North Carolina’s Land Trusts

Local Land Trusts Save the Places You Love

Waynesville partnersNorth Carolina is filled with unspoiled beauty, from biologically rich mountains in the west, through the rolling farms and sandhills of the Piedmont, to the fragile wonders of barrier islands and inland shores.

Twenty-four land trusts across our state - CTNC and 23 organizations working in specific regions – are constantly at work to protect these lands. Together, we have protected more than 371,000 acres in almost 2,300 places.

What is a land trust?

Land trusts are non-profit organizations that protect natural areas of significant ecological, scenic, recreational, agricultural, cultural, or historic value. They work with interested landowners who love their land to protect farms, forests, wildlife habitat, lakes and streams, parks, and scenic vistas that are treasured by their communities.

How do they work?

Hiking in the PinesA land trust may acquire a property by buying it or through a donation from the owner. It may then hold the property or convey it to a government agency or another conservation group that will protect the land – as a watershed or park, for example. Or the land trust may resell the tract as a conservation property, with an agreement that limits what future owners can do with it.

The land trust may acquire just the development rights to the land, by purchase or donation. That means the landowner can continue to live on, and even farm, the property under a lasting agreement that limits changes that can be made to the land. These agreements, called easements, are completely voluntary, negotiated by the landowner and the land trust.

The land trust or another agency will act as a steward of property under a conservation easement, monitoring it to make sure its conservation values are protected according to the agreement forever.

Many land trusts own and manage nature preserves or other properties open to the public, for recreational and educational purposes. Check out your local land trust’s website to find out about fun and adventurous outdoor activities in your neck of the woods.