very pleased to work with Conservation Trust to protect our property. Their work aligns with our hopes and vision for ensuring the land remains in its natural state. We are proud of the work the Conservation Trust is doing to use this land to extend the borders of the Blue Ridge Parkway, an amazingly beautiful road and a national treasure.”
“CTNC’s Little Glade Creek project adjoins the Skunk Cabbage Wetland along the Blue Ridge Parkway,” added CTNC Executive Director Chris Canfield. “Ensuring this land will never be developed, logged or otherwise degraded augments the protection of this wetland that’s already provided by the National Park Service.”
NC African American Heritage Commission and CTNC: A partnership built on cultural preservation and land conservation
North Carolina’s Black history and culture is rich and diverse; broad and deep. We have a responsibility to know, celebrate, and protect sites of cultural significance — and the stories and memories that they carry — to gain a greater understanding of the realities of the African American Experience in North Carolina.
*Click the double arrows in the top left-hand corner to view a legend and reveal more locations*
By better understanding their mutual interests, cultural preservation and land conservation organizations can work more diligently to build relationships and collaboration efforts that meet shared goals, and benefit diverse communities across the state. North Carolina lands hold a deeply-rooted history of African American and Black experiences dating back centuries. Throughout our 100 counties, our land holds the stories of significant African American heritage sites along the Underground Railroad to the Civil Rights Movement, once-segregated parks and beaches, Rosenwald School sites, and much more.
Our history is directly tied to land and people’s relationship to land.
CTNC and AAHC have collaborated on projects for several years to educate advocates and supporters to the importance of our shared goals for land preservation and conservation. In order to effectively conserve land for community benefits, we must understand how people’s relationship with these places have been formed over time.
This map can be used as a tool for people across the state to elevate our awareness of rich African American heritage and culture. The map will also serve to help cultural preservation and land conservation organizations better visualize the connections between African American cultural assets and natural resource values of land.
An Iterative and Collaborative Process
Through this map, we hope North Carolinians can explore their own understanding of land and culture and learn about new experiences they never knew.
We also acknowledge that this map is not complete. If you know of a significant African American cultural site that should be included, please contact us. We empower our network to help make this tool a robust resource to all North Carolinians so we can expand our collective knowledge of our past. By learning about the connection between people, place, and cultural histories, we can all do our part to make land conservation more equitable and inclusive in an effort to achieve a more resilient North Carolina.
Latest Donations to Expand Conserved Area Surrounding Waterrock Knob
Raleigh, N.C. – Conservation Trust for North Carolina recently donated three properties totaling 123-acres to the National Park Service (NPS) for addition to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The land, made up of three tracts, contains a significant section of Woodfin Creek upstream of the Woodfin Cascades, between Parkway mileposts 446 and 450 in Jackson County. Each of the tracts adjoin other properties protected by CTNC that will also be donated to NPS for inclusion in the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The Mountains-to-Sea Trail, which hikers can access directly off the Parkway at Woodfin Cascades Overlook, hugs the boundary of two of the tracts. The third property rises to 6,000-feet elevation and hosts a healthy population of native spruce. All of the land is highly visible from Waterrock Knob and is part of a growing area of protected public land around Waterrock Knob near Cherokee and the southern terminus of the Parkway.
“This is a region that attracts millions of visitors each year due to its natural beauty and unique heritage, said Conservation Trust for NC’s executive director Chris Canfield. “Our partnership with the National Park Service, local communities, and other land conservation organizations ensures all these qualities will endure for generations.”
CTNC owns three more adjoining properties that will also be donated to the NPS and has already donated four others in the immediate area totaling 205 acres. These transactions are part of a collaborative effort to bolster the area’s resilience to climate change, protect water quality in the Little Tennessee River basin, and strengthen the local economy by expanding tourism and outdoor recreation opportunities.
“We are proud to have partners like the Conservation Trust for North Carolina who value the preservation of land for the protection of imperiled natural communities and for the enjoyment of future generations,” said Acting Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent Neal Labrie. “We are happy to do this important work together.”
Conservation Trust purchased these properties in 2013 below appraised value. In addition to the seller’s generous donation, the purchase was made possible by Fred and Alice Stanback of Salisbury, N.C.
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