Open Space Bond project funding application now open

Press release from Buncombe County:

Are you an environmental advocate, community group, municipality, or organization looking to preserve the natural beauty of Buncombe County, increase the quality of life for its residents, and improve access to passive recreational activities in the area? Buncombe County’s Open Space Bond will open its first project funding application window for Passive Recreation Lands projects on January 16, 2024. The County will link to the project application on the Open Space Public Input Page with the opening of the application window. The application window will remain open until March 29, 2024.

The Passive Recreation Lands component of the Bond will fund projects that provide publicly accessible land, outdoor space, waterbodies, and corridors where passive recreational activities – such as hiking, birding, bicycling, and wildlife viewing – place minimal stress on a site’s resources in a designated area. These lands provide ecosystem services and are highly compatible with natural resource protection.

The application consists of a questionnaire including the following items:

Project Overview
Funding Request & Match
Project Summary
Acquisition/Improvements Narrative & Supporting Documentation
Alignment with Evaluation Criteria
Applicant Experience
Additional Documentation

Passive Recreation Lands projects must meet the following qualifying criteria to be eligible for Bond funds:

Project funds must be allocated within the 7-year timeline of the Bond.
The Project must be geographically located within Buncombe County.
The Project must include a plan for long-term management and maintenance.

If a proposed project meets this set of qualifying criteria, it is moved to a weighted criteria process where a range of factors are considered.

The weighted criteria include:
· Conservation and Environmental Impact (20%)
· Feasibility (20%)
· Accessibility (15%)
· Equity (15%)
· Long-Term Management and Maintenance (10%)
· Costs and Leveraged Funding (10%)
· Alignment with County Plan/Needs/Opportunity/Priority (5%)
· Safety (5%)

Applicants will be able to get support from Open Space Bond Project Manager Jill Carter through both an applicant webinar on February 21, and in 1:1 consultations. Sign up for additional information and updates here. Learn more about the evaluation criteria here.

In 2022, Buncombe voters approved a $30 million General Obligation bond to fund projects that conserve open space, build greenways, and expand passive recreation opportunities. The goals at the heart of the Open Space Bond are to preserve the natural beauty of Buncombe County, increase the quality of life for its residents, and improve access to passive recreational activities in the area.

For any questions or to schedule a one-on-one consultation, email Open Space Bond Project Manager, Jill Carter at

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