Conservation Options

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Hello, this is Andrew Baucom, field crops agent and county extension director here at the Union County Ag Center, here today with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension report. Today I would like to talk with you about voluntary conservation options for land protection in North Carolina. All landowners have a unique relationship with their land. Some choose to protect their land from future development. The challenge is to find the option that best fits with each landowner’s primary objective of owning land. Determining the best fit requires due diligence, expert advice, and a thorough analysis of the benefits and costs associated with each conservation choice.

Conservation options are voluntary, and landowners who practice due diligence are most apt to be satisfied. Once individual and family needs are identified, circumstance will determine the appropriate conservation strategy. The landowner, in concert with family members, must establish a cooperative partnership with a conservation entity. The conservation partner (private or public) must live on in time to ensure that conservation goals can be protected beyond the lifetime of current owners.

There are temporary options, term-limited protection options, and permanent options to help landowners determine which techniques are appropriate for their particular situation. This approach may mirror the gradual transition that many landowners have taken to ensure current and future management or protection of their lands.

To begin, take the time to discuss, develop, and document the following items:
• Land management and conservation goals
• Family’s needs and desires
• Unique features of your land
• Financial and tax situation
• Uncertainties that need further clarification or study

Selecting a conservation strategy will depend not only on your vision for the land but on its notable features. Many programs exist to protect specific public benefits like water quality and rare habitat. Priority is placed on unique resources or habitat, threatened and endangered species, proximity to other protected land, and other conservation benefits derived from the protection of a given parcel. Landowners wishing to protect working lands such as farms, woodlands, or homesteads may have greater competition, longer waiting time, or fewer compensation options available than those landowners with unique habitat or water resources. Options are available for landowners wishing to protect working lands like farms or managed forests, as well as those targeting protection of unique habitat or water resources.