Voluntary land protections have increased by 27 percent over the five-year period from 2005-2010.
The first census of land trusts during this period found 10 million new acres conserved nationwide since 2005, including 339,669 acres here in North Carolina.
The National Land Trust Census was released by the Land Trust Alliance. In the same period, the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, a major federal conservation program, added just more than 500,000 acres even while experiencing a 38 percent funding cut.
A total of 47 million acres — an area over twice the size of all the national parks in the contiguous United States — are now protected by land trusts.
An enhanced tax deduction for conservation easement donations has helped America’s land trusts work with farmers, ranchers and other modest-income landowners to sustain a remarkable pace of more than one million acres protected by conservation easements each year. Proponents are worried that Congress will allow this incentive to expire at the end of 2011, meaning fewer landowners will receive tax benefits from the generous donation of development rights on their land.
The census can be found online at www.lta.org/census.