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A Dedication to Climate Resilience

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

Addressing North Carolina’s Current Needs

Our state needs to prepare for the challenges our communities face today and tomorrow.  Historically, land protection efforts have been driven by a property’s conservation value scored by biology, geography and hydrology. Today, we must strive to bring additional focus to how people – all North Carolinians – may be impacted by the lands we conserve and how they benefit best from that work.

Our resilience strategy is all about protecting people just like you.

At CTNC, we seek to deliver conservation with this deeper purpose. Our diverse range of expertise in land protection along the Blue Ridge Parkway, our successful young adult service and education programs, and our commitment to advancing race equity in the conservation sector have well-positioned CTNC to respond to the needs of North Carolina communities in innovative and holistic ways. 

Guided by our values, CTNC’s staff and board have adopted a holistic approach to land conservation. Alongside our community partners, CTNC seeks to understand people’s relationship with land so we can better understand how conservation can support better outcomes related to public health, economic development, access to recreation and healthy foods, and building communities resilient to the impacts of climate change.”

-Chris Canfield, CTNC Executive Director

A strategy that’s catching on

A community-led approach to conservation is emerging in the state. The recently released North Carolina Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan – which CTNC contributed to – emphasizes the need for a holistic approach to statewide resilience. This plan provides CTNC and our partners with shared, foundational goals we can build on.

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.”

Our resilience work is inspiring a new approach to conservation

CTNC is well equipped to deliver on that focus: we have already begun to work with community partners to develop a long-term resilience plan in Princeville and look forward to modeling this approach across the state.

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.

Using a variety of resources, we will assist the Princeville community to build a more resilient future

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. 

But a plan is only as good as the action it guides. CTNC is now launching on-the-ground action to begin a first phase of work outlined in the Floodprint.

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.

Princeville continues to struggle with flooding from the Tar River.

Learn more about our Princeville Collaborative by joining our email list. You’ll receive updates as we launch new projects with the Town and other communities throughout the state.

Stewarding Land — Forever

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, behind the scenes, the real work to steward land begins and, where we hold the land or easement forever, lasts in perpetuity. 

CTNC is driven by a goal to be good stewards of more than 30,000 acres currently under our protection so all people can share in the benefits that land provides. These 77 properties require annual inspections, management reviews and, at times, enforcement action.

Stewardship and Monitoring Ensure Resilient Lands

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. 

Summer Intern, MC Murphey, monitoring Flatwood Farm

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. 

In 2020 alone, CTNC will monitor 31,290 acres on 77 individually protected properties across the state. This is rewarding work, but requires significant time, cost, and staff resources – nearly $30,000 annually. This includes costs for mandatory annual monitoring visits to each property, employees and the technology needed to maintain each property and providing CTNC with the financial resources 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. 

Continue learning about our recent land protection projects driven by our partnership with the National Park Service along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

AmeriCorps Spotlight: Stephen Peters

How service and community work drives this future stormwater planning leader

North Carolinians are all too familiar with the damage of stormwater as we face severe flooding with worsening hurricane seasons annually. This stormwater floods towns and cities all over the state, damaging infrastructure and polluting clean water sources. Stormwater planning will directly contribute to a more resilient North Carolina for years to come.

These are the issues Stephen Peters explored during his 10-month AmeriCorps service term as he worked directly with the Kernersville community to provide stormwater education.

Stephen giving a presentation about stormwater planning!

As a native of  Kill Devil Hills in the Outer Banks, Stephen is familiar with the coastal environment of NC and the impact of storms on towns. He has first-hand experience witnessing how stormwater can damage a community. After graduating from Wake Forest University in 2020, Stephen was trying to figure out how he could combine his degrees in biology and environmental studies with his goal to serve. As a second lieutenant in the army reserves and a longtime volunteer, Stephen wanted to make sure his next steps were service-oriented. That’s where AmeriCorps came in.

“Service has always been important to me,” Stephen said. “This was another way for me to serve my community and state.”

Stephen holding a snake during a community outreach event.

Stephen provided stormwater education while serving with Stormwater SMART, a cooperative partnership between county and municipal governments to provide outreach programs educating about stormwater pollution, clean water, and water conservation. The Kernsville community is not unfamiliar with the impacts of stormwater. In 2018, the Kernersville citizens dealt with substantial flooding and damage from Tropical Storm Michael, and the local residents too often witness overflowing creeks with every downpour.

Kernsville was a town that needed the help of Stephen and the rest of the Stormwater SMART team who put together programs to mitigate the ongoing flooding issues. This task has even inspired Stephen, who was moved by his ability to help a rural community, build for a resilient future.

Stephen said AmeriCorps helped get him connected with a mentor, Danica Heflin, who coordinated environmental programs for Stormwater SMART, and helped him discover his passion for stormwater education. Now, Stephen is sure he wants to pursue a masters degree and eventually work for a local government focused on smartwater planning. He’s dedicated to engaging with rural communities and inspiring stewardship for their own environments.

In addition to educating elementary, middle, and high school science and environmental classes about water pollution, Stephen was involved with:

  • Planning Alamance Creek Week
  • Creating educational videos when schools moved online
  • Leading projects on I-Naturalist

“It was an eye-opening experience to get out in the community and teach people of all ages about how stormwater is impacting them every year,” Stephen said. “I really felt included in the community and felt inspired by their interest to continue this work. Stormwater will continue to damage towns all over NC, but hopefully I can begin to help residents build for a better future through my work.”

Stephen is still planning his next steps, but there are two big plans on his radar: completing his basic training camp as a second lieutenant in the army reserves and going back to school.

Stephen teaching elementary students about the Haw River!

“I really appreciate that Americorps, as an organization, focuses on the members and getting their own professional development,” he said. “It’s cool because you can take that time to work on yourself and develop yourself as a professional. It was definitely an incredible experience.”

CTNC partners to help shape Princeville’s resilient future

N.C. State’s Coastal Dynamics Design Lab Prepares a “Floodprint” in cooperation with the Town of Princeville. 

When CTNC shares resources, funding and expertise to help communities, we can create tangible change across the state. That’s exactly why we have partnered to co-create a vision for a resilient future for the citizens of Princeville, N.C.

Princeville, which is nestled just southeast of a bend in the Tar River, has been devastated by flooding for 100 years. A number of efforts over the years have outlined options for the town, but few have been community-driven and come through with committed resources.  That is where CTNC and our partners within the Common Ground collaborative come in. We found that researchers at North Carolina State University had earned the trust of the community through some community processes after Hurricane Matthew hit the town in 2016. They also had a model approach to planning that fit our vision and the town’s needs.

So CTNC and our partners garnered funding to support N.C. State’s Coastal Dynamics Design Lab in preparing a “Floodprint” in cooperation with the Town of Princeville. A Floodprint is a robust guide to strategic resilience planning – designed to achieve four goals: 1. to mitigate the impacts of flooding in Princeville, 2. to allow the public to access community assets, 3. to engage the local community, 4. and to create “excellent” design in the town. It is as much a process as a product.

This map details the flooding problem that devastates Princeville every year

Resilience planning is about being mindful of potential flood risk where areas have been historically impacted. When city and community planners develop strategies to assess and mitigate flood risk, they can develop a road-map to rebuild in a way that minimizes the damage to homes and other structures when flooding inevitably occurs again. 

A story of resilience for people, place, and culture. The challenges posed by the frequency and strength of hurricanes impacting communities across Eastern North Carolina are daunting for years after the water recedes. Due to its location in the crook of the Tar River, these flood events have left Princeville’s homes, schools, churches, and the Town Hall completely devastated. Princeville has been rebuilding for years, welcoming its people back home.  In January 2020, after a three-year hiatus, a newly renovated and flood-proofed Princeville Elementary School reopened to its approximately 200 students.

According to the N.C. State scientists leading the project, Andy Fox, Travis Klondike, and Madalyn Baldwin, the Floodprint project is “focused on design and programming strategies for celebrating and building community capacity around cultural and heritage-based tourism.” 

Cultural and heritage-based tourism is right. Princeville is filled with places that educate us all about its rich history and culture. From Freedom Hill, where formerly enslaved people first heard of their legal release from bondage, to a cemetery and numerous schools, those who’ve called Princeville home over the years treasure that material legacy.  Previous work by N.C. State students resulted in the construction of a mobile museum to share and protect the town’s historical legacy.

‘All great achievements require time.’

Maya Angelou

Princeville Town Manager Dr. Glenda Lawrence-Knight draws on this quote when referring to the budding relationship with CTNC. “Partnering with Chris Canfield and his team has been very uplifting. Despite it being challenging, it is understood that recovery is a process. A process that requires patience, time, energy and efforts toward great achievements.”

Dr. Knight added, “CTNC continues to mutually share with the Town in the recovery process of auspicious outcomes. Out of many, the most critical contribution is the immediate benefits of the floodprint plan that will grant the Town an opportunity to build a firm foundation with specific recovery guidance, address and tackle challenges during the research phase, promote collaboration, increase buy in into a shared vision for the future, ignite revitalization and most importantly, generate citizenship morale with recovery resilience. So, to this partnership derives greater hope, a clearer vision, resources, and results.

The Floodprint process is underway and expected to be finished in the fall of 2021. As it has already done, the project will continue to press forward with the approval, input and collaboration of community stakeholders and leaders.

“Princeville, for much of its history, has been so concerned about survival that historic preservation has been almost impossible,” said the Town of Princeville in an online statement. “Maybe the recent spotlight on Princeville will encourage the public (and potential funders) that the town is worth preserving.” 

Those words already seem to be ringing true. In January 2020, the town got word of $40 million in federal funding to improve levees around the town.  That work won’t solve all the threats faced by the town but it will likely encourage further investment to protect its history and future.

As an organization, CTNC’s board, staff, and partners are committed to standing alongside our Princeville friends as we work collaboratively to achieve lasting community resilience. Climate resilience is part of our lifeblood, as is community enhancement and the betterment of all people, especially those who have been traditionally excluded from the benefits conservation provides. We’re inspired and honored to continue this journey at the banks of the Tar River. 


The Floodprint effort is made possible with generous funding by Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and Duke Energy Foundation in partnership with The Conservation Fund and CTNC. If you are inspired by our community resilience work and want to make an investment in this future, please consider making a gift.

A Story of Community Resilience

This article originally appeared in Saving Land Magazine.

During the summer, staff of the accredited Conservation Trust for North Carolina visited the small town of Princeville that has been repeatedly devastated by floodwaters. In 1999, Hurricane Floyd caused the Tar River to rise and the town was submerged. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew brought heavy flooding again. Princeville has yet to recover from either catastrophe.

This story is similar to the plight of many towns in North Carolina and across the country. Princeville is unique, though, in being the oldest town incorporated by African Americans in the nation. They were given few options for land on which to settle after emancipation. Since 1885, the people of Princeville have weathered many storms, and not just meteorological ones. Their resilience is deep, yet its limits are strained.

The town lies at the intersection of three issues that have been growing in urgency for CTNC: climate, community and equity.

Every piece of land we hope to protect is being affected by a more volatile climate. Not just hurricanes, as in Princeville, but also droughts, fires, infestations and other extremes. We have already incorporated climate resilience models into our planning. We must go further. Land conservation can help  with the rising climate crisis by storing carbon to reduce long-term effects and by providing increased natural resilience to inevitable changes.

We are inspired by the many land trusts who already make innovative connections between community needs and conservation. We commit ourselves to leading with questions before answers, and to working alongside neighbors often given no voice in decisions affecting them. The process of building trust will take years of work and lots of humility.

Humility also requires us to admit the limitations of conservation. Our system of land ownership and use has too often excluded and disregarded entire communities of people. Again, Princeville is symbolic. Our work must honor the stories of black, indigenous and other people of color who have felt the loss of access to productive land for living, farming and for preserving their heritage. Land is at the core of racial and other inequities. We must ensure that we don’t worsen those realities and ultimately help change the system for the better.

Our staff and board embrace this new strategic vision. It builds on CTNC’s history of bringing together uncommon alliances. Our goal is to conserve land in ways that inspire and enable people to build resilient, just communities. Led by our values, we will continuously learn, share, admit and care.

Many of our plans are new and yet to be verified. So we’ve entered our experiment mindful that it will often be more about how  we work than what  we do.

History dictated that Princeville be in the floodplain of a river. We can’t change history. But, using the power of community and conservation together, we can change the future.

Chris Canfield is the Executive Director of the Conservation Trust for North Carolina. Jamilla Hawkins is Chair of CTNC’s Board of Directors.

Conserving Whole Communities

CTNC partners with local leaders and nonprofits to create positive change in Princeville 

In 1885, a group of formerly enslaved African-Americans claimed a portion of land in Edgecombe County as their own. It was a somewhat swampy space next to the Tar River that had been largely ignored by their white neighbors. They were a people largely unwelcomed in the county seat of Tarboro, which lay just across the water. The area, now called Princeville, N.C. after a respected freed slave named Turner Prince, became the first town in the U.S. to be incorporated by African Americans. 

The space that African Americans called “Freedom Hill, little more than 1.5 square miles in size, has rightfully obtained a monumental place in the African American cultural memory. But this largely overlooked parcel has experienced two 100-year floods in the last 17 years. The strength of hurricanes Floyd (in 1999) and Matthew (in 2016) caused the Tar River to overflow into Princeville homes, business and community centers. 

The damage caused, and community members displaced, serve as a reminder of racism and inequality that permeates the heritage of North Carolina land and stretches back to the town’s founding more than 130 years ago.

Where Climate, Community and Equity Intersect

Community Development Initiative Tyran Hill discusses how organizations can find common ground to address communities’ needs.

Our work focuses on conserving land that will help communities adapt to a changing climate, seeding equity and inclusion throughout conservation, and working alongside communities to identify where conservation can meet their greatest needs. Each of our guiding priorities intersects within the town of Princeville. 

Chris Canfield, left, and Jamilla Hawkins, right

“We commit ourselves to leading with questions before answers, and to working alongside neighbors often given no voice in decisions affecting them.”

— Jamilla Hawkins, Vice Chair of CTNC’s Board of Directors and Chris Canfield, Executive Director of CTNC//

Through the Common Ground collaborative, Conservation Trust will partner with the NC Community Development Initiative and The Conservation Fund to work alongside the Town of Princeville and its people to plan for and eventually deliver smart land conservation.  These efforts must be paired with larger community-driven initiatives aimed at bringing true restoration and resilience to the community. 

By conserving land along this stretch of the Tar River, we can restore some of the natural floodplain of the region. That can help absorb water during flood events that might otherwise inundate homes and businesses.  

We must deliver land conservation in ways that honor the past of Princeville while strengthening its future. We will continually advocate for land access and inclusion and grow our understanding of existing injustices within the conservation sector. And we will support work that further develops the economic, social and cultural assets of the community.

Climate change is sadly inevitable, and the effects of climate change and extreme weather events will continue to impact Princeville and its people.

But Princeville is also a place with deep resilience among the people themselves. We promise to work beside and behind our Princeville neighbors with respect, humility and a willingness to learn. Because each time the water rises in Princeville, it meets a courageous group of people that calls the land “home.” 

Partnerships and collaboration like this emerging one in Princeville can create transformative change to promote a more just and resilient future for all North Carolinians.

A New Vision for Conservation

Our land is facing new threats.

It’s time to offer new solutions. 

From the Blue Ridge Parkway to the eastern coast of our amazing state, the Conservation Trust is working alongside communities to conserve land in ways that build resilient, just communities throughout North Carolina. 

We are committed to finding land-saving solutions that benefit all people. 

We need you to join us.

A bold new approach 

CTNC has developed a courageous new vision for conservation that is powered by the people of our state. Our work now focuses on addressing communities’ greatest needs: climate resilience in a changing state, conservation that is led by communities, and seeding an equitable sector that benefits all people regardless of race or economic status. 

CLIMATE: Climate change has increased the ferocity of extreme weather events like floods, mudslides, and fires, but it has also increased our drive to combat those effects. Our climate resilience strategy mitigates the effects of climate change by conserving land in North Carolina’s most vulnerable spaces.

EQUITY: CTNC is dedicated to seeding racial equality throughout every project, every investment, and every hire. Because all North Carolinians, regardless of race, should share in the benefits of healthy land. 

COMMUNITY: What does success look like? At the end of the day, saving land should help communities thrive. Securing more funding and support for land protection will strengthen the health, heritage, and economic ecosystems for all our communities. 

We need you 

Our conservation work needs to be relevant to the times we live in, meaningful to the people we work with, and effective for the future. We’re building a conservation movement powered by the people of North Carolina.

This new journey begins with you.

Will you join us?

Conservation Led by Climate Solutions

Average temperatures are rising. Extreme weather events have become the new normal. Our state has incurred billions of dollars in damages from natural disasters including hurricanes and mudslides. We’re calling for more rational and human approaches to rebuilding communities in a way that readies its people for future disasters.

The land calls us to conserve forests, wetlands, river floodplains and agricultural lands as vital to lessening the impacts on human and natural communities. We will incorporate the long-term implications of climate change throughout our work and help build a more sustainable environment and economy for our state.

Our Commitment: CTNC will partner with communities who can help identify ways their land can better support people and protect them from extreme weather events in the future.

North Carolina needs a sound resilience planning and implementation strategy where solutions benefit those who have been most impacted by climate catastrophes – communities of color and those with limited economic resources. By convening leaders from conservation to community development and affordable housing, to local governments we can conserve land in ways that are safer, healthier and more just for communities and people impacted by climate change.

Conserving land with the best chance to adapt to a changing climate can restore natural protections for communities.

We have a history of conserving places like Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway, informed by sound science and our commitment to furthering climate resilience. Waterrock Knob is the 16th highest 🏔 peak in the eastern US. which will offer a solution for wildlife to migrate as temperatures slowly rise while offering an outdoor recreation destination that attracts millions of hikers and nature enthusiasts to the region.

Our work continues. By the end of this year, we will acquire another 240 acres of forested land at the headwaters of the Yadkin River that hundreds of thousands of North Carolina residents rely on as a source of clean drinking water.

Investing in the power of people

We acknowledge our environment is shifting and we’re facing new challenges. But conserving natural lands can offer new solutions. Won’t you join us in this effort to build resilient communities across the state and address the urgent issue of climate change in North Carolina?

This new journey begins with you.

Conservation Plays a Critical Role in Climate Resilience

In his address to the U.S. House’s Natural Resources Committee, Gov. Roy Cooper made a compelling case for taking a different, more proactive approach to rebuilding after storms, saying, “We spend a lot of money on recovery. Not enough of that money is allowed to be used for mitigation and resiliency.”

CTNC joined partners from Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Audubon North Carolina, American Rivers in penning a response to Governor Cooper’s address.

Read our position published by The News & Observer here.

Conservation will play a critical role in creating a more resilient North Carolina where communities are equipped to weather the next storm. CTNC is committed to working with our conservation partners, land trusts, and local communities we serve to conserve land that makes our state a safer place not just for today, but for future generations.

Addressing the impacts of climate change and environmental disasters won’t happen alone. Thank you to Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Audubon North Carolina, American Rivers, and our network of advocates who continue to move this work forward.

1,000-Acre Conservation Project Promises Clean Water and Pristine Parkway Views

Wildacres Retreat, a 1,076-acre property adjacent to Pisgah National Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway, is now permanently protected thanks to a collaborative partnership among Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina, Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC), and Wildacres Retreat.

Wildacres Retreat, located in northern McDowell County near Little Switzerland, is a nonprofit conference center governed by a board of directors. The center offers its facilities and surrounding woodlands to nonprofit groups for educational and cultural programming, and for board and staff retreats.

The property is protected under two conservation easements. A state-held Clean Water Management Trust Fund easement will protect stream buffers and critical natural heritage areas, while a second easement held by Conservation Trust for North Carolina will preserve a key portion of forested lands connected to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Pisgah National Forest. Together, the easements will safeguard wildlife habitat and protect water quality in five miles of streams of the Armstrong Creek watershed in the headwaters of the Catawba River.  Foothills Conservancy will monitor and steward these conservation easements on a contractual basis.

“Protection of these lands fills in a very important piece of the puzzle to permanently conserve extensive forests and habitats in the very high-quality Armstrong Creek watershed of the Catawba,” said Tom Kenney, Land Protection Director for Foothills Conservancy. “Wildacres adjoins a Wildlife Resources Commission fish hatchery and more than 10,000 acres of federal Pisgah National Forest Service lands. All this conservation helps ensure Lake James has a very clean water supply protection source.”

There are nearly six miles of hiking trails on the property for public use, including one trail into the property from Deer Lick Gap Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The project was primarily funded by a $1 million grant from North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund awarded to Foothills Conservancy and a $26,000 donation from Philip Blumenthal, director of Wildacres Retreat. In addition, CTNC secured a Duke Water Resources grant, $50,000 grant from the Cannon Foundation, a $100,000 grant from the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office Environmental Enhancement Grant Program, and $177,240 from the Open Space Institute’s Resilient Landscapes Initiative, which is made possible with funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The Resilient Landscapes Initiative seeks to build the capacity of land trusts working to respond to climate change. A grant of $34,779 from the Duke Energy Water Resources Fund, administered by the NC Community Foundation enabled CTNC to pay off a loan secured to purchase the easements.

Clean Water Management Trust Fund Executive Director Walter Clark described the organization’s reasons for contributing to the project to conserve what he calls an “incredible piece of property.”

“The Clean Water Management Trust Fund supported the Wildacres project for multiple reasons, including its protection of five miles of high-quality trout waters, which contain headwater streams in the Catawba River Basin,” said Clark. “The project also protects multiple forest communities important to North Carolina’s natural heritage.” Since its establishment in 1996, Clean Water Management Trust Fund has protected over 500,000 acres, including 2,500 miles of streams.

“The Wildacres Retreat property has been among CTNC and Foothills Conservancy’s highest priority projects for years,” said Rusty Painter, CTNC Land Protection Director. “Conserving its ecologically diverse habitat between the Blue Ridge Parkway and Pisgah National Forest achieves the type of landscape-scale conservation that’s one goal of our Blue Ridge Parkway conservation plan. Successes like this would not be possible without the commitment of champions like Philip Blumenthal and the Wildacres Retreat Board of Directors.”

Blumenthal added, “It’s been a long-term goal of the Blumenthal family to ensure the ecological integrity of this unique property for the benefit of Wildacres Retreat visitors and all who enjoy the Blue Ridge Parkway. We’re fortunate to have land trusts like CTNC and Foothills Conservancy who work tirelessly to save places we all love in North Carolina. They ensure our state’s most valuable assets will be protected forever.”

“Permanent conservation of the Wildacres property marks a major milestone for the protection of habitat in North Carolina,” said Peter Howell, OSI’s Executive Vice President of Conservation Capital & Research Programs. “As the climate changes, this highly resilient property will provide a long-term haven for sensitive plants and animals. The Open Space Institute is proud to have supported this project and we applaud Conservation Trust for North Carolina and the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina for their collaboration and tireless work to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Federally-protected land in this region is fragmented and thousands of acres are still vulnerable to development. Western North Carolina land trusts frequently partner to preserve National Forest and Blue Ridge Parkway lands for the benefit of all North Carolinians.

For more information, contact:

Tom Kenney, Land Protection Director, Ph: 828-437-9930, [email protected]

Mary Alice Holley, CTNC Communications Director, Ph: 919-864-0428, [email protected]

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