Southern Conservation Partners is honored to partner with Earthseed Land Collective in Durham, North Carolina and to have served as their 501(c )(3) fiscal sponsor since 2019. Zulayka Santiago in 2023 authored and published a wonderful collection of her essays, meditations, poems, photos, and perspectives on life and nature that focuses on her experiences and observations gained while in residence on Earthseed’s 48-acres of woodlands, meadows, and gardens in north Durham. Zulayka is one of seven founding members of the collective and co-steward of its property purchased in 2016. Triangle Land Conservancy holds a permanent conservation easement over nearly 30-acres of the land, primarily consisting of the forested portion and its streams.
In our view, Zulayka’s writing is masterful, inspirational, and lovely. We highly recommend her book, Outside I Breathe Freely, for your reading and reflection.* Following are excerpts that may give you a taste of her sumptuous compositions.
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As a member of the Board of a Louisiana land trust and someone who has been interested in the use of permanent conservation easements for a number of years, I offer an idea for expanding the use of conservation easements on lands whose owners are “land rich, but cash poor”—that is, the large majority of American landowners. My goal is to further the utilization of permanent conservation easements (CE) by all Americans.
We know the current Federal Tax Code gives the majority of benefits/incentives (although there are some states with their own CE incentives) to those who conserve properties in perpetuity. With a little adjustment, current federal tax law could encourage Americans to preserve more rural lands through use of CEs. Such adjustments could prompt a positive boost to economic activity around our great country without causing the federal government to lose much, if any, tax revenue.
The idea is to adjust the Tax Code (26 US Code 170 [h]) to allow the tax deduction incentives/benefits to be portable by creating a secondary market for the sale of CE tax deductions. This would encourage small landowners as well as the “land rich and cash poor” to participate in the conservation of lands that in most cases are taken permanently out of rural use because the only option available is to sell the land for development. . . . (more)
When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.... Conservation, viewed in its entirety, is the slow and laborious unfolding of a new relationship between people and land."
There is in fact no distinction between the fate of the land and the fate of the people. When one is abused, the other suffers.
From the President
SCP President Chuck Roe looked at land conservation along the route of John Muir's "Southern Trek."
This blog offers views of our Board and partners. We invite your viewpoint on the following questions: