While 2020 saw many closures and restrictions due to the pandemic, one thing wasn’t restricted by COVID-19: the outdoors. North Carolina saw a record-number of visitors – 19.9 million in 2020 – to NC State Parks as we rediscovered our state’s bounty, from mountains to coast. That was 400,000 more visitors than any other year on record.
This week, we’re recognizing the role that land plays in every aspect of our lives, from recreation to economic development. We hope you’ll join us in celebrating and protecting this land now and for the future.
A new study by RTI International shows that the time is now for increasing public land and water conservation funding. North Carolina is the eighth fastest growing state in the nation and that projected growth will lead to the loss of 2 million acres of undeveloped land in the next 30 years. This loss affects not only our options for outdoor recreation, but flood protection, buffering of mission-critical military bases and more.
The state’s conservation trust funds ensure that the North Carolina Land and Water Trust Fund (NCLWF), Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF), and the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund (ADFPTF) are fully funded to be safeguards for our beloved natural spaces. These funds enable conservation groups like SAHC to continue working with our state partners to protect valuable natural resources, ensuring that both current and future generations will continue to enjoy and benefit from all our land has to offer.
Some of your favorite conservation projects have been made possible by funding from these NC state conservation trust funds – such as the Chestnut Mountain project enabling the creation of a public park just outside the Town of Canton and the recent preservation of 111 acres at Sinkhole Creek Farm – a productive multi-generation family farm in the Highlands of Roan.
NC state legislators alone determine the conservation trust funds. Every year, they decide how much is allocated to protect our state’s clean water, parks and recreation land and farmland preservation. That work is more important than ever as more and more people enjoy our state’s lands. An increase in usage means an increase in our need to ensure the resilience and protection of our lands. At its peak in 2008, the trust funds awarded more than $155 million. Last year, only $29.9 million was awarded.
Now is the perfect time to invest in our state. North Carolina is ready to welcome people back to our parks as a safe way to engage with the world around us, bringing tourism back and boosting our economy. Help us make sure that this land is protected for everyone.
Ways you can get involved:
- Email your legislator – Share your reasons for wanting to protect the conservation trust funds. Here is an example email to get you started.
Hello [Legislator Name],
As a constituent, I just wanted to write you to say THANK YOU!
I’m grateful that you’ve shown efforts to protect our state’s beautiful natural spaces. It’s the diligent work of our legislators, like you, that has protected our state’s conservation trust funds over the last few years.
The continued effects of COVID-19 mean continuing to make lots of tough decisions. I can’t imagine the pressure you face on these decisions. But I hope you consider protecting the conservation trust funds to ensure that nature continues to be a respite and place of safe connection for so many.
Please make a special effort this year to protect North Carolina’s conservation trust funds in 2021. Our natural spaces are counting on you.
- Share on social media – Share a photo or video about the land you’ve enjoyed and want to protect using #land4tomorrow with your Twitter or Instagram.
- Thank your legislators on social media – Let them know we appreciate their support of NC land and water resources