Last year, Buncombe County voters approved the Open Space Bond, which seeks to conserve 20% of the county’s land by 2030. Currently, 18.5% of land is protected. But at its May 2 meeting, Buncombe County Commissioners approved an official process for conserving more land through conservation easements.
What are conservation easements?
We’re so glad you asked. Simply put, conservation easements are legal agreements that limit uses of land in order to protect it. These agreements are permanent, making it a valuable tool in conserving land for generations to come.
What is the purpose of conservation easements?
- Improving water quality
- Maintaining wildlife habitats and migration paths
- Prohibiting future development
Buncombe County’s efforts
Proposed areas in Buncombe will be graded using a point system on these factors:
- The size of the land
- Proximity to existing preserved land
- Limited obstruction of scenic views
- Farmland preservation
- Public benefit
This set of criteria was created by Buncombe County staff along with the Agriculture Advisory Board, Land Conservation Advisory Board, and input from the public. This newly approved system will determine how funds from the $30 million Open Space Bond are spent.
With the evaluation process approved, the Agriculture Advisory Board and Land Conservation Advisory Board will now begin grading proposed conservation easement areas. Areas that meet the criteria will then be evaluated for funding. Here are four conservation easements that have been recently approved for funding:
- Tone Hollar Farm - 23 acres in Weaverville
- Soden Farm - 47 acres in Fairview
- Ramsey Farm - 40 acres in Weaverville
- Lake Eden Preserve - 336 acres in Black Mountain
Feeling passionate about protecting our environment? Learn more about Asheville’s land conservancies.