Press release from Buncombe County:
With vibrant photographs and engaging data, Buncombe County’s new ESRI StoryMap is now available to help the public learn more about land conservation. With the Commissioners setting the goal of preserving 20% of County land by 2030, these maps are a timely way to provide an immersive journey into the past, present, and future of land conservation. “It’s also a tool that helps explain the County’s Ag and Land Resources conservation easement process that is overseen by the County Land Conservation Advisory Board and the Ag Advisory Board,” explains Farmland Preservation Program Manager Ariel Zijp. “The story map provides background information about the two Boards and shows their conservation focus areas in Buncombe County.
Beyond the sharp aesthetic of the website, there is a vast repository of conservation-related data, processes, and overall information. “Three of the four maps are interactive and allow residents to zoom in and out of the map,” says Farmland Preservation Program Coordinator Avni Naik. “Please remember that the focus areas help us guide conservation in the County but are not the sole determinant of project approval. If a property does not fall in a focus area we will still evaluate its conservation values through field work and landowner meetings. Similarly, a property that falls in a focus area does not mean automatic project approval. It would help the project rank higher, but other due diligence will still be carried out to ensure the best available projects are funded.
Ultimately, the County believes these maps increase transparency and awareness about the importance of land conservation and the process of creating easements. “I hope this tool helps people understand that there is a conscious, research-based approach to the County’s conservation easement process and our conservation focus areas,” explains Zijp.
Buncombe County would like to thank the following partners for their help with the creation of these StoryMaps:
- Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy
- Conserving Carolina
- Buncombe County GIS Database
- NC Department of Environmental Quality
- Linking Lands and Communities Report – Land of Sky Regional Council
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