NC - Origins, Growth of North Carolina Land Trusts
Second in a series of columns on the origins of North Carolina’s natural heritage program and the statewide network of private land trusts conservancies.
North Carolina’s network of private, nonprofit land conservation organizations, known as land trusts or conservancies, has collectively protected nearly half-a-million acres in hundreds of locations across the state.
These land trusts are essential partners with public agencies dedicated to natural resource conservation and environmental protection. Fifteen of these local land trusts are operated by professional staff and each have annual operating budgets of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Many North Carolinians are members and financial supporters of their local land trusts, which in combination have a presence throughout the state. Many of the natural areas that have been protected by land conservation trusts are accessible and popular for public visits and enjoyment.
Additionally, land trusts have arranged conservation easement management agreements with hundreds of landowners across the state. Those easement agreements permanently assure those properties will not be intensively developed in the future and the natural resources will be carefully managed and stewarded.
Few are aware that most land trusts in North Carolina are less than 30 years old. Most were established in the short time period between 1983 to 1995.