CTNC is proud to welcome Cynthia Satterfield as the new Executive Director of our organization.
Cynthia joins us with a strong background in community-driven conservation. Her dozen years at the Tar River Land Conservancy as the Director of Development and at the Eno River Association as Director of Development and Outreach ground her in the land conservation work central to CTNC. Her most recent role as State Director of the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club expands her strategic leadership skills. Cynthia holds an English and Anthropology Bachelor’s Degree, Master of Business Administration, Certificate in Non-Profit Management and Equity Training.
Cynthia’s personal commitment to CTNC’s values of collaboration, boldness, inclusiveness, compassion, authenticity, openness, and curiosity inspired confidence in the CTNC Board.
“Cynthia’s personal commitment to CTNC’s values of collaboration, boldness, inclusiveness, compassion, authenticity, openness, and curiosity inspired confidence in the CTNC Board”, said CTNC Board President Brandon A. Robinson. “We are fully confident that the wealth of experience Cynthia brings will lead CTNC to new growth and new opportunity, making it possible to fulfill our mission of building resilient, just communities by delivering conservation solutions across the state.”
Cynthia will join CTNC officially on December 11th as Chris embarks on his retirement journey. We are excited to begin this new chapter as an organization and enter the new year as a strong-knit group of staff, board members, donors and supporters.
The beauty and unique ecology of Bald Head Island needs to be protected. The abundant nesting sea turtle population, vital maritime evergreen forest, and coastal ecosystems need specialized care to ensure they survive for generations. This summer, CTNC and partners on the island teamed up to develop a conservation prioritization tool that will inform how to deploy future work.
The Bald Head Island Conservation Prioritization Tool, developed by Hanna Bliska, a CTNC 2023 Stanback Summer Fellow, is a model that identifies individual properties on the island with the highest conservation value. This will enable Smith Island Land Trust and its partners to focus efforts and limited resources on properties with the most significant conservation impact.
To make the tool come to life, Hannah collaborated with CTNC Bald Head Island conservation partners and CTNC staff to build the prioritization tool in ArcGIS. This tool is inspired by CTNC’s Blue Ridge Parkway prioritization model that we use to streamline efforts and strategic goals. The plan focuses on protecting undeveloped land on Bald Head Island. The model has incorporated a variety of ecological data, including data on coastal and terrestrial resilience to climate change developed by The Nature Conservancy.
Undeveloped acreage is critical to both natural and human success on the island. Beyond protecting vital forested and coastal areas, these conserved acres become buffers to soften the impacts of climate change on Bald Head Island. The maps inform SILT’s communications with landowners and educate islanders about conservation opportunities. This will, in turn, ensure a resilient future for the communities that call Bald Head Island home.
The Bald Head Island Conservation Prioritization Tool further demonstrates CTNC’s commitment to creating sustainable programs in collaboration with partners to utilize data-driven approaches to conservation. SILT will maintain the tool to update it as more conservation progress is made on the island. Through partnerships like this, CTNC is helping North Carolina build resilience in the face of climate change.
Thank you to the development team – Hanna Bliska, Rusty Painter, Mary Alice Holley, and Emma Childs. Funding for the project was provided by SILT and Hannah’s time with CTNC was made possible by the Stanback Fellowship Program at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University.
State Legislators come through with a conservation win
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
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.
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.
North Carolina has seen an unprecedented investment in building resilience against the effects of our changing climate. Hundreds of millions of dollars have flowed to statewide flood resiliency modeling efforts, coastal community planning, and more. Billions of additional dollars from federal sources have also been earmarked for climate resilience.
Yet, there is a crucial next step to ensure these projects come to life: activating local community capacity. Communities across North Carolina must be able to take advantage of the information, support, and financial resources made available. CTNC has heard from nonprofit organizations and local leaders that too many communities seem to lack that needed capacity.
To begin to address this vulnerability, CTNC commissioned a study in fall 2022 to gather information and input on what role service programs might play in building community capacity around climate resilience. The resulting Resilience Service Network: Case for Support affirms that existing and new service programs are well-positioned to play a vital role in assisting communities seeking to leverage the climate resilience investments being made. Though, as the study also shows, service in North Carolina must be greatly expanded and substantively changed to realize this potential.
Fortunately, North Carolina is slated to receive significant investment in flood prevention, critical infrastructure and transportation, and other projects designed to increase resilience. These investments will provide opportunities to meet the funding levels required to realize this effort at scale. Building on existing planning efforts and financial support, the team identified flood response as an established mechanism to direct service to communities in need.
Based on the findings, this report identifies a set of summary recommendations that reflect the most common themes and opportunities for a statewide resilience service initiative.
What framing or program design steps should be taken to build a stronger service effort in North Carolina.
Start With Flood Response
Focus on Resilience
Localize to Galvanize
Reinforce What’s Working
Strategically Fill Gaps
What steps might be taken to ensure the effort is well coordinated so it can deliver the greatest impact for the state.
Adapt to Thrive
Build a Network, not a Program.
Emphasize Catalytic Over Functional Outcomes
Follow the Money / Unlock the Potential
Resilience Service Network Concept
What operational and funding design will be required to achieve success at a statewide scale.
While this study is a seed of an idea, we see great potential in service programs to help alleviate community capacity concerns, build a resilience-oriented workforce, and maximize additional investments in the state’s resilience. North Carolina is primed to lead the nation on creative and innovative solutions for climate action.
To connect with us on the Resilience Service Network, inquire about joining as a partner organization or host site, or learn more about how service programs can work in your community, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
CTNC’s latest acquisition 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 recently purchased 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 acquisition 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 look forward to transferring this property to the National Park Service. 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.
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