Public Policy

Conservation in Raleigh and Washington D.C.

Influencing Public Policy

The North Carolina chapter works at both the state and federal level to try to further conservation funding and other initiatives. Read on this page about:

  • Our state's four Conservation Trust Funds
  • Our biggest federal initiative, the Land and Water Conservation Fund
  • Climate Change, Marine Spatial Planning, and Energy and Biomass policy

Public Funding

Achieving successful conservation of habitats through protected areas, whether an individual site or a national system, requires funding.

The Nature Conservancy works with other agencies and organizations to identify and generate funds for conservation from federal, state and local sources. This means that we work closely with the North Carolina Legislature, North Carolina's members of the U.S. Congress, other government officials, and national, state and local conservation organizations. We also raise money from foundations and private donors. All of this is to ensure that sufficient funds are being directed toward conservation.

Afield Spring 2011 Cover Picture


TNC works with Land for Tomorrow, one of our state's strongest environmental coalitions, to secure conservation funding through North Carolina's four trust funds. Our state is unique and fortunate to have these resources to protect some of our most valuable places. Much of the land TNC buys is sold to the state, TNC being the quick-acting intermediary, and this is paid for by the trust funds. Each of the state's conservation trust funds has a unique purpose.

The Clean Water Management Trust Fund was created in 1996 to help local governments, state agencies and conservation nonprofits finance projects that address water pollution.  It covers land acquisition that protects watersheds and funds other solutions to pollution such as waste water treatment and storm water upgrades. To date, it has funded more than $950 million in projects across the state.

The Natural Heritage Trust Fund was created in 1987 and provides funding for the acquisition and protection of important natural and cultural areas. This includes land that is home to rare plant and animal species. To date. it has funded more than $300 million in projects across the state.

The Parks and Recreation Trust Fund was created in 1994 and funds improvements in the state's park system. It matches dollar-for-dollar grants to local governments and gives grants that help improve public beach and estuarine access. It is the main source of funding for park improvements and expansion of existing parks. To date, it has funded more than $446 million in projects across the state.

The Agriculture and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund was created in 2005. It grants money for agricultural conservation easements on lands used for production of food, fiber and other agricultural products, and supports public and private enterprise programs that promote profitable and sustainable agricultural, horticultural, and forestland activities. To date, it has funded $7.6 million in projects across the state. The fund grew out of the Farmland Preservation Trust Fund.

To read about the economic benefits of conservation, and to see trust fund success stories as well as a county-by-county listing of grants that have been awarded by the trust funds over the years, see Land for Tomorrow's 2011 Green Book. [2.4MB pdf]

Further Reading
Pburr listening with peeps

TNC has been active to achieve full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The fund was set up in 1965 as an off-set for off-shore and gas drilling fees to protect land and water. While the program is authorized by Congress to receive a small portion of the fees (up to $900 million per year), much of the money has historically been diverted elsewhere.  In this time of increasing pressure on natural areas and stress on natural resources, the full funding of this program is more important than ever.

Further Reading

Climate Change

Adapting to Climate Change

Climate change is already affecting our lives and the places we live, and has the potential to dramatically impact the lives of future generations. The Nature Conservancy is joining with policy makers, community members, businesses, scientists, industry leaders and others to slow the pace of climate change.

Our three main strategies are:

  • Reducing emissions from deforestation
  • Helping natural areas to adapt
  • Supporting policies to reduce emissions

Our work in NC centers around the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge on the Albemarle Peninsula. North Carolina is helping to lead the nation on sea level rise adaptation. Our strategies include:

  • Planting species near the coast with a higher tolerance to salt water
  • Restoring the hydrology of lands previously drained for agricultural purposes to maintain freshwater wetlands as a buffer to rising sea levels
  • Building oyster reefs to absorb wave activity
Further Reading
North Carolina Climate Change:
National Climate Change:
Oyster Reef Restoration

Restoring North Carolina's Oysters thumb

For the last decade, TNC, in partnership with the Division of Marine Fisheries, has been running an oyster shell recycling program with local restaurants on the Outer Banks. Started by our own Aaron McCall, the effort has lead to 1,300 linear feet of artificial reef off the coast of North Carolina. The effort is now part of our climate change adaptation work.

Further Reading and Video

Marine Protection

The Nature Conservancy is working with partners all over the world to find solutions to problems that face our oceans. Once considered a limitless and inexhaustible resource, oceans are in jeopardy. The demands of a growing population are damaging marine ecosystems and depleting ocean and coastal resources.

New and innovative approaches are needed now to maintain and restore the biological wealth of the world's oceans and coasts.

Nationally, our Global Marine Initiative works to help marine life, local communities and coastal economies. Here are some of the ways:

  • Building resiliance
  • Applying innovative market-based strategies
  • Protecting and restoring the oceans and coastal areas
  • Developing new tools to help manage threats
  • Setting science priorities
Further Reading

Energy and Biomass

As we move toward more types of renewable energy, we need to be careful to know the impacts they will have on land and wildlife. While wind, solar and biofuels help reduce carbon emissions, they can also be land-intensive.

Of special concern to North Carolina is to ensure that any wind or woody biomass developments are done in a responsible, sustainable way.

Further Reading

Prescribed Fire brochure thumb

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