Conservation advocates set five-year goals

Urge state to build on past successes

Environment North Carolina Research & Policy Center

A tight economy and cuts in state funding have slowed land and water protection efforts across North Carolina in recent years. But the state’s land trusts and conservancies have accomplished much since the founding of Land for Tomorrow in 2005 … and now they have ambitious – but achievable – goals for the coming years.

Those successes and plans were outlined in a new report released today. “Securing North Carolina’s Future: A Five-Year Plan for Investing in Our Land, Water and Quality of Life,” provides clear targets for land protection advocates and state policy-makers.

The report calls for protecting 399,000 acres of land and 1,750 miles of waterways across North Carolina. It also highlights conservation’s tremendous impact on North Carolina’s economy.

“The need for conservation remains critical and the opportunities for economical land and water protection have only grown,” said Elizabeth Ouzts, state director of Environment North Carolina and Land for Tomorrow Steering Committee member.

“Once we protect a place, it’s safeguarded forever. That’s why we are looking at the big picture and setting long-term goals that can be achieved if conservation groups and the state continue to work together.”

“When major employers bring their business and jobs to North Carolina, they often cite our clean water, quality of life and abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation,” said Reid Wilson, executive director of the Conservation Trust for North Carolina and Land for Tomorrow Steering Committee member.

Land for Tomorrow released a large-scale assessment of North Carolina’s conservation needs in 2005, “Saving the Goodliest Land.” Since then, the state has protected nearly 390,000 acres of forests, vistas, parks, farms and stream buffers even as funding for North Carolina’s four conservation trust funds has been reduced by 85 percent.