Workin' for Livin'
- May 09, 2022 |
If you’re a child of the ‘80s, you might remember “Workin’ for a Livin’,” a song by Huey Lewis and the News that paid tribute to the work-a-day folks that keep our lives moving forward. The same sentiment can be applied to the work of land trusts – they are workin’ for OUR livin’.
The work of land trusts can be a little difficult to wrap your head around at first. 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.
As a for instance, a local group may want to provide a greenway along a riverbank that would link two parks together. There are a couple of ways they can accomplish their walkway. First, they can outright purchase the land and put restrictions on its use now and in the future. In the second way, they negotiate an easement with the current owner of the land, which will give the greenway group permission to use the land within parameters, and the property owner retains possession of the land. He may or may not receive a tax credit for his easement, but we all will benefit from the owner’s generosity.
Land trusts, also known as conservancies, help farmers keep the family farm in the family. According to yahoo!finance, the United States lost 1.3 million acres of farmland to development in 2021. There are many reasons for that – growing cities and towns, urban sprawl, and tax rates for large tracts of land. A conservation easement on a family’s farmland can help save on tax expenses and doesn’t impede the family from utilizing some of their land to build a family home, etc. Small family farms contribute to local and regional economies.
Sometimes the scenic view and open space are more valuable than new development. Preserving wetlands provides habitat for wildlife and secures clean water. State and national parks often grow their boundaries by working with conservancy groups. During the pandemic, we all learned how important these open areas are for us to find refuge to recharge our batteries and to gain perspective.
Wide-open spaces not only contribute to the beauty of the area, they also are key factors in economic development. We humans actively seek out beauty in natural and manmade landscapes, so it is important that the two work together to encourage growth in harmony. Land trusts help set aside lands that are important culturally, environmentally, and historically. These areas tell the story of our communities and help them – and the businesses and individuals who call them home - to thrive.
You can learn more about how land trusts and conservancies are workin’ for our livin’ on June 4 in all Mast Store locations. We will be hosting our land trust partners, including:
Blue Ridge Conservancy – Valle Crucis
New River Conservancy – Boone
Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy – Waynesville and Asheville
Conserving Carolina – Hendersonville
Upstate Forever – Greenville
Foothills Land Conservancy – Knoxville
Congaree Land Trust – Columbia
Piedmont Land Conservancy – Winston-Salem
Blue Ridge Land Conservancy – Roanoke
At the end of this friend-raising event, Mast Store will donate 20% of the day’s sales to our partners to continue their important work.
** Wetlands photo courtesy of Blue Ridge Conservancy.