Conserving our natural resources is essential to maintaining this region’s character and quality of life. Protecting water quality, family farms, scenic rivers, and undisturbed natural areas is the mission of Three Rivers Land Trust (TRLT), a non-profit conservation organization. TRLT focuses their efforts in a 15-county region in North Carolina’s central Piedmont and Sandhills. Reflecting on 2021, Three Rivers Land Trust had a banner year, conserving over 4,200 acres and increasing their total conserved acreage to 45,300 acres. Last year, TRLT completed 18 different projects in 9 counties, ranging from family farms, to hardwood forests, to wetlands and stream corridors.

In fact, 830 acres of farmland was conserved by Three Rivers Land Trust in 2021. With a determined focus on conserving more farmland, Three Rivers worked diligently to protect the farms that feed our local communities. “With North Carolina losing or impairing almost 6 acres of farmland every hour due to development, TRLT is working against to clock to save North Carolina’s family farms,” states Travis Morehead, TRLT Executive Director. Many of these farmland conservation opportunities were made possible with funding from organizations like the North Carolina Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund (ADFPTF) and the USDA Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).

In addition to protecting farms, Three Rivers worked to provide public access to connect residents and visitors to the outdoors. The Yadkin River Game Lands Project is a great example where TRLT and other conservation partners, like the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC), worked together to permanently conserve 2,424 acres and 31 miles of shoreline on the eastern shore of the Tuckertown Reservoir. In 2021, TRLT also acquired land that will become part of two local parks, one state park, and the Uwharrie National Forest. The most notable acquisition was a 215 acre tract that will be added to Morrow Mountain State Park. “We appreciate TRLT’s long standing commitment to expanding recreational access for all North Carolinians,” states Jeff Michael, Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources for the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Public access is only one facet of conservation that Three Rivers focuses on. The core of TRLT’s mission is to work with private landowners to and conserve land. Conservation minded property-owners often conserve the land they grew up on. “The reasons someone permanently conserves their property varies, but most of them do it because of their deep connection to the land,” states Crystal Cockman, TRLT Associate Director.Looking back on 2021, Three Rivers Land Trust, with the generous support of its members and conservation partners, accomplished a great deal. Travis Morehead, TRLT Executive Director stated that, “This year is one for the record books, but we [Three Rivers] are going to do our best to try and top it in 2022. Thanks to all of our conservation partners like the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC), the North Carolina Land and Water Fund (NCLWF) and the North Carolina Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, (ADFPTF), for helping to make 2021 so successful.”

To learn more about how to conserve your own lands or how you can support Three Rivers Land Trust in their conservation mission, please contact Emily Callicutt, Land Protection Specialist at Three Rivers Land Trust by calling 704-647-0302 or by email at