In November 2022, Buncombe County residents showed their support for the protection of open space and their interest in connecting to their natural environment by voting in favor of the $30 million open space bond.
The open space bond focuses on funding conservation easements, passive recreation, and greenways. Buncombe County’s Recreation Services and Agriculture and Land Resources departments will work together to provide staff support along with the Open Space Bond Manager. Three established advisory boards to the County Commissioners, Agriculture Advisory (AAB), Land Conservation Advisory (LCAB) and Recreation Services Advisory along with a newly created joint Land Conservation/Recreation Services subcommittee will help to guide the work and make funding recommendations to the Commissioners.
The AAB oversees the Farmland Preservation Program which is part of the Buncombe County Soil and Water Conservation District (BCSWCD). Staff of this program work with landowners to place conservation easements on their property that will effectually keep the land available for agriculture and forestry use into perpetuity. Whereas the AAB oversees the BCSWCD program, the LCAB reviews conservation projects brought forth by local land trusts. LCAB’s focus is on conservation easements that provide for protection of water quality, scenic vistas, wildlife habitat, public access, and farmland. Each board has an evaluation process to ensure that the best projects are being selected for maximum public benefit. Funding from this bond provides the opportunity to supercharge these efforts and assist with reaching the Commissioners’ goal of 20% of Buncombe County being protected by 2030.
Are you a landowner interested in applying for a conservation easement? If so, reach out to Buncombe County Soil and Water Conservation District or your local land trusts such as Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Riverlink, and Conserving Carolina. All bond funds for conservation will be allocated based on an application process managed by staff at the BCSWCD or local land trusts. Staff will bring completed applications to the advisory boards for review and funding recommendations to the County Commissioners.