Private Farms & Forest Lands

North Carolina’s diverse agriculture industry is the backbone of the state’s economy, adding $32.1 billion and employing 120,000 people in 2009. By focusing on the protection of productive private farms and forest lands, Foothills Conservancy hopes to help ensure the stability of the industry. Unfortunately, over the past several years, North Carolina has led the nation in acres of farmland lost to development. This problem stems from development pressures and population growth, as well as from a declining emphasis on farming as a profession and lack of adequate economic incentives for farmers.

Foothills Conservancy and land trusts throughout North Carolina consider the preservation of private farms and forest lands a top priority. In collaboration with regional partners, we work to identify the most viable opportunities for protecting these lands through the use of conservation easements. By voluntarily protecting their land with easements, private landowners continue to own and work their land and may be eligible to claim special federal and state conservation tax benefits. State and federal programs also provide limited funds to purchase development rights on working farms and forests that will be conserved and managed sustainably.

Throughout Foothills Conservancy’s service region, extensive opportunities exist for the preservation of agricultural lands. Currently, Foothills Conservancy holds conservation easements on more than 2,500 acres with 13 landowners. Most of these are agricultural easements on working farms and forest lands, including the historic 867-acre Bovender Farm in Rutherford County. Traditional farming communities such as Happy Valley in Caldwell County and the expansive farmlands of northern Cleveland County are natural focus areas for our farmland preservation efforts. Through our stewardship program, our land trust assumes a perpetual responsibility for upholding the terms of each conservation easement we hold.

Current Private Conservation Easements Held:

  • 867-acre Bovender Agricultural Easement
  • 72-acre Stensland Tract
  • 235-acre Caldwell County Heartleaf Tract
  • 115-acre Melton Farm Agricultural Easement
  • 136-acre White Trust Conservation Easement
  • 135-acre Jones Farm
  • 182-acre Martine Farm
  • 76-acre Whitlock Farm
  • 100-acre Paddy Creek Farm
  • 76-acre Loftis Easement
  • 477-acres Creston (2 easements) Left Prong Catawba River
  • 135-acres Edgemont Ltd. – Wilson Creek

TOTAL Private Acres Conserved through Easements: 2,606


Donahue Creek (Caldwell County) – 180 acres

Jackson Knob Cove (McDowell County) – 102 acres