Direct Financial Support
CTNC has distributed over $14 million to local land trusts so that they can preserve more lands important to the communities they serve. CTNC applies for grant funding from government agencies and foundations, and manages the grants that are awarded, passing through the vast majority of the funds to individual land trusts. We facilitate communications and information flow between the land trusts and the funding entity. It’s an effective and efficient way to advance the shared conservation goals of land trusts, foundations, and state, federal, and local governments.
We’ve received over twenty of these collaborative grants to protect land along streams to maintain water quality, expand farmland preservation, reach out to diverse communities, save scenic vistas, and bring families out onto protected lands to reconnect children with nature. One great example is:
Money in the Ground Initiative
The State Legislature eliminated the Conservation Tax Credit, effective Jan. 1, 2014, spurring an innovative campaign to make the most of the measure’s final months
CTNC’s “Money in the Ground” initiative was a plan to help as many land owners as possible take advantage of the tax credit before it vanished. The Conservation Trust staff recommended that $1 million be reallocated from our $4.6 million revolving loan fund established by Fred and Alice Stanback – money that otherwise would be loaned to land trusts to help buy land. Because that money is earmarked for mountain properties (with an inclusion later granted for the outer coastal plain), the staff also suggested dedicating $200,000 from CTNC operating reserves to help protect properties in the Piedmont. An anonymous donor subsequently stepped forward and contributed another $200,000, with the potential of another $100,000 if the demand warranted. In all, we dedicated $1.5 million to help expedite transactions by year’s end.
The response was swift and impressive. The local land trusts immediately began revisiting land owners they had talked to in the last few years, advising them that if they didn’t act by the end of the year, they’d miss out on the credit. The grant applications started rolling in.
CTNC approved 63 grants totaling over $1 million. These grants helped 16 land trusts protect almost 8,000 acres with a donated land value of more than $26 million.
The Money in the Ground grants are the latest example of CTNC’s efforts to assist local land trusts so that they can conserve more land in their communities. We provide other grants and land protection loans, advocate for conservation funding and policies at the legislature and in Congress, and promote land trusts’ successes far and wide.
CTNC’s Loan Programs: When Conservation Can’t Wait
While some conservation deals may be months or even years in the making, others require land trusts to act fast. If a land trust does not have sufficient funds on hand when an important, time-sensitive conservation opportunity arises, the organization will have to turn to borrowing. CTNC provides low-interest bridge loans to local land trusts so they can quickly protect threatened properties. To date, CTNC has made 32 loans totaling $12 million to nine land trusts, helping to protect almost 8,000 acres with a fair market value of $41 million. Our loan funds currently total roughly $4 million.
In 2014, CTNC provided a bridge loan to the LandTrust for Central North Carolina to protect 250 acres at Little Long Mountain in Montgomery County. The parcel is one of the last two major gaps in the historic 40-mile Uwharrie National Recreation Trail that the LandTrust and US Forest Service have been working to reconnect and complete. Little Long Mountain hosts an unusual glade ecosystem on its summit which affords 360 degree long-distance views to hikers on the trail. The project also protects natural areas that drain into Poison Fork, an Outstanding Resource Water that is home to species of mussels found nowhere else in North Carolina’s Piedmont region.
CTNC’s Farmland Forever Fund
The eleven projects will conserve 2071 acres of working lands, and will leverage almost $6 million in landowner donations and matching funds (for every dollar invested through the FFF, $55 of working land value will be preserved).In August 2012, CTNC made grants totaling almost $110,000 to eight local land trusts, to conserve eleven working family farms. It’s the first round of grants from our “Farmland Forever Fund.” The CTNC Board created the fund with partial proceeds from a recent bequest and a generous individual donation. Land trusts will use the funds to pay the costs of completing the farmland preservation transactions. Often, finding funding to cover these transaction costs (survey, appraisal, legal fees, etc.) is a major barrier to completing farm preservation projects.