TNC trustees walking towards Capitol Hill.
TNC trustees visited Capitol Hill last fall to discuss conservation issues with more than 100 members of Congress. © Mike Olliver

Stories in North Carolina

Policy and Practice


 Endowing a Second Government Relations Position

The Nature Conservancy's early commitment to government relations resulted in important legislation that improved conservation across North Carolina. We helped lead the effort to create the state's conservation trust funds, which have provided more than a billion dollars for land and water protection. And yet, the arena of government relations and conservation is becoming increasingly complex.

"My background is in government relations,” says North Carolina's Executive Director Katherine Skinner. "But things are much more complex than they were when I worked on Capitol Hill. And they have evolved quite a bit over the years in the Conservancy.”

A young longleaf pine still green in the wake of a controlled burn.
Fire Policy We are working at the state level to ensure controlled burning and other forms of management can happen at scale. © Anne Liles

At both the federal and state level, good conservation is tied to federal and state laws as well as appropriations. In many cases, the government owns the land that we are trying to restore or manage; we need to work closely with the federal government on a shared vision that will benefit all North Carolinians.

"Our mission is bigger these days. While we need to continue to work to ensure that there is money to acquire lands for conservation, we also need to influence policy and practice on issues as far ranging as forest conservation, water protection, and fisheries," says Skinner. "To address those needs, we need to expand our government relations staff to address the evolving policies that affect good land management at the state and federal level." 

A good example is controlled burning. Government relations staff worked at the state level to tweak rules so that burns could occur on more days, benefiting not just the Conservancy, but land managers and forests across the state as well.

"There are many more of these kinds of policies that enable good conservation; it is incumbent on us to be staffed adequately in government relations to support effective conservation at the state and federal level," says Skinner.