Help us send a big thank you to North Carolina’s legislators and governor for allocating over $100 million to the conservation trust funds and other conservation projects in the 2023 State Budget. This funding will benefit people and our land for generations to come.
Land for Tomorrow is a statewide coalition of community leaders, conservation, and wildlife organizations, and parks and recreation advocates with a common goal: increasing land and water conservation in North Carolina. The state’s three conservation trust funds, the North Carolina Land and Water Trust Fund (NCLWF), the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF), and the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund (ADFPTF) are essential tools that allow state agencies and nonprofit partners to protect North Carolina’s valuable natural resources.
The Coalition recognizes these conservation heroes who went the extra mile to protect our state’s most loved places. The Land for Tomorrow Coalition applauds the following legislators:
If you have time, please send a thank you note to your local legislators for protecting our state’s natural resources through the budget this year. Their perseverance in protecting this funding should be commended.
CTNC is dedicated to stewarding smart conservation policies for the benefit of North Carolina’s resilient communities. Join us in supporting this important mission.
We’re delighted to welcome the latest cohort of service members with the Resilience Corps NC program. These members, working at placements across North Carolina, are able to fill in areas of need through their host sites that are connected to various diverse communities, building a resilient North Carolina. Their work includes community outreach, environmental education, and environmental stewardship.
Building a resilient community begins with education and the power of knowledge. Having AmeriCorps members within the communities build capacity within and outside their host sites creates a positive impactful domino effect that will be long lasting after their service terms are over.
Here’s where our 2023-24 AmeriCorps members are serving:
Anna Behnke Conservation Trust for North Carolina
Austin Duncan Central Pines Regional Council
Christopher Perdomo Piedmont Environmental Alliance
The town of Princeville knows that well, as do many climate-impacted towns in North Carolina. A spot of historic and devastating flooding as well as every-day challenges resulting from nuisance flooding, this town invested in building natural stormwater capture devices while enhancing once-vacant land throughout the community.
In the summer of 2023, CTNC spearheaded a project to install green infrastructure with wetland enhancement projects on vacant, town-owned parcels along the Tar River. These are now sites where stormwater can naturally flow and reduce nuisance flooding that causes inconveniences to residents, roads, and neighborhoods in populated areas. The project created 6,000 square feet of stormwater retention strategies, including bioretention cells and rain gardens designed to hold 27,740 gallons of water per rain event.
Princeville elected leaders worked with residents and partners to identify three locations throughout town where standing water was already creating safety hazards following large rain events. By turning these sites into managed wetland areas with trees, shrubs, and pollinator plants, each site can now absorb stormwater and address standing water issues. This is all while beautifying each plot with seasonal colorful blooms and leaves, supporting native wildlife, including birds and other pollinators.
GARDENS ARE READY TO BLOOM
Site 1 is located at Town Hall and Freedom Hill to help add stormwater runoff at a high-traffic intersection of Princeville. The site includes NC native pollinator plants including Soft Rush, Walker’s Low Catmint, and Black-eyed Susan.
Site 2 is located at the corner of Church and Walston Streets, and Site 3 is located at the corner of Beasley and Walston Streets. These locations were selected due to their proximity to the elementary school rain garden installations completed in 2020.
The project is continuing with an important science component. The Town of Princeville seeks to incorporate community education into every conservation project that takes place. In the case of the stormwater infrastructure improvements, CTNC received funding from TELUS to purchase sensors that track the water absorption rate of the wetland areas. These sensors are offered by Temboo, a technology company that utilizes data to engage communities in understanding their environmental impact locally. The sensors will be installed this summer and will collect data that will be shared with town leaders, educators, students and families to showcase the importance of conservation as a natural solution to flooding and other climate-related issues being experienced by Princeville and surrounding communities.
RAIN GARDENS & WETLAND ENHANCEMENTS OFFER A CLIMATE SOLUTION
Communities across North Carolina are experiencing greater occurrences of precipitation and rain events that cause minor and major flooding. Conservation solutions, like installing rain gardens and other stormwater management techniques, are a great way to manage flood water while benefiting communities and residents. These types of installations are beautiful, offer a benefit to wildlife like birds and pollinators, effectively manage stormwater, naturally filter contaminants from water flow before it reaches a river or stream, and are low maintenance options for long-term care. CTNC supports natural solutions like stormwater infrastructure to benefit communities seeking to build resilience to flood challenges exacerbated by our changing climate.
The stormwater designs and plant selections were created by NC State Coastal Dynamics Design Lab based on recommendations from the Princeville Community Floodprint. It was informed by input from Princeville residents and approved by the Town of Princeville Board of Commissioners. The project will be installed by M&M Landscaping – a local contracting partner participating in the conservation projects being funded through CTNC.
Funding for this project was generously provided by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation EJ4Climate grant.
Stella’s Acres Joins Another CTNC-Protected Parkway Property
A Full Circle Moment for Blue Ridge Parkway Land Protection
In June, CTNC secured another 36 acres of pristine protected views along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The property known as Stella’s Acres abuts the very first property CTNC ever conveyed to the Blue Ridge Parkway – our 22-acre Redbank Cove property, donated to the National Park Service in 1997.
This new plot lies along Timberlane Road, just northeast of Balsam in Haywood County. The tract adjoins the Parkway at milepost 442. Protection of the land will enlarge the protected habitat connection between the Parkway and the 328-acre Haywood County Community College conservation easement property.
“We are thrilled to announce this success and look forward to celebrating the transfer of the property to the Blue Ridge Parkway in the very near future. We are especially grateful for the generosity of the land donors and the support of National Park Service staff, without whom we could not carry out this important work,” said Rusty Painter, CTNC Land Protection Director.
A stream originating on the property flows into Richland Creek, which continues into the Town of Waynesville through a municipal park and Richland Creek Greenway. Protection of this headwater stream further ensures clean water from the source to communities downstream. Furthermore, protecting headwater streams helps mitigate the impacts of downstream flooding during heavy rain events.
This is a value add for climate mitigation as the property’s mature hardwood forest allows for carbon sequestration from the atmosphere and protection of carbon stored in the soil. Additionally, CTNC’s protection of the property expands protected acreage along the Parkway’s south-to-north habitat migration corridor, enabling plants and animals to escape to northern latitudes with cooler climates.
Millions of visitors to the Parkway (locals and tourists) will benefit from protection of scenic properties like Stella’s Acres and others like it. The property is visible from the Parkway, especially while driving north from Balsam Gap Overlook, as most of the tract rises upslope from the Parkway toward the ridge of Wesner Bald. At its closest point, the property is as little as 320 feet from the Parkway motor road. The property is also highly visible from a nearby section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. While not accessible by public transportation, the Blue Ridge Parkway is free to all visitors, unlike many national parks that charge user fees. Public access to nature is always a value add.
Thank you to the National Park Service, previous landowners Charles & Donna Bryan, and our corporate donor for making this project possible. The property will be donated to the National Park Service in the next few years.
This is the 76th property CTNC has protected along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Still, more is needed, as most land visible from the Blue Ridge Parkway is privately owned with no land use restrictions, leaving it vulnerable to destructive land uses that can compromise the scenic views that attract millions of visitors each year.
The streets of Princeville are now lined with flowering native trees, thanks to your support and federal grant funding. This beautification project puts down roots for future flood resilience and carbon sequestration.
The project, completed in the spring of 2023, planted 50 native trees along streets within Princeville’s historic core. Trees were selected through a community-input process where residents were invited to learn about the ecological benefits of street trees and vote for their favorite trees. The trees selected were eastern serviceberry, red maple, and musclewoods.
The trees were chosen for their ability to:
Provide beautification to Main Street and surrounding neighborhoods,
Showcasing seasonal colorful blooms and leaves,
Support native wildlife, including birds and other pollinators,
Absorb stormwater from flood-prone areas and carbon from the atmosphere, and
Reduce the temperature of sidewalks for pedestrians.
Conservation can provide solutions for communities seeking to build resilience to projected and future climate change impacts – including flood, fire, drought, and food insecurity. Tree planting projects – also known as urban greening – that increase the number of small and medium trees located within a town footprint are known to provide multiple climate and community benefits, including:
Combat air and noise pollution
Soak up rainwater that may otherwise create flooding
Create a habitat for local wildlife
Offset carbon emissions in the local area
Increase resident satisfaction with physical and mental health benefits
In partnership with the Town of Princeville, the tree plan was designed by NC State Coastal Dynamics Design Lab based on recommendations from the Princeville Community Floodprint. It was informed by input from a Princeville resident online survey and approved by the Town of Princeville Board of Commissioners. The trees were installed by M&M Landscaping – a local contracting partner participating in the conservation projects being funded through CTNC.
The partnership with the Town of Princeville is ongoing, and the need to address stormwater and flooding challenges is great. With additional funding and coordination with the local community, we plan to expand our footprint and include more tree plantings in future years. Be part of helping build a more resilient North Carolina. Explore your donation opportunities now.
CTNC’s ongoing partnership with the National Park Service enhances the community resiliency and visitor experience for residents and visitors of Western North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Conservation Trust for North Carolina has transferred 408 acres of forestland near the intersection of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Highway 421 at Deep Gap. The property adjoins the Parkway between milepost 272 (Cascades Parking Area) and 273.5 near Elk Mountain Overlook, at E.B. Jeffress Park.
This land adjoins the Blue Ridge Parkway along its western and northern boundaries and is located just below Tompkins Knob Overlook, near the Cascades Trail and E.B. Jeffress Park picnic area. It lies along the Blue Ridge Escarpment, with its higher elevations visible from the Blue Ridge Parkway and parts of the popular Cascades hiking trail. It also provides a natural buffer for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail that parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway along the northern boundary of the property and the 0.6-mile Tompkins Knob trail to Tompkins Knob Overlook above the property.
This latest conservation project builds on continuing efforts to expand public land around Jeffress Park, named for a native North Carolinian who was instrumental in routing the Blue Ridge Parkway through Western NC. This newly protected property is a key part of CTNC and Blue Ridge Conservancy’s conservation work in this area. Jeffress Park is the largest block of protected land along the 55-mile stretch of Parkway between Moses Cone Park and Doughton Park. Millions of visitors to the Parkway (locals and tourists) will benefit from the expansion of this ‘conservation node’ that’s a popular destination for tourists and locals from Boone, North Wilkesboro, and Winston-Salem.
Expansion of protected land along the Blue Ridge Parkway enhances its importance and effectiveness as a south-to-north habitat migration corridor, enabling plants and animals seeking cooler climates to migrate to northern latitudes. This property also allows species to move upward from the foothills to cooler sites at higher elevations. The permanently protected forests on this property will continue to sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Protection of headwater streams will help mitigate the impacts of downstream flooding during heavy rain events.
This conservation achievement was made possible by the generosity of the landowners who donated a portion of land value that reduced the overall purchase cost. This reduction enabled CTNC to purchase the property and secure another win for America’s most popular National Park unit. We’re proud to have facilitated the acquisition and transfer of this property to the National Park Service for permanent protection.
With three other nearby and adjoining properties already transferred to the park service by CTNC, and another pending conveyance of 72 acres by Blue Ridge Conservancy, the amount of public land around E.B. Jeffress Park will collectively almost double.
Your donations help us to continue the expansion of protected property in Western North Carolina. Thank you for your continued support of our work as we expand the boundaries of the Blue Ridge Parkway one property at a time.
Landowners participating in the Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project.
Training Future Practitioners to Protect Heirs Property Landowners
As much as 4% of all property in North Carolina is held as heirs’ property, yet only a handful of organizations in North Carolina provide legal services to protect landowners. This land, valued at approximately $2 billion, should be retained by families instead of being lost through forced partition sales.
Thanks to the support of an anonymous donor and the NC Heirs’ Property Coalition, CTNC has pledged $50,000 to fund the new Heirs’ Property Project of the Wake Forest Law Environmental Law and Policy Clinic. Now, families facing heirs’ property difficulties can receive direct legal services from skilled attorneys and law students. Beyond legal help, this project strives to support, train, and provide a framework for other legal practitioners, to help stem the rate of land loss in North Carolina due to forced partition sales.
This project will help folks keep property in their families, resist unwanted development, enhance their farming or forestry practices, and build wealth to weather natural disasters and economic downturn. By addressing heirs’ property, families can create a legal structure for managing their land as a performing asset over the long term.
New Frontier For Protecting Heirs’ Property The project also builds a new node in the network of organizations tackling heirs’ property issues and addressing land loss among African-Americans, Native Americans, and other disadvantaged communities in North Carolina. The Clinic will build capacity for future efforts to resolve heirs’ property in North Carolina, and potentially serve as a model for other law school clinical projects in the Southeast. Organizations working on heirs’ property issues, including the Land Loss Prevention Project, Legal Aid of North Carolina, and Black Family Land Trust, have supported launching a law school clinical project to reinforce their own efforts.
Working with partner organizations, the Heirs’ Property Project will provide direct legal representation alongside conflict resolution and land management support. The Heirs’ Property Project will assist in three ways:
By providing direct representation to heirs’ property owners,
By building a pipeline of lawyers trained to handle heirs’ property cases, and
By serving as a hub for research and interdisciplinary training on land rights issues in North Carolina.
In addition to producing a pipeline of students with training in heirs’ property issues, the project will engage students and scholars in research on land rights’ issues, contributing to practical knowledge about the prevalence, consequences, and social context of heirs’ property—as well as to broader conversations about the economic, social, and political trajectory of rural spaces.
Conversations are underway as to how heirs’ property issues can be included in Wake Forest Law’s curriculum more generally as well. Most importantly, the project will convene expert practitioners to provide training in heirs’ property and related issues to practicing North Carolina attorneys, and to foster an interdisciplinary approach to supporting rural communities as they protect and steward their land. The project will partner with other North Carolina law schools and organizations to help address heirs’ property issues in the state at scale.
The Heirs’ Property Project at Wake Forest will convene a Board of Advisors to provide collaboration and support to students and families. Director of Community Innovation Mary Alice Holley will represent CTNC as a member of the board.
Other coalition members have also pledged to find funding to support this effort over the next two years in addition to our ongoing effort to encourage the NC Legislature to adopt the Uniform Act for NC.
What is Heirs’ Property? When landowners die without a will, their surviving family members are each left with a fractional interest that lacks many legal protections and privileges. Such land, called “heirs’ property,” is concentrated in communities of color and low-income communities. Owners of heirs’ property face unique difficulty improving their land, stewarding its environmental condition, and securing it against predatory development.
Holding land as tenants in common and heirs’ property can make the property vulnerable to forced sale. When family members decide they want to sell their share, or a non-family member or developer acquires a share of the property, they may be able to force the partition of the property into smaller pieces, thus fragmenting the land. They may also be able to force the sale of the property without a right of first refusal for other family members or a guarantee of fair market value.
Holding land as heirs’ property can make it difficult or impossible to access credit markets, as clear title cannot be demonstrated. It can also slow or frustrate access to government support for agriculture and/or disaster aid.
Led by a supervising attorney, this project will enroll ten or more students each semester to provide legal services to clients referred from partner organizations. The project will represent heirs’ property owners as they clear title to their land, resolve adjacent legal issues like boundary disputes, and navigate state and federal land management programs—partnering with the Wake Forest Divinity School to provide clients with skilled support for family decision-making processes, as well as with environmental experts to support heirs’ property owners in stewarding their land. Embracing the model of community lawyering, we also expect the project to serve as a legal advisor and first point of contact for local community organizations confronting threats to rural land and community autonomy.
Thank You to Generous Funders Thanks to donors and supporters, the project launched in January 2023 and is funded through December 2024. Additional thanks to the Skadden Foundation, Wake Forest University’s Provost Office, American Farmland Trust, and Black Family Land Trust for helping make this project a reality.
At the core of Conservation Trust for North Carolina’s ability to deliver conservation success alongside community partners is a commitment to support the health and well-being of our staff and their families. In order to more fully institutionalize a values-driven approach to delivering our mission, the CTNC Board of Directors adopted an employee-forward handbook that incorporates best practices in race equity and inclusive nonprofit management.
In recognition of this accomplishment, CTNC became a Family Forward NC Certified Employer through Family Forward NC. Family Forward NC, an initiative of the nonprofit North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF), designates employers that offer policies and practices that support the health and well-being of working families and children using NCECF’s Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Measures of Success and Action Framework and guidance from medical and early childhood organizations across NC and the country.
At CTNC, we support our employees and their families by prioritizing a transparent and supportive suite of policies including an expanded PTO and holiday observance calendar, 100% of health benefits offered, 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, and a sabbatical incentive following five years of service.
Family-friendly workplaces have a competitive advantage. But more importantly, for children and families, the benefits of family-friendly workplaces are numerous and long-lasting. They include positive impacts on health, development and well-being, financial stability, and future career success.
Children whose parents have access to family-friendly benefits receive much-needed support and time with their parents during the most critical years of brain development. This leads to positive health outcomes, higher education attainment, and future career success. Pregnant workers and parents and caregivers who have access to family-friendly benefits also have improved health outcomes and are happier and more productive at work.
We’re proud to be a Family Forward NC Certified Employer. To learn more about Family Forward NC, visit www.familyforwardnc.com.
Together, we can continue to ensure North Carolina is prosperous and resilient; working parents and caregivers are supported; and our state’s children have a strong foundation for academic and career success in the future.
After six years serving as Conservation Trust for North Carolina’s Executive Director, Chris Canfield announces his retirement. Chris will continue to serve in this role until December 2023.
With Chris’ guidance, CTNC has grown its role as a conservation leader for North Carolina and nationwide. Together, the Board and staff have solidified an organizational commitment to conserving land in ways that inspire and enable people to build greater resilience to the impacts of a changing climate while ensuring the long-term financial sustainability of the organization.
Chris’ legacy leaves CTNC and the conservation landscape of North Carolina on a trajectory of success. During this time, CTNC:
adopted a nationally-renowned strategic plan that centers climate resilience and race equity in conservation strategies;
established an ongoing commitment to race equity practice through a revised DEI assessment, work plan, and focus to ensure conservation strategies provide an outsized benefit to traditionally marginalized groups;
centered people and communities in the role of conservation;
balanced the organization’s budget while maintaining nearly $1M in reserve assets;
laid the groundwork to launch an endowment fund to ensure the long-term sustainability of CTNC;
and oversaw the acquisition and transfer of prime conserved lands to the National Park Service along the Blue Ridge Parkway to ensure their permanent protection.
Through these foundational investments, CTNC will carry this spirit of innovation forward. The Board of Directors will be leading a national search for a new Executive Director. CTNC is confident we have built an organization that will invite a dynamic leader to guide our work into the future.
Beyond his impact on CTNC, Chris has dedicated his career to protecting our most precious natural resources. Before joining CTNC, Chris worked with the National Audubon Society for 17 years as the executive director of Audubon North Carolina and VP for the Gulf and Mississippi Flyway. Chris led Audubon’s response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. He successfully implemented Gulf-wide conservation efforts in concert with federal and state agencies, local communities, land trusts, and national funders. In 2009 he was awarded the Charles H. Callison Award, Audubon’s highest recognition for staff conservation achievement.
The staff, board, and nonprofit partners will miss Chris’ vision and leadership significantly. Upon retirement, Chris will focus on enjoying our state’s beauty and life with his wife and family.
“I have felt the tug toward retirement for a while. My wife Kate is ready for us to share some new adventures while we have the time and health to do so. Now, with CTNC on such solid footing, I feel able and ready to take this next step.”
Chris’s goal as Executive Director was to build the state’s most sustainable, well-rounded, people-forward organization poised to tackle the growing challenges presented by our changing climate. There will be opportunities throughout the year to thank Chris for his dedication to our organization and the state. Please keep an eye out on your email and mailbox for forthcoming announcements.
This past Valentine’s Day, CTNC gave another gift of land to the National Park Service. CTNC donated its 21-acre Woodfin Creek Headwaters property to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The property contains the headwaters of Woodfin Creek and offers scenic views from the Blue Ridge Parkway, the most-visited unit of the National Park Service. It is an example of a successful public-private partnership that benefits all of us who appreciate public lands and the natural beauty of Western North Carolina.
“We are extremely grateful for a generous landowner who was willing to donate property to CTNC to help us achieve our shared goals of permanently protecting the places we all love,” said Rusty Painter, Land Protection Director. “The Woodfin Creek Headwaters property is a shining example of how one person’s generosity can benefit many people, including generations to come.”
The Woodfin Creek Headwaters property is nestled within the Mount Lyn Lowry – Campbell Creek State Natural Area, as designated by the NC Natural Heritage Program. According to the site report prepared by ecologist Owen Carson with Equinox Environmental, globally-significant pockets of spruce-fir forests like those found on this property are characteristic of forest types found as far north as Canada. Mr. Carson’s site report states that the property “contains a wealth of existing conservation values and has the potential to support a considerable number of rare plant and animal species.”
The Woodfin Creek Headwaters is visible when driving south along the Blue Ridge Parkway toward Waterrock Knob. The tourism economy of Western NC is highly dependent on undisturbed views from the Parkway and its hiking trails and other amenities. Most land visible from the Blue Ridge Parkway is still privately owned, with no land use restrictions, leaving it vulnerable to destructive land uses that can compromise the scenic views that attract millions of visitors each year.
This donation furthers CTNC’s mission to deliver conservation that is inclusive, supportive and meaningful conservation for all communities. This area contributes to so many bottom lines that impact North Carolina:
Climate Resilience – Expansion of protected land along the Blue Ridge Parkway enhances its importance & effectiveness as a south-to-north habitat migration corridor, enabling plants and animals to migrate to northern latitudes to cooler climates. The permanently protected forests on this property will continue to sequester carbon from the atmosphere.
Community – Millions of visitors to the Parkway (local and tourists) will benefit from scenic protection. Land conservation around Waterrock Knob has been a multi-partner effort over the past ten years, including local and national land trusts and the National Park Service. Expansion of this ‘conservation node’ enhances recreation opportunities benefiting nearby communities, including the Qualla Boundary, owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Equity – While not accessible by public transportation, the Blue Ridge Parkway is free to all visitors, unlike many national parks that charge user fees.
The property was generously donated by a real estate investor based in Florida in 2017. Donations by supporters like you covered the transaction-related costs of accepting and holding the property until it was donated to the National Park Service. Thank you to all who support our work!
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.