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5 Reasons to Love a Land Trust

 
Land in a conservation trust

 

We know you have questions about land trusts: What are they? How do they work? Where are they located? Who can help with their work? What’s in it for me? All good questions, especially that last one because there’s something in their work for all of us! 

This year marks the 17th celebration of Land Trust Day at Mast Store. We believe their work is so important that we donate 20% of our sales that day in each location to our local land trust partner. Land trusts are non-profit organizations that work with landowners and other associations to help save our land heritage, create open spaces, protect wetlands and wildlife habitats, and provide recreational opportunities for everyone. There are so many reasons to support land trusts, but today, we are going to focus on five of them. 

Reason #1: Beautiful views – If you’ve ever taken a drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway, visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or driven past farmland near Downtown Winston-Salem, you are immersing yourself in the work of land trusts. The right of way along the Parkway is actually quite narrow, and everyone wants to enjoy the serene beauty that this narrow ribbon offers. But wanting to live near it has led to encroachment on and diminishment of the views that take your breath away. That’s where land trusts can step in to purchase “at-risk” land that abuts the Parkway to secure the beautiful view forever.   

We know that people are more likely to care for things that they see, so protecting a rural landscape or majestic mountain view is a way to set aside land for the public to enjoy. 

Red barn in Valle Crucis, NC on a conservation easementReason #2: Keeping the family in the family farm – If you ask any small farmer, he or she will tell you that farming is more a labor of love than a vocation. It’s hard but rewarding work. But, in these days of growing housing development and increasing land values, it is difficult for family farms to survive. By placing farmland in a trust, it ensures that the land will continue to be worked and loved by reducing the tax burden of the owners.  

For the family, it gives them peace of mind and for each of us, we can enjoy a pastoral experience and fresh food that is rooted in our communities. 

Reason #3: Recreational access– While we don’t want to dwell on the “event” of last year, we can all agree that getting out on the trail, doing a little birdwatching, or enjoying the simple pleasure of a sunset provided solace during our quarantined time. It was like we all discovered the outdoors again. If you visited a local park, a state or national park, or took a walk on a greenway, you were probably appreciating an area that was established by a land trust.  

 
State and national parks add acreage to their established footprints with the help of land trusts securing easements or making purchases of adjacent lands. Cities and towns route their greenways along what would otherwise be unusable land, like that on the banks of rivers, through easements and gifts of landowners, who receive tax credits for their donation. 

Reason #4: Clean water and wildlife habitat – One thing is for sure; man doesn’t live by bread alone. A nice glass of cool, clean water is always welcomed.  While many of us get our water through a municipal system that treats it before it comes out of the faucet, it’s always better to start with something that’s pretty clean to begin with. Protecting and re-establishing wetlands is one way that a land trust contributes to clean water.  
 
Wetlands provide habitat for fish, wildlife, plants, and also help with flood control, replenishing groundwater, and present stopovers for migratory birds. 
 
Preservation and re-establishment of wildlife habitats is also an important function of a land trust. The biodiversity of our planet is amazing with new species of plants and animals being discovered on a regular basis. It is important to maintain the balance of nature for our planet’s sake. Sometimes we don’t realize the consequences of introducing a non-native species or allowing one to expire until it’s too late. Think about kudzu here. Our land trust partners provide voices for the voiceless animals and plants. 

Reason #5: Quality of life and economic development – Let’s face it, nobody wants to live in a place that is ugly. And, it’s virtually impossible to live in a place where gainful employment is not available. As humans, beauty is an important element of life. We unconsciously seek it out both in natural landscapes and manmade landscapes. Our land trust partners help set aside land and places that are important environmentally, historically, and culturally. Some of these places are so stunning that you gasp at first sight, and others may have a calming effect on your mind and soul. Simply put, beautiful places add to the bottom lines of businesses and to the mental health and stability of people. We all benefit from land conservation. 

Many of our land trust partners will have a presence at the stores on Saturday, June 5. With their efforts, many natural, cultural, and historical landscapes are protected, including the land around the Original Mast General Store in Valle Crucis, North Carolina. We hope you’ll stop by to learn more about what they do locally and in the communities where you live. Our partners are Blue Ridge Conservancy, New River Conservancy, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Conserving Carolina, Upstate Forever, Foothills Land Conservancy, Congaree Land Trust, Piedmont Land Conservancy, and Blue Ridge Land Conservancy.

Several land trusts lead outreach hikes to introduce you to some of the lands that are in their land bank. We encourage you to take them up on the offer. It’s worth the time to get out and experience them for yourself. 

 

 


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