North Carolina’s environmental protection and land conservation organizations—motivated by the state’s 20-year-old grants program that provides funding for combined land and water conservation projects—have worked together more closely than in many other states, and may serve as an example of how to build partnerships across the South. Until recently,when the North Carolina state legislature and governor drastically reduced funding and combined several of the Clean Water and other environmental trust fund programs, state funding for environmental trust funds in some years exceeded the $100 million annual goal. With the added benefit of privately contributed funds, federal government matching grants, and landowners’ frequent willingness to sell land or easements for conservation at substantially less than appraised value, the leveraging effect of these public funds produced magnificent accomplishments. . . .
With limited financial and human resources, and seemingly overwhelming forces threatening our environmental assets, it is necessary for those of us concerned with saving and defending the best, most critical, most fragile, most endangered of our natural resources to work more closely in partnerships, collaboration, and coalition to increase our odds of success.
We need to establish statewide and regional alliances for land and water resource conservation and stewardship that embrace broad arrays of engagement and promote exchange of information and coordination of efforts, including hosting occasional discussion forums. Such consortia of interests and higher level of coordination and communication will help us to accomplish greater scales of success and greater public awareness—and lead to the protection of more of our environmental heritage for the common good of all.
--Chuck Roe, president Southern Conservation Partners