A conservation agreement with landowners has preserved 13 acres in the Bethel community of Haywood County.
The property is largely agricultural land, providing corn, hay and a critical calving unit for a larger cow-calf operation. The land will remain in agricultural production.
The land includes more than 1,000 feet of Garden Creek, which helps provide water for downstream farmers, the towns of Canton and Clyde, Evergreen Paper, trout, one species of rare fish, two species of rare freshwater mussels and hellbender salamanders.
The property was protected through a conservation easement, a voluntary and permanent agreement that limits certain development in exchange for possible federal, state, and local tax benefits, a cash payment, or some combination.
In this case, the landowners, Charles and Janice Henson, received modest compensation for the conservation agreement. Partners funding the easement, as well as other out-of-pocket expenses such as a property survey, an appraisal of the easement’s value, legal fees, and other closing costs, include: the Haywood Soil and Water Conservation District, the N.C. Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, the Southwestern NC Resource Conservation and Development Council, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Bethel Rural Community Organization, and the Pigeon River Fund, which has provided several grants to help protect water quality in the Upper Pigeon River Valley by protecting rural lands.
This transaction marks the sixth conservation easement completed in the Upper Pigeon River watershed since 2007, a total of more than 230 acres.