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Climate Resilience Leaders – Mary Alice Holley

Mary Alice Holley’s conservation roots run deep. Her dedication to protecting the land on which we live and play is evident to everyone who meets her.

Mary Alice has been with Conservation Trust for North Carolina since 2016 and currently serves as Director of Community Innovation. In her current role, she works with CTNC’s staff, board, and partners to ensure the organization advances its mission to build resilient, just communities for all North Carolinians.

She has built on a long career in nonprofit communications and public relations. She has been at the forefront in helping change the conversation about climate change from oppositional to encouraging a community effort. Prior to joining the organization, she put her B.A. in mass communications and rhetorical writing from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to work as she supported conservation organizations throughout the state in building smart communication strategies that better connect supporters to their missions.

During her career, she’s worked on a variety of climate change communications campaigns including the Audubon North Carolina Birds and Climate pilot program and served as the Z. Smith Reynolds Conservation and Climate grant program lead on behalf of North Carolina land trusts. Most recently, she developed a climate communication tool kit in partnership with Land Trust Alliance to provide Southeastern United States land trusts with a guide to engaging their supporters on climate change issues locally and regionally.

When not working to protect the planet, she’s hard at work making her own land more resilient by building rain gardens, pollinator habitats, and a vegetable garden on her 1-acre homestead in Orange County, NC. She also finds time to manage a flock of chickens, 2 dogs, honey bees, and an ever-expanding system of raised garden beds.

She’s incredibly passionate about protecting our state’s communities by managing our water. “For North Carolina – climate change is often thought of as a sea-level rise issue – and I believe this challenge reaches far beyond our coastlines. North Carolina is in the top 10% of states in the United States with land situated along coastlines, rivers, and streams. Our ability to protect our communities and maintain our resilience in the future is wholly reliant on our ability to better manage water quantity and water quality challenges. Water issues will impact every North Carolinian across the state and we have the opportunity to come together as one state to find innovative solutions.”

When did you first realize the real and present impacts of climate change?
From a young age, I knew changes were occurring with more frequency and severity. I can remember when my hometown was covered in a foot of snow in the middle of spring, or when the Tennessee River was inundated from storms and our community park was underwater for two weeks before the floods receded. These weather events were not at that time normal or expected – but today they are. It took time for me to study environmental issues and to connect these events to global warming and climate change – but once I could identify the root cause of these events, I began to see my role in identifying and implementing solutions. I felt empowered to think about how my actions could either contribute to climate change or contribute to the effort to create a better outcome. Since then, I’ve committed myself to making decisions for myself, my household, my family, and my community that offer solutions to the climate crisis on small and large scales.

How have you seen climate change impact North Carolina?
North Carolina has nearly 38,000 miles of river in our state. I have been fortunate enough to paddle many of our rivers and even more of our lakes and marshlands. They’re incredibly beautiful and scenic, but our river systems are also critical to the health of human and natural communities. As climate change brings more frequent and severe storms to our state, these rivers will be our first line of defense to hold water and protect communities from the destruction caused by floods. But that will only happen if we bring together experts, policymakers, and funding resources to evaluate how we can better utilize our rivers as assets to face the climate crisis.

In Princeville, residents and community leaders have been dealing with the threat of floods since its founding. Their position along the Tar River has caused extreme challenges for their residents – but that experience as a town that floods has now positioned them as a leader in the effort to find innovative solutions to live with flooding rivers in the face of climate change. They’re marrying the best of science, technology, and conservation to tackle this challenge head-on and their counterparts in more communities across the state are taking notice. Our climate will continue to change and we will continue to feel those effects, but we can’t let the opportunity pass by to change our habits and policies to better equip ourselves for these future realities.

What actions can organizations in NC take right now to make our state more resilient?
A resilient community is one where people are meaningfully engaged and empowered, where leadership is responsive to community needs as defined by its residents, and where its people are able to respond to climate-related disasters by rebuilding or adapting in ways that make them stronger and more prepared for future challenges. What better way for organizations to have an impact than to partner with each other, with funders, elected officials, and local community members with a shared goal to collaborate toward finding and implementing solutions to the climate crisis? We as mission-oriented, community-driven organizations have a responsibility to the people of North Carolina to do whatever we can to increase our resilience because everyone will benefit from this collective effort.

Working in climate resilience can be overwhelming. How do you keep going?
I remind myself that every action I take as an individual has an impact on someone else – so why not channel that energy toward being a climate champion and environmental steward? Within my home, my family are all committed to reducing our climate impact by composting our food waste, reducing our energy consumption where possible, growing food for ourselves and our neighbors, and sharing our passion for conservation and environmental stewardship with others. Professionally, I have dedicated my career to supporting initiatives that have a net-positive effect on the climate crisis whether that be educating North Carolinians on the importance of land conservation as a climate solution or helping other organizations communicate about and celebrate their own climate impact successes.

I find energy from modeling my life in ways that can inspire others. If I am able to wake up every day and know I contributed to a national movement to conserve land in ways that absorb more carbon, protect people from the harm of floods, support climate-smart agriculture and farming practices, and increase the number of people who are committed to taking small actions in their everyday lives – I will have been successful. I believe that people’s actions coupled with smart policies will change the course of our climate future.

Do you want Mary Alice to speak at your next event? Contact Mary Alicemholley@ctnc.org.

Uniform Act Makes Way Through State Legislature Approvals

Families may soon have better safeguards against involuntary land loss

Heirs’ property occurs when land is passed down through generations and owned by many descendants with an undivided interest in the land. Owners of family-owned land where the title to the property is not clear are vulnerable to involuntary land loss resulting from a forced sale of the property. In North Carolina, anyone who inherits or purchases even a small interest of heirs’ property can potentially force other owners to sell against their will, often for well below fair market value.

Land provides a significant source of economic stability and growth for many families. This type of land ownership is common in North Carolina. Although no one is immune to the vulnerability of losing their land to a forced partition action, this issue disproportionately impacts Black, Indigenous, and People of Color throughout North Carolina.

A Legislative Solution: The Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act

Enacting the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act (UPHPA) in North Carolina will address how current state laws leave landowners of heirs’ property vulnerable to involuntary land loss. The UPHPA will help families by giving them a solid chance at keeping the land in the family when one or more owners wants to divide or sell the land through a partition action. This bill has been enacted in 17 states including Georgia and South Carolina. We hope North Carolina will be next.

Currently, the North Carolina General Assembly is considering adoption of the bill that would safeguard families from forced sales through partition action. The NC House recently passed the heirs property bill (H367) with strong bi-partisan support. We deeply appreciate those showing leadership on this important issue. The Senate will soon vote on the bill.

Families in an heirs’ property situation have difficulties accessing federal funding for sustainable forest and habitat management, agricultural work, and natural disaster recovery. In states where the Uniform Act is adopted, federal law allows landowners to gain access to beneficial funding and aid programs, including FEMA disaster recovery and the USDA Farm Bill.

CTNC has joined a coalition of non-profit and for-profit partners advocating for the adoption of the Uniform Act so North Carolina families can be protected from involuntary land loss.

Who is involved? Black Family Land Trust Inc., Roanoke Electric Cooperative, Audubon North Carolina, Conservation Trust for North Carolina, The Conservation Fund, The Land Loss Prevention Project, members of the North Carolina Bar Association, academic partners, and other experts.

Learn more about this legislative priority here.

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.

Standing for black lives

CTNC’s mission is to help build resilient, just communities. Our focus is conservation, because that is our expertise. But when people, especially people of color, do not feel safe, whether outdoors or in their own homes, then there can be no resilience. And certainly no justice. We stand with those calling for systemic changes to our laws, policies, and practices. No one should live in fear because of the color of their skin. Every person should be able to enjoy a resilient, just North Carolina.

CTNC’s board and staff have committed to changing our internal policies and practices in ways that build a more just North Carolina where all people share in the benefits of healthy lands. As part of this journey, we have committed to exploring the ways white privilege, white supremacy, systemic racism, and unjust practices intersect with our conservation work both personally and professionally.

For those looking for ways to take action, we’ve compiled a few resources for engagement and education about systemic racism, the racialized history of land, and how we as a conservation community can become strong allies to people of color.

On Racism and White Privilege

On race, the environment & the conservation movement

On dismantling systemic racism

CTNC acknowledges that we as an organization, a community, and individuals have much to learn about our own race equity practice but we share these resources with the hope of inspiring others to join us in holding ourselves and each other accountable for learning and growth.

If you’d like to start a conversation about the intersection of race and conservation or you’d like to learn more about our work to build a more resilient and just North Carolina – reach out to a member of our staff to get connected.

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?

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. 

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.

Margaret Newbold honored with the Order of the Longleaf Pine

Conservation Trust for North Carolina congratulates Margaret Newbold, former Senior Associate, who was recently honored with the Order of the Longleaf Pine by the Governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper in appreciation for more than 20 years of exemplary service for land conservation through her work with the Conservation Trust for North Carolina.

Margaret has forged partnerships across the state to support the growth and development of local land trusts. She focused on diversifying the land trust community and making conservation more inclusive through CTNC’s comprehensive diversity and equity program, which included an internship program, workshops and trainings, and small grants. Margaret’s passion, expertise, guidance, and commitment to partnerships has led to North Carolina’s land trusts, other conservation organizations, and local communities across our state protecting and elevating the importance of our natural and cultural treasures.

During her tenure, CTNC was able to conserve 34,500 acres of land along the Blue Ridge Parkway, support local land trusts with $15.05 million in low-interest loans leveraging protection of $46.6 million in land value, and connect hundreds of young people from diverse backgrounds to careers in conservation through the Diversity in Conservation Internship Program, NC Youth Conservation Corps, and CTNC AmeriCorps.

Thanks to Margaret, CTNC is recognized as a national land trust leader tackling issues related to racial equity, diversity, and inclusion seeking to build a conservation sector that represents all of North Carolina’s communities. Margaret has enabled CTNC to thrive as a leader because of the strong foundation she helped to build. Margaret’s impressive legacy for land and communities in NC will live on for generations to come.

“I feel strongly that the conservation sector must work closely with the community economic development sector to chart a course that fosters healthy, whole communities, as land is the foundation of this work and the common ground we all share,” said Margaret. “I am filled with gratitude to be recognized with this incredible honor and join the ranks of Order recipients who came before me. I accept this award on behalf of all my partners and colleagues who have worked with me to conserve our land for the enjoyment of all.”

Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Chief Deputy Secretary Reid Wilson presented Margaret with this distinguished award on behalf of the Governor. A group of Margaret’s friends, family, and colleagues gathered for the celebration at Irvin Farm, a Triangle Land Conservancy property.

The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is among the most prestigious awards presented by the Governor of North Carolina. The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is presented to individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to the state. Margaret joins an esteemed group of award winners, which includes Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, and fellow land trust staff colleague Janice Allen of the Coastal Land Trust.

In addition to the Order, Margaret was also named Land Conservationist of the Year during the North Carolina Wildlife Federation 55th Annual Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards.

CTNC Awarded $100,000 by Environmental Enhancement Grants Program

The Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC) was recently awarded a $100,000 grant from the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office Environmental Enhancement Grant Program to apply toward the remaining balance of the 1,076-acre Wildacres Retreat conservation project.

By protecting this expansive landscape from future development, the Wildacres conservation easements will offer permanent protection of extensive aquatic and forest habitats that boast a rich diversity of native plants and animals. Additionally, the conservation easements managed by CTNC, Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina, and the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, will safeguard clean drinking water for downstream residents, enhance wildlife habitat, preserve scenic vistas along the Blue Ridge Parkway, provide environmental education opportunities for retreat visitors, and ensure public access to six miles of hiking trails.

CTNC and Foothills Conservancy completed the project at Wildacres in December 2017 with funding from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the Cannon Foundation, Open Space Institute, and generous donations from Wildacres and the Blumenthal family. A low-interest loan from the Will Henry Stevens Revolving Loan Fund covered the remaining balance allowing CTNC to leverage existing funding and complete the transaction by the end of the year. The funds awarded by the Environmental Enhancement Grants Program will help replenish the fund that allows us to continue offering assistance to land trusts working to acquire future lands.

The Wildacres property lies on the Blue Ridge Escarpment in McDowell County in the upper reaches of the Catawba River basin. The property offers a unique array of natural habitats as it sprawls from the top of the escarpment at the Blue Ridge Parkway to the valley below Armstrong Creek at Highway 226 A.

This natural and scenic landscape will have a lasting impact on our environment and will be enjoyed by future generations as visitors to the retreat center, the Blue Ridge Parkway and millions of others who will enjoy the benefits of clean and safe drinking water, healthy fisheries and spiritually nourishing recreation opportunities.

Conserving the Wildacres Retreat was possible because of our strong relationships with the local land trust, a committed conservation-minded landowner, grants from our generous partners, and donations from supporters of our Blue Ridge Parkway land protection work. We have all worked together on this opportunity over a long period of time. For more information on the Wildacres Retreat conservation project, read our blog post celebrating the project completion.

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, tkenney@foothillsconservancy.org

Mary Alice Holley, CTNC Communications Director, Ph: 919-864-0428, mholley@ctnc.org

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