According to a study done by the Trust for Public Land, for every $1 invested in one of the four conservation trust funds, there is a $4 return in the form of things like drinking water, flood control and clean air - that is a 300% return on investment. Read report.
Above: Venus flytraps in NC's Green Swamp.
Land for Tomorrow is a statewide coalition of community leaders, organizations and local governments with a common goal: increasing land and water conservation. The coalition works to ensure that the state's four conservation trust funds - Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Natural Heritage Trust Fund, Parks and Recreation Trust Fund and the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund - are well funded. It is important to note that the state trust funds are rarely the sole source of funding for any project. The trust funds are used to leverage other private, local and federal funds.
Land for Tomorrow supports a Land and Water Conservation Lobby Day each spring. This is a chance for you and your peers to talk to your representatives about the importance of land and water conservation. See our event page for more information and to register.
North Carolina leaders have traditionally been forward-thinking, creating the trust funds and continuing to fund them over the years. This smart leadership has resulted in the preservation of hundreds of thousands of acres of family farms, forests, stream banks, game lands, parks, greenways and trails.
And while conservation has kept many areas natural, it has also played a major role in the state's economy, boosting agriculture, tourism, forestry, hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching. The trust funds are constantly under threat for reduction or elimination - that's why it's so important to continually advocate for them.
Land for Tomorrow publishes an annual report (formerly known as the Green Book) to provide an update on the current state of conservation funding in North Carolina. It lists (by county) all of the conservation projects ever funded by the trust funds. An impressive list indeed! See the 2011 Green Book.
The state’s travel and tourism industry, which contributes $18.4 billion a year to the economy and more than 188,000 jobs for North Carolinians and has been a proven job creator even in a down economy, is clearly tied to land and water conservation. People come here to enjoy places such as Grandfather Mountain and Chimney Rock state parks, both of which used the state’s conservation trust funds to leverage other funding for their protection.
The state’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund has helped to add more than 170,000 acres to Wildlife Resource Commission game lands. Additional trust fund dollars have helped to preserve mountain streams, ensuring that trout fishermen have a place to drop a line.
Clean air, clean water, and the continued availability of agricultural land are vital to agriculture. It can be argued that virtually every dollar spent on conservation benefits agriculture in some way.
Land and water conservation have also been crucial to “BRAC-proofing” North Carolina’s military bases, ensuring that they stay open and continue to pump $23.4 billion a year in to the economy. The state’s conservation trust funds have leveraged Department of Defense funding to preserve 16 miles of base boundary at Fort Bragg and 50,000 acres around Camp Lejeune. Preventing incompatible uses around those bases helps to ensure that they remain a vital part of the state’s economy.
Debbie Crane does marketing and communications for the North Carolina Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Laura Smith does communications and philanthropy work.