Local land trusts secure unprecedented $8 million for farmland preservation in Western North Carolina

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The Church Property in Valle Crucis is protected by Blue Ridge Conservancy through an agricultural conservation easement.  RCPP will provide funding in WNC to protect more farms like this one, protecting the cultural heritage of the mountains and clean drinking water for the South East

Blue Ridge Forever is a coalition of the 10 land trusts in Western North Carolina, that have partnered for over a decade of conservation successes in the region. At the beginning of the new year, they are celebrating an historic win, after the National Resource Conservation Service announced awards through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, or RCPP. Blue Ridge Forever’s project, “Forever Farms; Easements at the Eminence” received $8 million dollars.

“We are just thrilled to bring this allocation to Western North Carolina, beside ourselves at the funding to keep mountain farms farming, and so gratified the region is receiving national recognition for it’s importance as a freshwater source for the South East” says Jessica Laggis, Blue Ridge Forever Director.

“This funding represents the culmination of years of dedication in conservation planning and relationship building. The WNC land trusts have been laying the foundation for this RCPP success for a long time.”

Blue Ridge Forever plans to use the funding to protect mountain farms from a change in land use through voluntary agricultural conservation easements. Through these easements, farmers extinguish the development rights of their property, ensuring the land remains farmland, and receive funding that can aid them with their farm enterprises.

Locally, the cultural heritage of the mountains is protected with scenic farm vistas and local food, both of which also help drive tourism to the region. But the benefits are much farther reaching than the mountains. The Southern Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina contain the headwater sources of drinking water for millions of people throughout the South Eastern United States, in nine river basins emanating on either side of the Eastern Continental Divide. By ensuring that clean water flows off of farms at the headwaters, drinking water down stream remains cleaner.

“NRCS has created a unique opportunity with RCPP that recognizes the power of partnership. And farmland preservation is such a great cause everyone can get behind; it brings a diverse array of stakeholders together in a beautiful way. Blue Ridge Forever is so thankful to NRCS and to all of our supporters across party lines that helped make this project a reality. We especially want to thank Principal Chief Patrick Lambert of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Congressman Patrick McHenry, Senator Richard Burr, Governor Pat McCrory, Representative John Ager, and Representative Joe Sam Queen for supporting farmland preservation in Western North Carolina.” Laggis said.

Visit blueridgeforever.info to learn more about Blue Ridge Forever and your local land trusts.

 

 

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  • Asheville group receives money to preserve farmland | WJHL :

    […] Blue Ridge Forever director Jess Laggis says the $8 million is a record for land protection in the western part of the state. Laggis says it’s taken years to build relationships with groups in the area to make the proposal for the funds. […]

    1 year ago

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