NC Receives $8.5 Million USDA Award For Conservation Easements In Cape Fear River Basin

A proposal by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services was awarded $8.5 million by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service to place conservation easements on farms in the Piedmont and Sandhills of North Carolina. This project was funded through USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

“We look forward to working with USDA and other partners to preserve family farms in the Piedmont and Sandhills permanently, using conservation easements to address soil and water quality as primary resource concerns, along with field sediment loss, water erosion, and the long-term protection of land,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.

RCPP is a partner-driven approach to conservation that funds solutions to natural resource challenges on agricultural land. By leveraging collective resources and collaborating on common goals, RCPP demonstrates the power of public-private partnerships in delivering results for agriculture and conservation.

“I’m excited to announce the first RCPP awards under the 2018 Farm Bill,” said NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr. “Through collaboration and aligning our resources toward a common goal, we’re making an impact for natural resource conservation that could never have been realized on our own.”

Conservation easements set restrictions on uses of the land to help preserve it and prevent overdevelopment. The Preserving Upriver Farms to Reduce Flooding in N.C. proposal is a phased project that aims to reduce the negative impacts of soil erosion and runoff in the river basins in the Piedmont and Sandhills. In the past several years, hurricanes, tropical storms, and significant rain events in the state have caused catastrophic flooding events in Eastern North Carolina. There are several factors linked to these flooding events, including increased runoff from residential and commercial development.

Priority for funding will be given to working areas that face the greatest threat to development and the best opportunity for runoff mitigation. This project will focus on eligible parcels within the Cape Fear River Basin from the headwaters of the Deep River in Guilford County and the Haw River in Forsyth County to Interstate 95 in Johnston, Harnett and Cumberland counties. The conservation easements will maintain pervious surfaces and filtration areas in high-risk runoff areas.

Interested landowners must partner with a county government or conservation nonprofit to apply for funds. Applications for conservation easements will be accepted through the N.C. Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund in October. Call 919-707-3071 or email with questions.