Asheville Riverside Park

An Equitable Vision for Conservation

CTNC strives to seed equity and inclusion throughout the conservation community 

We’re born on the land. Eat food grown in it.  Drink water that flows over it. Build our communities within its hills, valleys, plains and rivers. There’s not a single aspect of our lives that’s not touched by land.

While land connects us all, it has also been used historically to separate us. Entire communities of people – especially people of color – have been intentionally displaced and excluded. That shared history of inequity means that collectively our conservation work does not benefit all people as we intend it to. 

If CTNC is to be successful building resilient, just communities, we must emphasize how racial equity can be seeded throughout our work.

From Diversity to Equity

For over a decade, we have focused on increasing the racial diversity within the conservation sector of North Carolina through the Diversity In Conservation Internship Program. The program was founded to create a pathway for rising leaders of color to find careers in conservation. Our work has not only connected many young people of color with a professional conservation network, it has also helped organizations understand their own role in promoting race equity in their culture and practice. 

“It’s really important for us to build these connections for youth of color in conservation because there isn’t a network like there is for other populations in conservation.”

Dawn Chávez, Asheville GreenWorks 

We all benefit from greater inclusion. 

While CTNC is proud of the strides made over the past decade, our collective history and the current state of conservation indicate that there’s still so much to be done. Our work must not only create pathways to employment for rising leaders of color, but also change our culture and practices. We 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. 

CTNC understands that the historical legacy of conservation must be acknowledged in order to build more resilient, equitable communities for the future.

The stakes are high.

A conservation movement powered by people must include all people, not just those who have traditionally been seated at the head of the table. That’s why CTNC is committed to promoting equity through our work. Our vision is for all communities, regardless of race or economic status, to have a seat at the table.

Conserving land can be one facet of a larger effort to protect the stories, natural, and cultural heritage of historically marginalized communities across the state. 

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.

Save the Green In-Between

The parks, greenways, trails, and overlooks that you love in North Carolina are not there by accident. They are the result of careful, consistent and dedicated conservation efforts happening every day throughout North Carolina. These places are protected in large part because of partnerships between land trusts, government agencies, and lawmakers who appropriate money to fund land and water conservation through the State’s Conservation Trust Funds.

A total of $1.24 billion has been given towards worthy land, water, farmland, and park projects through the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, and the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund. 😲

If conservation organizations are able to continue our work to preserve the diverse beauty of North Carolina communities – from the rolling mountains of the Blue Ridge Parkway all the way to the sandy dunes of the Atlantic coast – we need you to join us. Take a stand as an advocate for land and water conservation and help conserve the places you’ll love for life. 🤗

Many land trust-protected properties on our map have been protected thanks to funding awarded by the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. While you’re out discovering the beauty of No. 21 Waterrock Knob; No. 23, The Orchard at Altapass; or No. 105, Springer’s Point Preserve, remember that public funds made it possible for these places to stay wild and green.

Money from the trust funds don’t simply go toward acquiring conserved lands, but it also goes to the continued upkeep and maintenance required. 🔨 Without adequate and consistent funding, park staff will not be able to maintain the infrastructure of already existing parks and recreation areas.

We need your help to continue conserving properties like these.

Join this growing movement. We need you to remind your elected officials that land and water conservation is a priority. 🗣

North Carolina voters believe land and water conservation are important assets. 77% of registered voters say that protecting the forests is important and 78% say that protecting fishing and wildlife is important. If you agree, now is the time to add your voice to an important cause. Help us cut through the noise surrounding our local lawmakers with a single, resounding cry: Conserve North Carolina Lands.

So many things that we can accomplish in our lifetime are fading – but the land can be forever. If, as North Carolina residents, we want to continue to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us every day, we need to unite and advocate for that beauty. Speak up for the conservation issues close to your heart. 

If we’re not already connected through email, join our action alert network and be notified when we need you to join with us in our mission to protect North Carolina’s diverse beauty and stand with us.

Upper Neuse Initiative Boasts Impressive Accomplishments

In 2006, the UNCWI partners, subject-matter experts, and local stakeholders developed a sophisticated conservation plan that identifies the most important tracts of land to conserve to protect water quality. Since then (as of January 2019), the land trusts and other partners have protected 115 properties that include 113 miles of stream banks on 10,491 acres. Another 10 projects with 7 miles of stream banks on 555 acres are in the works.

In 2014, the program was expanded to include the Swift Creek watershed, another local drinking water source. Also, the partners and stakeholders began working on an updated conservation plan to include current land cover data and to refine and refocus land protection priorities. The Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative 2015-2045 Conservation Strategy identifies 260,000 priority acres and sets a goal of protecting 30,000 acres over the next 30 years.

In addition, the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities and the Natural Resources Conservation Service provided UNCWI with a generous three-year grant in 2010 as part of the Endowment’s Healthy Watersheds through Healthy Forests Initiative. The grant enabled the partner land trusts to work with forest landowners to place conservation easements on their properties and/or implement forest stewardship plans.

Learn about the projects already completed through the program.

New Partnership Expands Conservation Corps

After successfully managing the North Carolina Youth Conservation Corps for six years, Conservation Trust for North Carolina, under a new strategic partnership with Colorado-based Conservation Legacy, will expand the program under a new name: Conservation Corps North Carolina.

Conservation Legacy is a national organization dedicated to supporting locally based conservation service programs across the country.

Under this new partnership, Conservation Corps North Carolina will engage motivated young adults, ages 16-27, to complete challenging and meaningful conservation service projects throughout the state. Projects include trail construction & maintenance, habitat improvement, hazard fuel reduction, and ecological restoration. The program, formerly operated in partnership with Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, will double its corps work for the Summer 2019 season.

“CTNC is committed to growing the successful conservation corps program so it can provide greater opportunities for a diversity of young people to help meet North Carolina’s critical conservation needs,” said CTNC Executive Director Chris Canfield. “With the increase in severity and frequency of storms impacting our parks and the maintenance backlog of conserved lands, Conservation Corps North Carolina is needed now more than ever. The program offers a unique opportunity for North Carolina’s young people to complete conservation service projects in their local community while developing leadership and team-building skills.”

“Conservation Legacy is proud to partner with CTNC to expand corps opportunities in North Carolina,” said Conservation Legacy CEO Susan Cimburek. “We look forward to working together to fulfill our common missions of conserving our land while fostering the next generation of leaders for our nation’s natural resources.”

Canfield added, “Conservation Legacy has demonstrated success building local corps programs to meet community needs with operations in Tennessee and Virginia. We are confident that our goals align and Conservation Corps North Carolina will prosper under Conservation Legacy’s strong leadership.”

The program will continue to offer residential crew positions where individuals camp in remote locations as well as expanded community crews where youth work in their local community while living at home. Crews will work with federal, state, and local partners as well as land trusts and private groups to complete necessary trail building and maintenance, facility improvement, and habitat restoration work, as well as chainsaw work and prescribed burning assistance.

To find open positions with Conservation Corps North Carolina, click here.


About Conservation Trust for North Carolina

The Conservation Trust for North Carolina protects the Blue Ridge Parkway’s natural and scenic corridor, assists land conservation, youth development, and community engagement work, and connects North Carolina families with the outdoors. Land trusts preserve land and waterways to safeguard your way of life. They work with landowners to ensure natural lands are protected for safe drinking water and clean air, fresh local foods, recreation, tourism, and healthy wildlife habitat. More information about CTNC is available at or @ct4nc.

About Conservation Legacy

Conservation Legacy provides support for local conservation service organizations under the leadership of a national organization, delivering high-quality programming in communities across the country to produce enduring impact through local action. In 2017, Conservation Legacy engaged over 2,000 youth, young adults, and veterans in conservation, restoration, and community development projects and contributed 1.1 million hours of service to public lands. 

Conservation Legacy programs—Arizona Conservation Corps, Conservation Corps New Mexico, Great Appalachian Valley Conservation Corps, Southeast Conservation Corps, Southwest Conservation Corps, Stewards Individual Placement Program and Preserve America Youth Summit—engage participants on diverse conservation and community service projects that provide opportunities for personal and professional development and meet the high priority needs of public land managers and community partners. Working in close collaboration with partners across the country, Conservation Legacy advances goals of increasing opportunities in conservation, stewardship, national service, and workforce development. More information about Conservation Legacy is available at

2019 AmeriCorps Members

Conservation Trust for North Carolina is the proud host organization for AmeriCorps, a ten-month national service program in environmental education and outreach. Through CTNC AmeriCorps, we seek to reconnect people with the outdoors and to develop future leaders in conservation. Learn more.

Anne Maxwell Ellett
Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association

Anne Maxwell Ellett is an environmental educator for Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association (ECWA). Prior to joining ECWA, she was an environmental educator for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Maryland after graduating UNC-Chapel Hill. During her time at UNC, Anne Maxwell studied biology and marine science and spent a semester in the Galapagos Islands studying marine ecology. At ECWA, Anne Maxwell leads Family Explorers Club, Explorers Club and assists with Nature Walks; all of which aim to get Durham residents, big and small, outside and connected with Ellerbe Creek. She is also involved with the planning and implementation of volunteer workdays, assists with outreach for various programs through social media platforms, and helps with fundraising for the education program. It was during her undergraduate career that her love for environmental science and educating the public was solidified.

Melissa Kennedy
Triangle Land Conservancy

Melissa Kennedy earned her B.S. in animal science from N.C. State University and grew up camping and hiking with her family. Her passion for the outdoors combined with her desire to share this interest with young people led her to AmeriCorps. She will serve at Triangle Land Conservancy as the AmeriCorps community outreach and education associate, doing community outreach and education in Durham, N.C. She hopes to inspire youth in her community to continue protecting the environment!

Lillie Reiter
Coastal Land Trust

Lillie Reiter serves with the Coastal Land Trust in Wilmington as an environmental education and volunteer coordinator. She is originally from Asheville and graduated from Guilford College in Greensboro. Her passion for environmental education began while she was studying abroad in the Turks and Caicos Islands teaching children about the ocean and marine biology. She has worked with a zoo, nature center, science center, land conservancy and now a land trust! As an environmental education and volunteer coordinator, her role will be to incorporate more environmental field trips into the school’s curriculum, engage the public in nature-based events, and help volunteers have fun while doing service. When she’s not out and about downtown with friends, she can be found at home, snuggled with her cat, eating ice cream and reading.

Eliza Hurst
Balsam Mountain Trust
Eliza Hurst is serving at the Balsam Mountain Trust as the education outreach coordinator. She will be focusing on bringing environmental education alive with live animal programs at local Title I elementary schools and public libraries. She received her B.S. in geology from Western Carolina University in 2018. Eliza was born and raised in Pompano Beach, Florida, where she developed a deep love for the ocean and marine life through scuba diving with her dad and brother. Those experiences shaped her love of the natural world. Eliza is excited to share her passion for the environment and conservation with the western North Carolina community.

Blair Frantz
Triangle J Council of Governments
Blair Frantz is serving at the Triangle J Council of Governments in the Water Resources Program as the stormwater education specialist. She will be promoting behavior changes through outreach and education about water quality impairment and our impact on stormwater runoff. Blair will be working to increase citizen access to and participation in environmental education activities and events. She’s originally from Montclair, New Jersey but moved to Durham this past summer. She earned a B.S. in environmental Science from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. As a former intern of the Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) and the Connecticut Council on Environmental Quality, Blair was thrilled to come on board as a CTNC AmeriCorps member for the 2018/2019 service year. Through these opportunities, she was able to share her love of the environment and clean water with others. Her professional interests lie in environmental analysis, environmental education and outreach, as well as environmental policy and regulation. Blair is enjoying settling into her new home in Durham and spends most evenings and weekends cooking or baking, reading, hiking and running.

Anna Vancina
The Conservation Fund – Good Hope Farm
This service year, Anna Vancina is positioned at host site The Conservation Fund in Chapel Hill, North Carolina as Good Hope Farm community outreach coordinator. Originally from Manhattan, Illinois, Anna was heavily involved in the 4-H program during her youth and adolescence, and from it developed her love of service. She interned this past summer with NCSU’s Center for Environmental Farming Systems and is currently finishing her Bachelor of Arts degree in environmental studies through the University of Illinois Springfield. Some of Anna’s main responsibilities at The Conservation Fund are to organize volunteers for Good Hope Farm workdays and events, develop educational programming for the farm and support various community engagement initiatives. Anna is most excited about the Good Hope Farm project because it is modeled to support small-scale farmers, encourage the growth of local foods and engage the community in urban agriculture.

Jade Woll
UNCW MarineQuest
Jade Woll serves at UNCW MarineQuest as a coastal citizen science ambassador. Jade will be creating a citizen science project focused on coastal resiliency. The purpose of this project is to increase community awareness about the protection marshes bring to coastal communities while partnering it with a citizen science project that will assess local marshes. She will be conducting various volunteer workshops ranging from marsh assessments to creating living shorelines. This position focuses on all the things she loves. Combining her passion for volunteer coordination with marine science allows her to gain invaluable experience for her future. She is extremely excited to be partnering with local community members and having the opportunity to increase community awareness about the importance of protecting our coast.

Grace McCants
Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust

Grace McCants is serving at the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust (HCLT) located in Highlands, N.C. as their environmental stewardship and outreach associate. She will be teaching after-school programs, maintaining trails and managing/recruiting volunteers for workdays. Grace and the volunteers will be striving to control invasive species around Highlands and Cashiers, treating surviving hemlocks in the area, protecting rare species, and creating better access to the beautiful vistas the HCLT protects. Along with this, Grace will be writing lesson plans about animal habitats, survival adaptations and conservation importance in a fun and educating way for the young students in the after-school programs. Grace hopes to further her skills in environmental education by completing the North Carolina Environmental Education Certificate as well as attending GIS lectures led by Dr. Gary Wein of the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust. CTNC AmeriCorps is allowing Grace to follow her dreams of educating children about the importance of nature and getting them as passionate about it as she is, as well as working to conserve beautiful properties throughout the mountains. When Grace is not working, you can find her backpacking along the many mountainous trails or snuggling in her cabin with her dogs.

Maya Revell
Piedmont Triad Regional Council
Maya Revell is serving as the environmental programs assistant with the Piedmont Triad Regional Council in Kernersville, N.C.  She was born and raised in Hickory, N.C. and now lives in Winston-Salem, N.C. Maya earned her B.A. in biology from Wake Forest University and worked in the WFU Office of Sustainability as a sustainability ambassador and the waste reduction intern. Her past work experience and college coursework have led her to pursue a career addressing the need for sustainability education.  While serving at the PTRC, Maya assists in coordinating the Stormwater SMART program by providing environmental education on water quality and facilitating community outreach events. She is excited that this partnership with the PTRC and CTNC AmeriCorps will allow her the opportunity to further develop herself as an educator as well as serve underserved communities in the Piedmont Triad. “I knew that serving with CTNC AmeriCorps and the PTRC would be the perfect opportunity to explore the intersections of environmental sustainability, education and social justice while inspiring the next generation of conservation leaders.”

Frances Starn
Durham Public Schools Hub Farm

Frances Starn is serving as the AmeriCorps education and outreach coordinator at the Durham Public Schools Hub Farm. An alumna of Durham Public Schools, she graduated with a degree in history and urban education policy from the University of Pennsylvania in 2015. Since then, Frances has worked for environmental education programs in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia and the Adirondack State Park in New York. At the Hub Farm, Frances will be piloting an elementary garden education program, working with community partners to increase the Hub’s visibility, and doing farm work. Frances is proud to return home to North Carolina and serve in her own community.

Claire Denny
Eno River Association
Claire Denny is serving at the Eno River Association as the AmeriCorps conservation and education coordinator. Her position requires her to participate in planning and managing stewardship volunteer workdays, perform land stewardship monitoring of properties owned by the association, organize landowner outreach meetings, be an advocate for Eno River Association at non-profit events/meetings, help out in any way she can with office work and to be a supporting hands-on environmental education mentor for underserved youth. After graduating from High Point University, she completed a year of service with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) in the southwest region of the U.S. Through this program, her love for the environment and conservation grew. She wanted to make a difference in the area that she lived in, by way of being hands-on in nature, so she applied for the position at Eno. Not only is she able to learn new aspects/skills while working for a nonprofit conservation organization, but she gets to educate others, especially the next generation. She is a lifelong learner and wants to teach/get others interested in what she is passionate about: nature. She’s excited for the next 10 months!

Kaitlin Willis
Eastern 4-H Center
Kaitlin is serving at the Eastern 4-H Center in Columbia after enjoying her summer at N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island and her first introduction to the Outer Banks. She is currently developing educational programs for the center to implement in summer camps and school field trips. Kaitlin is originally from Connecticut where she taught middle school science before transitioning into outdoor education after returning from a year-long adventure in Kenya. She is now looking forward to her time as a CTNC AmeriCorps member at the 4-H Center and is focused on helping kids discover a new type of outdoor classroom while spreading an appreciation for the habitats and wildlife found here!

Emilee Winter
Bald Head Island Conservancy

Emilee Winter graduated from UNC-Wilmington with a B.S. in environmental science. She is currently serving at the Bald Head Island Conservancy as the AmeriCorps community outreach and stewardship coordinator. Her responsibilities include creating and teaching environmental lessons both on the island and in nearby schools, expanding the conservancy’s outreach efforts and managing volunteers to help with stewardship projects. Emilee joined CTNC AmeriCorps in order to address the needs of the coastal community and show people how exciting exploring nature can be. After living in North Carolina her whole life, she loves enjoying and protecting the amazing natural resources here. She also loves scuba diving, kayaking, reading and watching “The Office.”

Chase Robinson
Tar River Land Conservancy
Chase Robinson serves as the land management associate at Tar River Land Conservancy and is overseeing the completion of hiking trails for communities within Edgecombe, Franklin, Granville, Greene, Halifax, Nash, Person, Vance and Warren counties. Chase will be recruiting volunteers to help with trail building, reaching out to local government and schools, community colleges and universities. Chase joined CTNC AmeriCorps to gain valuable experience within nonprofits, learning to interact socially across the counties, to earn an environmental education/nonprofit certificate and GIS work. He believes that the service is important as conservation is important to citizens of N.C. and around our country and believes that environmental education shouldn’t only expand to youth, but to adults as well.

Rachel Jamrozy
Keep Durham Beautiful

Rachel Jamrozy is currently serving at Keep Durham Beautiful as a volunteer and community outreach coordinator. Having recently graduated from James Madison University with a bachelor’s of social work, Rachel is passionate about working with individuals and communities on issues that directly impact them. She is passionate about service and has been involved with various organizations including Camp Kesem, Operation Smile, National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Sierra Club in numerous capacities. This year she plans to demonstrate that they do not need a formal environmental background to get involved! She will be coordinating events such as litter cleanups and tree plantings to make environmental stewardship accessible to community members. In her free time, Rachel can be found playing with her cat, painting or doing yoga.

Joshua Perkins
N.C. Arboretum
Joshua Perkins is serving as the AmeriCorps community engagement educator at N.C. Arboretum. Joshua is an advocate in educating others about the characteristics and benefits of the environment and how people should cherish the environment in which they live. Joshua attained a bachelor’s degree in environmental education from Warren Wilson College located in Swannanoa, Asheville. Besides serving as a CTNC AmeriCorps member for N.C. Arboretum, Joshua has also served in AmeriCorps as an assistant teacher and counselor engaging and ensuring the well-being of youth members through core and artistic classes. He has also served in CitiSquare AmeriCorps: Food on the Move as a community server where he traveled around East Dallas and provided free nutritious meals along with engaging with youth of diverse cultures and backgrounds in summer activities. These activities focused on taking advantage of the outdoor environments while gaining an appreciation of the outdoor environments with which the children thrive in.  Personal quote: “I am constantly seeking knowledge and skills that will enable me to become a more positive and influential environmental educator within the community. I believe individuals must gain an understanding of the environment in which they live. Doing so will allow one to develop a respect for an environment that deserves respect.”

Guido Schutz
Piedmont Triad Regional Council
Guido Schutz is serving as the Piedmont Legacy trails coordinator for Piedmont Triad Regional Council and Piedmont Land Conservancy to promote the Piedmont Legacy Trails program. His duties are to organize trail data in GIS, promote Piedmont Legacy Trails through social media and other relevant channels, assist in the organization of the annual “Piedmont Legacy Trails Summit” and assess conditions and map out trails in the region. He joined CTNC AmeriCorps to make a positive impact on the environment, which is something he has strived to do for the entirety of his life. Beginning his career by doing environmental service with CTNC AmeriCorps was the perfect way for him to gain experience in the field and help him succeed in making a positive impact on the environment, wherever his career may take him.

Erin Rexin
Coastal Studies Institute

Erin Rexin is serving as the Roanoke Island Trails Lead at ECU’s Coastal Studies Institute. She’ll be focused on developing a volunteer program with the aim of creating new biking and walking paths on Roanoke island as well as producing a map showcasing this new trails network for publication. Erin is from San Diego, enjoys hanging out at the beach and has a background in wildlife conservation biology. She joined AmeriCorps because she wanted to explore new coastal communities, engage locals with nature and the outdoors, and continue developing her skills in volunteer management.

Triangle Farms for Food: Strategy + Action Plan

The Conservation Trust for North Carolina, with grant support from the Triangle Community Foundation, developed a regional farmland preservation and agricultural development strategy for the Triangle. The project area includes Chatham, Durham, Johnston, Orange, and Wake counties.

The project:

  • Prioritizes farmland protection areas in the Triangle.
  • Identifies six strategies to conserve farmland, assist farmers, and support local food production.
  • Proposes six place-based approaches to address local opportunities for farmland preservation and community economic development.
  • Lays out a three-year action plan to guide initial efforts.

Download a copy of the full report designed by Community Food Lab.

Appendices Links

  1. GIS Farmland Prioritization Methods
  2. GIS Mapping Results
  3. List of Contributing Resource Professionals
  4. List of Contributing Stakeholders
  5. Stakeholders Ideas and Input
    1. Values
    2. Strategies
    3. Place-based Activities

Farmland Protection Priority Areas

Blue – Top scoring rural farm parcels.
Red – Top scoring urban farm parcels.

Project Partners

  • Conservation Trust for North Carolina
  • Community Food Lab
  • Center for Environmental Farming Systems
  • Carolina Farm Stewardship Association
  • Triangle Land Conservancy
  • Eno River Association
  • Sustainable Foods North Carolina

Our Collective Vision

Active, productive, and economically viable farms are common sights throughout the Triangle’s rural and urban landscapes, contributing to sustainable communities and a resilient regional food system.

Six Regional Strategies to Protect Farmland and Grow the Local Food Economy

Six Place-Based Strategies

  • Southeastern Johnston County Large Farms
  • Western Chatham County Large Farms and Livestock
  • Northern Orange and Durham Counties: Transition and New Markets
  • Urban Agriculture Focus in Durham and Wake Counties
  • County Line: Wake and Johnston County Small Farm Networks
  • Siler City Farm Ring

Triangle Farms for Food Strategy + Action Plan Provides Road Map for Farmland Preservation and Local Food Economy

Click Here to Download the Triangle Farms For Food: Strategy + Action Plan.

The market for fresh local food continues to grow in the Triangle region, but development pressures on existing farms and the lack of access to farmland for new farmers are major barriers to increasing local food production. There is a critical need to protect farmland to provide long-term food security for all Triangle residents.

The Conservation Trust and its partners have completed a regional farmland preservation and agricultural economic development strategy for the Triangle. With grant support from the Triangle Community Foundation and Sustainable Foods NC, CTNC has published, “Triangle Farms for Food: Strategy + Action Plan.”

Click here to download the full report and additional supporting materials.


In addition to the Triangle Community Foundation and Sustainable Foods NC, partners included Community Food Lab, Triangle Land Conservancy, Eno River Association, Center for Environmental Farming Systems and Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. The overall goals of the partners are to protect existing farmland and keep it in production, support existing and beginning farmers, advance agricultural awareness and build a strong local food economy in the region.


The strategy covers Chatham, Durham, Johnston, Orange and Wake Counties. These five counties combined have lost more than 63,500 acres of farmland since 1997. The strategy uses Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis to prioritize farmland for protection in the five-county region. The criteria for prioritizing rural farmland included prime soils, agricultural land cover, farm size, proximity to protected farmland, development pressure and distance to markets.  The strategy also prioritizes smaller farms in proximity to urban areas and food deserts that can serve as the focal point for farmland preservation and urban agricultural development.


The report identifies 788 parcels consisting of more than 50,000 acres of farmland in rural areas and 65 parcels consisting of more than 850 acres in urban areas as high priority farmland. Based on the GIS data and feedback from stakeholders throughout the region, the project partners developed six place-based strategies and six regional strategies to promote farmland preservation and agricultural economic development across the Triangle.

The Conservation Trust will continue working with partners in the region to implement the strategy and three-year action plan to achieve our collective vision: active, productive, and economically-viable farms are common sights throughout the Triangle’s rural and urban landscapes, contributing to sustainable communities and a resilient regional food system.

This post was co-authored by Edgar Miller, Government Relations Director and Caitlin Burke, Special Projects and Grants Coordinator. To learn more about Triangle Farms for Food click here

LEGACY SOCIETY: Protecting Land for Future Generations

This year the Conservation Trust for North Carolina celebrates 25 years of saving the places you love. As we look back at some of our milestones and accomplishments, we will continue to focus on our goals for the future. CTNC created its Legacy Society to honor and celebrate donors who, through estate planning, have made a commitment to ensure that pristine streams, thriving family farms, healthy forests, and spectacular mountain vistas are protected forever. These future gifts will contribute to the growth and success of CTNC and conservation efforts across the state for generations to come. Connie Backlund is one of our Legacy Society members, and here’s her story of why she joined.

For more information on joining our Legacy Society, contact a member of our staff.

In crafting her estate plan, Connie Backlund was guided by two principles—her love of the outdoors nurtured by her father, and her devotion to land protection. “The common theme of growing up on a family farm and later working for the National Park Service is being a good steward of the land and ensuring its well-being for future generations,” Connie explained. “By including the Conservation Trust for North Carolina in my estate plans I can make a tremendous difference throughout our state with continued land protection that ultimately results in an improved quality of life for all state residents.”

Connie grew up on what she calls an “all American farm” in west central Ohio. She spent much of her time as her father’s shadow, helping harvest corn, soybeans, oats and wheat, and raising their many dairy cows, beef cattle, pigs, and chickens. “I cannot imagine a grander childhood!”

In 2000, Connie’s father placed an agriculture easement on the farm, the second one in Ohio at the time, protecting the land as a working farm in perpetuity. Today the farm remains in Connie’s family where she still enjoys the fall harvesting of soybeans and corn.

The time spent outdoors as a child influenced many aspects of Connie’s life. Majoring in biology at Bowling Green State University, she participated in a biology field class where she discovered national parks. “I knew instantly while attending my first evening campfire program hosted by a young lady ranger in Badlands National Park that that was what I wanted to do!” Connie retired in 2012 after a 38-year career with the National Park Service. Her last position, for 18 years, was as the Superintendent at Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in Flat Rock.

Connie became acquainted with the Conservation Trust in 1996 when CTNC was designated by the Governor’s Year of the Mountains Commission to lead and coordinate efforts to protect scenic views along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

In 2001, a 22-acre parcel adjoining the Sandburg Home, which served as the backdrop to one of the most scenic areas in the park, was put on the market. CTNC stepped forward and purchased the property, preventing it from being developed as a subdivision. “I am fortunate to have been part of a transaction regarding land protection and to see firsthand the degree of expertise and knowledge that the CTNC team has. It impressed me at that time and continues to do so today.”

Over the years Connie has spent time with CTNC supporters, staff and board members on various hikes and at special events that strengthened her connection with the organization. “Developing these relationships gives me the confidence that, like the land, my contributions and planned estate gift to CTNC will be well stewarded. I am honored to be a member of CTNC’s Legacy Society.”

A Legacy of Rosenwald Schools

Connecting Natural and Cultural Heritage

In the first half of the 20th century, an African-American leader and a white philanthropist took steps to provide black children with a basic resource needed to learn: sturdy schoolhouses.

Booker T. Washington sought the help of Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears Roebuck, to build schools throughout the South, based on a simple, practical design that made the most of limited resources. Rosenwald’s grants were matched with funds raised by local school boards and the communities the schools would serve. More than 5,300 Rosenwald Schools were built in 15 states. North Carolina had more than 800 – more than any other state.

Now, only a handful remain. Some have been restored for use as historic sites or community centers. Others are still standing, but in desperate need of repair before they can again serve as a gathering place for their communities.

In partnership with the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office and the NC African American Heritage Commission, CTNC supports the NC Rosenwald School Network, a group that connects local Rosenwald School groups so that they can share resources and the lessons they’ve learned to bring school grounds and buildings back to life.

At a recent Rosenwald School event hosted by Roanoke River Partners (a member of the Rosenwald School Network), Congressman G.K. Butterfield traced the legacy of Rosenwald Schools in North Carolina to a 1910 meeting between Booker T. Washington and black educators during his train tour of the state.