Sunset over Hall Mountain, Macon County, NC. Photograph by Ralph Preston, courtesy of Mainspring Conservation Trust.
Some of Appalachia’s most special places are protected through land trusts. These non-profit organizations work with private landowners and other organizations to protect places of significant agricultural, environmental, historic, and recreational value. Land trusts use a variety of mechanisms to protect land. Conservation easements allow the owners to retain ownership and protect the land’s important natural assets by limiting development. In other cases, a land trust will purchase property and then sell or donate it to a park, forest or other entity that will protect the land for future generations. Property owners can also work with land trusts to develop conservation plans for land and waterways. The eight regional land trusts in western North Carolina have protected thousands of acres of our region’s beautiful mountains and rivers.