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N.C. Budget is a Huge Win for Conservation

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.

Other Highlights

  • $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.

Investing dividends in Western NC

Facilitating the permanent protection of land in Western North Carolina for future generations is the purpose of CTNC’s Mountain Revolving Loan Fund (MRLF). This fund often allows land trusts to get a project over the finish line.

The CTNC Mountain Revolving Loan Fund provides two benefits for land conservation:

  • It provides bridge financing with minimal interest to land trusts in Western North Carolina for the purchase of 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.

This year, CTNC is pleased to fund six different land acquisition projects to five land trusts totaling over $111,000. Congratulations to Blue Ridge Conservancy, Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina, Conserving Carolina, Piedmont Land Conservancy, and Mainspring Conservation Trust for receiving awards during this grant cycle.

This investment will help permanently protect and manage 612 acres of land in Western North Carolina. We’re proud to support the work of our partner land trusts in this way.

These grants are made possible by the support of generous CTNC donors. These investments make a lasting impact on their communities and permanently protect critical conservation land in Western North Carolina that might otherwise be developed. By working in collaboration with the greater land trust community, CTNC is able to help our partners protect additional land beyond our own focus area along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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.

Princeville Elementary School teachers volunteer during a community planting day.

We did it, and YOU made it possible!

The first phase of CTNC’s work with and for the Town of Princeville is complete, and the students at Princeville Elementary School are so excited to have the outdoor learning lab, educational signage, and the Heritage Trail.

None of this would have been possible without your investment in our vision of community-led conservation.

Princeville Heritage Trail
The newly created Heritage Trail will connect Princeville Elementary to the history museum.
Princeville Youth Crew
Members of the Conservation Corps North Carolina summer youth crew who executed the work.
Princeville Rain Garden
Rain gardens designed by NC State Coastal Dynamics Design Lab will capture stormwater run-off from the roof before it flows into the Tar River.
Princeville Education Stations
Education Stations built for teachers and students by NC State Design + Build Lab.

Community-led conservation looks different than typical conservation, but it makes an outsized impact for North Carolinians. By being welcomed into the long-term, collaborative work in Princeville, we at CTNC have been welcomed into a much larger community of organizations and agencies looking at resilience across the entire state. By collaborating with local residents, we show conservation can be a tool to protect culturally significant land and provide tangible benefits through youth conservation programming, educational installations, and flood mitigation.

With your investment in our work, CTNC can continue to partner with communities around the state to build a model for community resilience.

Please considering donating today.

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.”

The 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.”

The Caterpillar 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.

In Raleigh, the average water customer pays an additional $0.57 per month, which contributes funds toward the protection of thousands of acres of crucial natural lands through the Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative, a program of Raleigh Water. For more information on collaborative watershed protection and restoration efforts spearheaded by public and private partnerships in the Triangle, visit upstreammatters.org.

Protecting another 23-acres in Western NC

Conservation Trust Expands Protection along Little Glade Creek and the Blue Ridge Parkway

Raleigh, N.C. Another important property along the Blue Ridge Parkway is now permanently protected, having recently been acquired by the Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC). CTNC purchased the 23-acre property at a discounted price. This is a strategic acquisition because the tract adjoins a 31-acre property already owned by CTNC. CTNC will transfer both tracts to the National Park Service (NPS) for incorporation into the boundary of 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.”

Lynne Drewes

“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.”

Conservation Trust for North Carolina has now conserved 70 properties on the Blue Ridge Parkway, totaling 34,614 acres. Blue Ridge Conservancy and Piedmont Land Conservancy also conserve land in Alleghany County.


For additional information contact Director of Community Innovation Mary Alice Holley.

Three Key Properties Totaling 123 Acres Donated to Blue Ridge Parkway

Latest Donations to Expand Conserved Area Surrounding Waterrock Knob

Raleigh, N.C. – Conservation Trust for North Carolina recently donated three properties totaling 123-acres to the National Park Service (NPS) for addition to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The land, made up of three tracts, contains a significant section of Woodfin Creek upstream of the Woodfin Cascades, between Parkway mileposts 446 and 450 in Jackson County. Each of the tracts adjoin other properties protected by CTNC that will also be donated to NPS for inclusion in the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail, which hikers can access directly off the Parkway at Woodfin Cascades Overlook, hugs the boundary of two of the tracts. The third property rises to 6,000-feet elevation and hosts a healthy population of native spruce. All of the land is highly visible from Waterrock Knob and is part of a growing area of protected public land around Waterrock Knob near Cherokee and the southern terminus of the Parkway.

Hiker stands on a bridge along the MST.

“This is a region that attracts millions of visitors each year due to its natural beauty and unique heritage, said Conservation Trust for NC’s executive director Chris Canfield.  “Our partnership with the National Park Service, local communities, and other land conservation organizations ensures all these qualities will endure for generations.”

CTNC owns three more adjoining properties that will also be donated to the NPS and has already donated four others in the immediate area totaling 205 acres. These transactions are part of a collaborative effort to bolster the area’s resilience to climate change, protect water quality in the Little Tennessee River basin, and strengthen the local economy by expanding tourism and outdoor recreation opportunities.

A creek found on the low-elevation tract of the property

“We are proud to have partners like the Conservation Trust for North Carolina who value the preservation of land for the protection of imperiled natural communities and for the enjoyment of future generations,” said Acting Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent Neal Labrie. “We are happy to do this important work together.”

Conservation Trust purchased these properties in 2013 below appraised value. In addition to the seller’s generous donation, the purchase was made possible by Fred and Alice Stanback of Salisbury, N.C.

Conservation Trust for North Carolina has conserved 70 properties on the Blue Ridge Parkway, totaling 34,614 acres. Other land trusts that conserve the land surrounding Waterrock Knob include: The Conservation Fund; The Nature Conservancy; Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy; Mainspring Conservation Trust; Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust; and Conserving Carolina.

Map of protected lands around Waterrock Knob

For additional information contact Mary Alice Holley, CTNC Communications Director at 919-864-0428.

AmeriCorps Members Respond to COVID-19 Pandemic

Living our values, CTNC AmeriCorps members respond to the needs of communities through service

Since the COVID-19 pandemic was first reported in North Carolina, we have seen real heroes in action: doctors, nurses, health care professionals, grocery store workers, food suppliers and the many other selfless individuals on the front lines of the pandemic. These unsung heroes have helped us navigate one of the strangest and most difficult moments in many of our lives while selflessly working to keep us safe and secure.

CTNC’s AmeriCorps service members have also answered the call to serve as seven members have worked on the front lines of our communities to support local food security organizations. These individuals are delivering goods to the people of the state through Durham FEAST, Meals on Wheels of Gaston County, the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina in Durham and Wilmington, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, and more locations. 

Volunteers are currently serving with Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and other community partners in need. Credit: Emma Jablonski/Keep Durham Beautiful AmeriCorps Member

Responding to a growing need for capacity and support

Now, the AmeriCorps program will move forward in taking advantage of new rules laid out by the CARES Act passed by the United States Congress by partnering with direct service relief agencies to place new members with more organizations. These nonprofits and organizations of faith fall outside of CTNC AmeriCorps’ charge to deliver environmental education to children and families, however, with an experienced program staff, CTNC has the ability to serve the most vulnerable through these federal resources.

From May to December, CTNC will hire over 20 NEW AmeriCorps members to serve in organizations that are responding to the needs of communities who face challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. These organizations have set goals to deliver hot meals, provide food security, address housing insecurity, connect food to rural and urban families in need, connect Latinx communities to vital COVID-19 information, and offer volunteer services.

Partners include Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, Dig In! of Yancey County, Meals on Wheels of Wake County, Durham Co-Op Extension, El Futuro, Oak City Cares and more. 

Not only will these new AmeriCorps members build capacity for local disaster groups to more effectively deliver goods and services, but CTNC is helping individuals regain meaningful employment that entitles them to a living allowance and an education award. In this spirit of collaboration and partnership, CTNC has identified a unique way for our organization to respond to communities’ needs in the wake of an unprecedented disaster.

Even though we find ourselves isolated from friends, family, and work colleagues through social distancing, community-driven support is more critical than ever!

We will share more about this disaster response effort in the coming weeks and months. To stay up to date with CTNC’s community-driven projects and service programs, join the conversation.

Asheville River Park

Complete Our Supporter Survey

You have a voice and we want to hear it!

Here at CTNC, we are always looking to make sure we are serving communities across North Carolina in the best, most effective ways possible. And who knows more about your community than you?

In less than 15 minutes, help CTNC understand why you care about conserving land in North Carolina and what you want to see from us in the coming year.

It’s simple. 

We aren’t asking tough questions — we just want to know about your connection to CTNC, your conservation passions, and your goals for the future of our work.  With your help, we will have enough information to prepare for our future projects.

Do you want more to see more work involving:

  • How to seed diversity, equity and inclusion through conservation?
  • Service projects through AmeriCorps and Conservation Internships?
  • The beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway and land acquisition?

Tell us!

We’re looking forward to learning how we can best serve you and your community through our conservation work in 2020 and for generations to come!


Take the survey here.

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