by Crystal Cockman

December 6, 2017

I’m writing this article on Giving Tuesday. Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. There are many worthy places you can focus your giving towards, but one of the best ways to get involved is in your own community.

The LandTrust for Central North Carolina prides itself on doing LOCAL conservation. Our projects span a 10-county region in the Piedmont, but we have taken time to focus our efforts and do projects in each and every county we serve. This year in particular we have done a number of projects in Montgomery County. We’ve purchased 104 acres of longleaf pine forest, the most diverse ecosystem outside of the tropics. We’ve protected 182 acres housing three tributaries to Barnes Creek, an outstanding resource water, the highest water quality designation North Carolina provides. In fact, over the course of the past 20 years, we’ve protected more than 140 miles of stream and river frontage.

We’ve protected the iconic 50-acre Buzzard Mountain, the forested peak you see driving into Montgomery County across Swift Island Bridge from Stanly County. Without our purchase of this mountain, the scenic forested views you now enjoy could have one day been clear-cut or houses. We’ve taken ownership of a 20-acre tract that boasts a half a mile of riverfrontage on the Uwharrie River, and a 10-acre tract of land that buffers the Uwharrie River, which is nationally significant aquatic habitat. Our ten-county region, and Montgomery County in particular, has a lot of incredible natural resources, and conserving them will continually be a focus of The LandTrust.

Since our organization’s inception, we have transferred over 2,000 acres to public agencies, which have opened up significant land holdings for public use and enjoyment. A new trailhead on High Pine Church Road in Randolph County opened up 290-acres of prime hardwood habitat for turkey and deer hunting and provides the only eastern access to the Birkhead Wilderness Area. We have helped open up four new canoe and kayak access points. Many people don’t know that the Wildlife Commission built the access at Low Water Bridge, but The LandTrust owns the land there and joined in an agreement with them to allow the access to be built, and we maintain it, too. Just this year, a new canoe and fishing access opened near the mouth of the Uwharrie River on what used to be The LandTrust’s Capel Property, 306 acres we transferred to the Wildlife Resources Commission a few years ago.

In our 20-year history, we have protected over 13,000 acres of farmland. Agriculture is a key economic driver in North Carolina. In order for agriculture to thrive, it is important to protect the best soils from development pressures for the health and viability of the economy and future generations. We are currently working on a project in Randolph County and another in Cabarrus County that will protect farms that have 90-100% prime and statewide important farmland soils.

The LandTrust has done many other notable projects in our service area. In Richmond County, we’ve helped protect a portion of the Webb Farm, a first-class quail hunting preserve. In Stanly County, we’ve added land to Morrow Mountain State Park. In Anson County, we’ve helped a landowner conserve nearly 1,200 acres of farmland at the confluence of the Rocky and Pee Dee Rivers. Just this year, in Davidson County, we protected 163 acres of farmland and hardwood forest, including two rare plants and unique natural communities. In Davie County, we’ve conserved the 1800-acre Cooleemee Plantation, which was our first conservation easement. In Rowan County we’ve preserved lands at the confluence of the Yadkin and South Yadkin Rivers, as well as transferred land to the county that became Dunns Mountain Park and Eagle Point Park. And in Iredell County, we’ve preserved HaHo Dairy and Daltonia Plantation. We pride ourselves on conservation that spans our region with a focus on local projects in each county we serve.

This holiday season, consider supporting local organizations with a focus in your own community. Whether it’s some of your time, a donation, gift or the power of your voice in your local community. It’s a simple idea. Whether you come together with your family, your community, your company or your organization, find a way to give back.