Portions of the property are visible from the Blue Ridge Parkway and MST near milepost 274, just off Highway 421 near Deep Gap. Conservation of this tract complements CTNC’s protection of an 86-acre property, just across the Parkway below Elk Mountain Overlook and our recent 408-acre acquisition adjacent to that one.
The Elk Mountain Meadow property protects water quality in a tributary of Gap Creek, and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail passes within feet of this property, ensuring a more desirable experience for hikers.
The addition of the Elk Mountain Meadow property to the Parkway will help increase the connectivity of protected lands in the area to preserve the natural corridor while ensuring a forested buffer along this section of the MST. Conserving land along the Blue Ridge Parkway also enhances the landscape’s resilience to our changing climate by providing protected places where ecological diversity can resist damage and migrate safely to more hospitable areas.
“Protection of properties like this contributes to the integrity of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which attracts millions of visitors to the High Country each year. The addition of the Elk Mountain Meadow property also enhances the experience of hikers along this section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail on the outskirts of Boone.
“Conserving more land is so important to the future of our country” said the previous owner who sold the property to CTNC in 2017.
One way CTNC facilitates permanent land protection in Western North Carolina is through our Mountain Revolving Loan Fund small grant program. This fund allows land trusts to secure funds for critical, transaction-related expenses that are not always covered by other sources.
This year, CTNC provided six grants to five land trusts totaling over $83,000:
Blue Ridge Conservancy
Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina
Mainspring Conservation Trust
Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy
This investment will help protect and manage 1,013 acres of land in Western North Carolina.
The CTNC Mountain Revolving Loan Fund has two significant benefits for our partners:
First, it provides bridge financing with minimal interest to land trusts in Western North Carolina to purchase conservation land and easements. As loans are repaid, the money becomes available to re-lend.
A percentage of the balance of the loan fund is given out each year in grant awards. Grants of up to $25,000 are not required to be paid back.
Conservation can provide solutions to many challenges facing our communities. Through innovative conservation strategies, we can build places to hold excess water after storms, protect trees that absorb carbon from the atmosphere, and offer places for people to relax for their mental and physical health.
In 2021, North Carolina legislators voted to spend nearly $200 million to support efforts that will allow our state to become more resilient to climate change. We urge our state leaders to repeat this important investment in our state’s natural resources. Only with smart conservation policies will we successfully build resilient communities that are prepared to weather any storm.
CTNC’s Policy Goals include:
Increase public funding for land acquisition, park maintenance, trail construction, and recreation access
Empower communities to invest in flood-resilient strategies
Prevent involuntary land loss caused by forced partition sales of heirs property
Build capacity within communities through AmeriCorps and other service opportunities
These goals will guide our work with policymakers and legislators for the years to come and key outcomes will prepare our state for whatever comes next.
As a member of the Great Trails State Coalition, CTNC will continue to work with members of the General Assembly to bring the economic, health, and environmental benefits of trails to North Carolina communities.
EMPOWERING RESILIENT COMMUNITIES North Carolina communities need greater investments, increased capacity, and a cadre of service-minded people to be successful in implementing the recommendations of Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 80 and Climate Risk and Resilience Plan. CTNC will advocate for the funding and resources that provide every community with the opportunity to benefit from AmeriCorps service that builds capacity and finds innovative conservation solutions to address the issue of climate change. Learn more about Resilience Corps NC.
Land trusts can lead the way in addressing the impacts of climate change and flood risk. Alongside the Land Trust Alliance, CTNC will promote policies and funding that advance natural climate solutions while supporting the protection, restoration and stewardship of open and working lands that increase climate resilience. Read more about Land Trust Alliance’s policy priorities.
PREVENTING INVOLUNTARY LAND LOSS 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. Currently, the North Carolina General Assembly is considering adoption of the bill that would safeguard families from forced sales through partition action. Read more about the NC Heirs Property Coalition and our effort to adopt the Uniform Act for NC families and landowners.
It All Starts with Collaboration to Seed Better Outcomes CTNC is committed to participating in coalitions to find a better future for our state. Our team is active members of Land for Tomorrow, the Great Trails State Coalition, and the NC Heirs Property Coalition, Conservation Trust for NC. These coalitions advocate for smart conservation policies and adequate funding on behalf of our members, community partners, and collaborative projects.
Join Us As a member of the CTNC community, we hope you will stand with us and advocate for smart conservation policies that allow every North Carolinian to benefit from conservation and get the tools needed to build communities that are resilient to the impacts of climate change.
We can all agree that preserving private land for conservation is important.However, it is also incredibly important to expand our federally-protected lands at the same time. Land trusts like CTNC are critical partners in quickly moving to preserve land for expansion of park boundaries. Often, threatened properties can only be saved by rapid action that’s simply not feasible for our government partners.
In this case, CTNC held these parcels in conservation protection for eight years while the Parkway worked through the proper channels to accept them into the federal system for permanent conservation. Without a land trust partner, these transactions wouldn’t be possible, and without your support, land trusts couldn’t continue this important work.
“This acquisition is an important gift to future generations. I appreciate all of the effort on the part of Conservation Trust for NC and the Blue Ridge Parkway staff to get us to this point.”
Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent Tracy Swartout
“We extend our sincerest thanks to CTNC for holding onto these properties for the past eight years! We’re on track to accept several more CTNC properties this year. We’ll have more to celebrate in the coming months.”
Alex Faught, Realty Specialist, U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service
Our successes are not always instantaneous, and it’s through the unwavering support of our conservation and community partners that we’re able to preserve and protect the best parts of our state.
The 2021 budget for North Carolina has been passed with bipartisan support by the NC legislature, and officially signed by Governor Cooper, in a huge win for conservation. This legislation will substantially increase funding for land acquisition projects; major investments in parks, trails, and open space statewide; and new investments to advance resilience planning and floodplain protections that will help communities facing the impacts of climate change.
With a total of nearly $200 million for resilience and more than $300 million for conservation projects, this is the greatest investment in conserving North Carolina communities since before the Great Recession in the late 2000s.
What Does This Mean for Our Work? Since 2018, CTNC has been a leader among conservation groups across the state dedicated to achieving special funding for a statewide resilience planning initiative. In partnership with our colleagues at Environmental Defense Fund, NC Conservation Network, The Nature Conservancy, The Conservation Fund and many others, we collectively have brought models from other states and our own examples of working with communities to make the case for funding these critical projects. Collaborative partnerships and bipartisan support, like that fostered by the Land for Tomorrow Coalition, ensure we all move conservation forward in ways that benefit communities.
Through this funding and the other resources it will attract, we hope to collaborate with additional partners to:
Provide resources and funding to local governments to create resilient strategies to protect their communities.
Assist every small community across the state in creating flood plans, and with funding to implement. We are already a key advisor to the state on a resilience handbook for communities.
Create jobs in rural communities to restore and build natural infrastructure and other adaptive measures to reduce flood risk.
Prioritize economic investment in local communities, so they thrive.
The 2021 State Budget includes:
Land and Water Fund This is the primary source of grants allowing hundreds of local governments, state agencies, and conservation nonprofits to protect clean water and conserve ecologically, culturally, or historically significant lands. This investment will directly benefit acquisitions and easements sought along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
$49.5 million new revenue in FY21-22 and $51.5 million new revenue in FY22-23
$15 million in FY21-22 specifically for projects to protect & restore floodplains to reduce flood risk
Parks and Recreation Trust Fund This fund supports land acquisition and improvements within the State’s park system. PARTF is the main funding source for local parkland acquisitions, facility improvements, and public beach and estuarine access.
$45.5 million new revenue in FY21-22 and $45.5 million new revenue in FY22-23
$10 million new revenue in FY21-22 specifically for local parks projects to increase access for persons with disabilities
Additional Funding for Community Resilience In recognition of North Carolina’s continued and increasing exposure to the impacts of climate change — particularly storms and flooding — this funding launches a new critical level of statewide planning and investment to support the resilience of our communities.
Nearly $200 million in resilience investments to reduce the risk of catastrophic flooding.
$40 million for a Coastal Storm Damage Mitigation Fund
$25 million for a Small Project Mitigation and Recovery Program
$20 million to create a “statewide Flood Resiliency Blueprint”
$15 million to the Land and Water Fund for floodplain projects
$15 million for a Disaster Relief and Mitigation Fund
$15 million for a Transportation Infrastructure Resilience Fund
$4 million for a Dam Safety Emergency Fund
$3.5 million for floodplain pilot projects
$1.15 million to the Resilient Coastal Communities Program
TAKE ACTION We’ve thanked legislators for these sweeping investments in conservation, but they want to hear from you, the people they represent. Join us by sending a short thank-you note to your local lawmakers for investing in our state.
Giving Thanks for Land Conservation Trusts in this Season of Gratitude
Fall is in full swing in North Carolina! During this season of gratitude, we celebrate the cooler weather that allows us to enjoy the natural beauty of our state, from mountains to the sea. Whether it’s seeing the leaves change in the Blue Ridge Mountains, walking along the coast at sunset (we have over 300 miles of ocean shoreline!), or enjoying deer hunting season, our state offers endless opportunities to relax, recharge, and reflect.
We are grateful for the dedicated work of North Carolina’s conservation organizations and our partners that make it possible to conserve the land and preserve our state. The conservation trust funds benefit us all and play an important role in supporting a healthy environment, clean water, and a vibrant economy.
North Carolina’s conservation trust funds have worked in concert to fund the projects that keep our state beautiful and help it thrive. Thanks to North Carolina’s conservation organizations, we can enjoy:
Jobs and a strong local economy in both urban and rural areas
Preservation of historically and ecologically significant places
Thriving family farms and forests
Places to exercise, hunt, fish, and watch wildlife
The conservation trust funds have been the backbone of our state’s big conservation wins throughout the decades. We applaud our legislators for prioritizing funding for the conservation projects that will protect our state for generations to come.
While the past year brought us untold challenges, it’s also brought an opportunity to step back and be grateful for our blessings. The outdoors offers us all the chance to gather with friends, connect with family, and be one with the beauty of the land.
Now we want to hear from you. What outdoor place are you thankful for in our beautiful state? Snap a photo and share it on your social media channels through Thanksgiving! Follow the hashtag #SeasonOfGratitudeNC to see other photos of favorite spots around the state.
Asheville Watershed Conservation Easement
A Strong Commitment to Public Trust and Conservation Excellence
CTNC Earns National Recognition fromLand Trust Accreditation Commission
Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC) is proud to share it has renewed its land trust accreditation – proving once again that, as part of a network of over 400 accredited land trusts across the nation, it is committed to professional excellence and to maintaining the public’s trust in its conservation work.
“Renewing our accreditation shows CTNC’s ongoing commitment to permanent land conservation in North Carolina,” said Chris Canfield, executive director. “We are a stronger organization than ever for having gone through the rigorous accreditation renewal process. Our strength means natural areas from the Blue Ridge Parkway to central North Carolina and the coastal region will be protected forever, so our communities will be more resilient for our children.”
CTNC provided extensive documentation and was subject to a comprehensive third-party evaluation prior to achieving this distinction. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded renewed accreditation, signifying its confidence that our conserved lands will be protected forever. Accredited land trusts now steward almost 20 million acres – the size of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island combined.
“It is exciting to recognize CTNC’s continued commitment to national standards by renewing this national mark of distinction,” said Melissa Kalvestrand, executive director of the Commission. “Donors and partners can trust the more than 400 accredited land trusts across the country are united behind strong standards and have demonstrated sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance, and lasting stewardship.”
Conservation Trust for North Carolina is one of 1,363 land trusts across the United States according to the Land Trust Alliance’s most recent National Land Trust Census.
About the Land Trust
The Land Trust Accreditation Commission inspires excellence, promotes public trust and ensures permanence in the conservation of open lands by recognizing organizations that meet rigorous quality standards and strive for continuous improvement. The Commission, established in 2006 as an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts. For more, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org.
Funding Critical Land Conservation in Western North Carolina
Through the Mountain Revolving Loan Fund, CTNC awards small grants to land trusts conserving critical lands in Western North Carolina.
From direct assistance with land protection to awarding small grants, CTNC is proud to work alongside and support the efforts of our land trust partners throughout North Carolina. Each year, CTNC offers low-interest loans, and awards small grants through our Mountain Revolving Loan Fund to facilitate critical conservation projects spearheaded by local land trusts in Western North Carolina.
The purpose of the Mountain Revolving Loan Fund (MRLF) is to provide bridge financing with minimal interest to North Carolina land trusts for the purchase of conservation land and easements. This fund was established with the help of a generous donor with a passion for conservation in Western North Carolina. A unique component of the MRLF Program is our small grants program, whereby CTNC awards grants of up to $25,000 each to eligible land trusts for land and easement acquisitions. Unlike the loans, these grants do not have to be paid back by the recipient.
“CTNC’s MRLF loans and grants have been crucial components of many conservation successes by our partners in Western North Carolina,” said Rusty Painter, Land Protection Director. “By the very nature of the MRLF Program, as loans are repaid, the money becomes available to re-lend, thus continually providing a stream of financing that allows land trusts to respond quickly to properties highly threatened by development. A percentage of the balance of the loan fund is given out each year in grant awards.”
Each year CTNC receives many fantastic applications from our partners. This year, CTNC awarded $113,400 to seven land trusts. Here is a list of the great projects we are proud to support:
The Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina (FCNC) was awarded $20,000 to help fund the new Oak Hill Community Park and Forest. FCNC will manage and develop this land near Morganton in central Burke County for a community park, forest, and farm. Establishing a free, public park and forest will improve the quality of life for all citizens of Burke County and Morganton through easy access to nature for passive outdoor recreation, environmental education, community agriculture, and archeological exploration.
Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) was awarded $12,650 to design the Valle Crucis Watauga River Access in Watauga County. BRC purchased the 2.5 acre property in partnership with a conservation buyer to create a public access to the Watauga River. This project is in connection with a greater mission to provide public access to land and water resources, especially recreation as this land will become a public access site for fishing, tubing and paddling.
Mainspring Conservation Trust was awarded $17,500 for their Wood Farm project in Cherokee County, an important acquisition to protect 391.53 acres of land and the largest intact farmland tract in Western North Carolina. This is a strategic acquisition for Mainspring as the land adjoins three adjacent conservation easements, which together will protect agricultural soil classified as Prime and Soil of Statewide Importance, 2- miles of Valley River (classified C and Trout Waters), and four tributary streams.
Conserving Carolinahas been awarded $15,000 to fund theFranklin Bog property that will protect over 17 acres in Henderson County. By protecting this important land tract, Conserving Carolina will prevent upland development that would impact the recent, expensive bog restoration done under the direction of expert Dennis Herman. Protecting this site will also preserve a pond adjacent to the DOT restoration site, a pond which the US Fish and Wildlife Service has documented to provide key habitat to southern bog turtles who enjoy basking at the edge of the pond. Additionally, the pond offers an excellent opportunity for restoration to enlarge the bog in the future.
Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) has been awarded $20,000for the Chestnut Mountain property to protect 448 acres in Haywood County. The majority of the property will be a conservation easement with forest and trails. SAHC is already drafting an exciting future for the location by planning to build a 91-acre “park hub” that will contain park infrastructure such as a pavilion, some parking, a bike skills progression course for all ages, and bathrooms. This large tract under protection will also permanently protect 9 miles of stream in the French Broad River Basin, as well as secure habitat for NC wildlife, including three rare species: white bear sedge, upland bladder fern and the Cherokee melanoplus grasshopper.
Piedmont Land Conservancy (PLC) has been awarded$12,500 to complete a donated easement on 322 acres of the Womble family land in Alleghany County. The property is completely undeveloped with several headwater streams and forests. This property is situated in the headwaters of the South Fork of the Mitchell River, which has been a key protection initiative of PLC since 1999. In addition to protecting Mitchell River headwaters, another conservation value of the Womble property is that it is located on the Blue Ridge Escarpment, one of the most ecologically diverse regions in North Carolina.
Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust (HCLT) has been awarded $18,350 to place a 25-acre easement on the Horse Cove Bog property in Macon County. The Horse Cove conservation easement is a new project but has been on HCLT’s high priority list since 2011, and the land trust has worked with the land owner on three other easements. The Horse Bog Cove is currently unprotected, but it holds special conservation value: it is the site of an existing bog and a wetland complex associated with seeps at the toe of Rich Mountain. The property also has a rich heritage: the valley bottom of Horse Cove is the gateway to the Highlands/Cashiers Plateau and was settled as early as 1835 to build pasture lands and homes.
These are just a few examples of critical projects CTNC is able to support in Western North Carolina with the support of generous land conservation donors. From parks to farms to bogs, CTNC is proud to support the diligent efforts of our land trust partners. The Mountain Revolving Loan Fund and small grant program serves as an important reminder that we are all allies in the work to build a more resilient and just North Carolina.
Private Investment in Watershed Protection Advances Triangle Conservation Efforts
Novel partnerships and long-term collaboration enable the region to address watershed health
North Carolina’s Triangle region (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill-Cary-Garner) is one of the fastest-growing areas in the country. Rapid development threatens the forests, wetlands and grasslands that naturally protect drinking water supplies for 600,000 people in Raleigh, Garner, Wake Forest, Rolesville, Knightdale, Wendell and Zebulon areas. Natural infrastructure, like forests and wetlands, can address these challenges by providing basic services from water flow regulation and flood control to water purification and water temperature regulation. But with the rising cost to acquire land in and around the Triangle, protecting these places has become increasingly costly for nonprofits and public agencies.
In recent years, public agencies Raleigh Water, Wake County, City of Durham and Town of Cary have worked alongside local land trusts including Conservation Trust for North Carolina, The Conservation Fund, and Triangle Land Conservancy to acquire and manage land in the Falls and Jordan Lake watersheds. Now, the Caterpillar Foundation is among corporate foundations and private investors stepping up to fill a critical funding need.
The Foundation will invest $250,000 in natural infrastructure and land conservation as part of a new partnership to safeguard important local natural lands.
“Local communities in the
Triangle Region are increasingly investing in natural infrastructure, although
the COVID-19 pandemic has strained public budgets and limited cities and their
utilities resources and capacity to protect vast watersheds at a critical
time,” said Edward Buchan, City of Raleigh.
This initiative fits into a growing movement to
integrate natural infrastructure with traditional concrete-and-steel
infrastructure to improve delivery of core services, like drinking water and
flood protection, while increasing resilience. World Resources Institute, a
global research organization, has advised this alliance on strategies to
combine “green” and “gray” infrastructure by leveraging new partnerships and
funding opportunities. The Caterpillar Foundation is one of the first corporate
foundations to develop a dedicated program to support this new approach.
“Novel partnerships and long-term collaboration are
critical to addressing watershed health across the region,” said CTNC Executive
Director Chris Canfield. “Everyone has a role to play. Public water users
provide the base funding through the utilities, land trusts collaborate on
protection plans and secure the land, and private partners like the Caterpillar
Foundation help get it all over the finish line.”
Caterpillar Foundation hopes to both accelerate the program with this new
financing and encourage volunteer engagement of their locally-based employees.
“This partnership provides us the opportunity to not only
advance an exciting new model for watershed protection, but does so in a
community in which many Caterpillar families call home,” said Caterpillar
Foundation President Asha Varghese. “We hope the success of initiatives like
this can build momentum for new environmental innovation and investment. We
believe multi-sectoral collaboration is key to achieving sustainable
infrastructure solutions, and ultimately, building resilient communities.”
“There are thousands of community water systems that
could benefit from this model to protect and manage natural infrastructure
assets,” said Todd Gartner, Director of WRI’s Cities4Forests and Natural
Infrastructure Initiatives. “Leading initiatives like this set a new high-water
mark for city-led innovation that harnesses nature’s potential to supply clean
drinking water, creates recreational opportunities, and boosts resilience.”
Foundation investment will supplement public and private funds to make possible
the acquisition of land in the Upper Neuse watershed. It will protect river and
stream frontage that are highly vulnerable to development. In addition to
ecosystem services, these natural lands provide important outdoor opportunities
for communities to connect with nature. Creating new outdoor recreational
opportunities can both stimulate the local economy and boost public health.
Little Glade Creek is Now a Permanent Piece of the Blue Ridge Parkway
Little Glade Creek is a permanently protected portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway thanks to private donors and Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC) supporters.
This quiet nook of the parkway along Little Glade Creek near Parkway milepost 228, approximately 2 miles north of Little Glade Mill Pond, enables forests on site to sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Prevention of development and impervious surfaces on the property will reduce the potential for flooding of Little Glade Creek.
Drivers along the Parkway benefit from this protection, particularly during leaf-off seasons when development on the property would have disrupted the beautiful vistas and treelines.
“North Carolina is one of the most rapidly developing states in the country and we need to protect all the open space we can,” said Rusty Painter, CTNC’s Land Protection Director. “Protecting land today ensures future generations can enjoy nature in our state.”
Protection of this property furthers CTNC’s efforts to widen the narrow corridor of protected land between Bullhead Mountain and Stone Mountain State Parks to the south and Saddle Mountain/Mitchell River Game Lands to the north. Its addition to the Parkway further enhances the Parkway’s ability to serve as a south-to-north migration corridor for species seeking a cooler climate in more northern latitudes.
CTNC purchased two adjoining properties to protect a 53-acre tract. This project shows how the protection of one property can lead to saving of others around it, amplifying the conservation benefit. CTNC transferred both tracts to the National Park Service (NPS) in fall 2022 for incorporation into the boundary of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Conservation Trust Expands Protection along Little Glade Creek and the Blue Ridge Parkway
The property contains a spring that feeds Little Glade Creek near milepost 228. Both properties provide a scenic natural buffer along the Parkway and protect Little Glade Creek from negative impacts of development. Conservation of natural buffer land along creeks and streams preserves water quality and reduces flooding risks downstream. That is particularly important in the Yadkin River basin, a river system that supplies drinking water to almost one million downstream residents in 21 counties and 93 municipalities in North Carolina.
CTNC’s purchase of the property was made possible entirely by a generous price reduction offered by the sellers and a contribution from a North Carolina couple with a passion for the Blue Ridge Parkway.
“Our family is very pleased to work with Conservation Trust to protect our property. Their work aligns with our hopes and vision for ensuring the land remains in its natural state. We are proud of the work the Conservation Trust is doing to use this land to extend the borders of the Blue Ridge Parkway, an amazingly beautiful road and a national treasure.”
“CTNC’s Little Glade Creek project adjoins the Skunk Cabbage Wetland along the Blue Ridge Parkway,” added CTNC Executive Director Chris Canfield. “Ensuring this land will never be developed, logged or otherwise degraded augments the protection of this wetland that’s already provided by the National Park Service.”
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