Government Funding and Policies Matter

To increase the pace of land conservation, the Conservation Trust for North Carolina and 22 local land trusts educate state legislators and members of Congress about the need for:

  • increased funding for conservation programs;
  • expanded tax incentives for landowners who donate land or conservation easements;
  • and policies that boost private land conservation.

Adequate state and federal funding of the Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF), Parks & Recreation Trust Fund (PRTF), and Agricultural Development & Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, is essential to land trusts’ ability to conserve high-priority natural areas, farmland and open spaces in North Carolina. Acquiring land to expand state parks or protect drinking water supplies, or preserving family farms to sustain a strong agricultural economy, requires significant resources from state and federal lawmakers.

After three consecutive years of increases and in a year of budget surplus, the General Assembly appropriated fewer dollars for conservation. During the 2017 long session, the CWMTF and Parks & Recreation Trust Fund both received fewer dollars in 2017 than in 2016. While the budget does increase funding for the Agricultural Development & Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, the funding levels are inadequate to match US Department of Defense funds to protect our military bases from encroachment and to match US Department of Agriculture funds to protect and restore farmland in Western North Carolina and the Piedmont, where development pressures are the greatest.

  • The General Assembly appropriated $22.4 million to CWMTF in 2016-17 and is appropriating $18.3 million in 2017-18(a 18% decrease).
  • The General Assembly appropriated $22.7 million to PARTF in 2016-17 and $19.7 million in 2017-18 (a 13% decrease).

View the full 2017-2019 North Carolina Budget Summary.

In addition, many landowners are interested in incentives such as tax deductions and credits, which is why land trusts support expanded incentives for people who voluntarily conserve their land. In 2013, the NC General Assembly repealed the state income tax credit for donations of conservation lands, however NC land trusts continue to work with key decision makers to reinstate the tax credit. Following this year’s Lobby Day, Representatives Jordan, McGrady, and Setzer introduced H 950, a bill to reenact the North Carolina Conservation Tax Credit for projects protecting farmland, military buffers, or flood plain areas, and providing public access to public lands and waters. This legislation is still eligible for consideration in the 2018 Short Session of the NC General Assembly.

Read a summary of non-budgetary bills and their status at the conclusion of the 2017 legislative long session.

Legislators recognize that conservation is critical to maintaining North Carolina’s three largest industries, agriculture ($84 billion/year and 686,000 jobs), tourism ($20 billion per year and 197,000 jobs), and the military ($66 billion). In addition, the total economic impact from fishing, hunting, and outdoor recreation is $28 billion per year, and for our fantastic system of state parks, the figure is more than $400 million. Find out more about state conservation policy issues.

Click here for information about federal conservation policy issues.

Asheville watershed stream

More than 70 percent of North Carolinians broadly support conservation funding to conserve forests, working farms, parks and historic sites, as well as preventing polluted runoff from contaminating rivers, lakes, creeks and groundwater. You can play an essential role in helping us educate elected officials about the need for conservation funding, incentives, and policies.

We need you to tell your elected officials why you care about conservation. Make your voice heard – sign up to receive action alerts from CTNC!

Here’s another key fact: for every dollar invested by the state’s three conservation trust funds, North Carolinians have received a $4 return in natural goods and services such as drinking water protection, cleaner air, productive farmland and flood control, according to a 2011 report from the Trust for Public Land.