Letter: Ask commissioners to support conservation effort

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I’m writing to encourage people to write to their county commissioners in support of increasing funds in the county budget for land conservation to $750,000 per year. This is +/- 0.2% of the whole county budget, and funds would be primarily used to leverage landowner charitable gifts and state, private and federal dollars to pay for conservation easements. Buncombe County has been contributing funds to land conservation since the early 2000s and has set a fantastic track record of leveraging $10 of private, state and federal dollars for every $1 contributed by Buncombe County.

On Feb. 16, [Commissioner] Terri Wells provided a well-rounded briefing that links the recently developed Buncombe County Strategic Plan to the need for a financial commitment from the county toward land conservation. It’s always good to be reminded of the multiple leveraged impacts of land conservation (the gift that keeps on giving), which include productive farmland and pristine forests and steams, air quality, scenic beauty, carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat — all things that contribute to our overall quality of life.

Terri’s presentation is well balanced with the need to recognize that we are also a growing county, and people will need places to live. Thus this effort to preserve the best of what’s left when it comes to soil, water and ecological benefits, will of course be relatable to the need for affordable housing, free market choices that also drive development and all the infrastructure that goes along with it. The county and its landowners are going to want and need those things, too, which is unavoidable, but Terri was able to balance that thought with the reasonable statement of our need to balance our growing and thriving county with all the benefits that come from the natural world as well.

Offering up this information for a county-level initiative is one thing, but putting it in perspective nationally and globally is something Terri did that was really helpful and inspiring. Terri brought up the 30-by-30 campaign that Biden’s administration has adopted for the U.S. to conserve 30% of its land and water resources by the year 2030. 30×30 is a worldwide international campaign that we can be part of on our local level by asking Buncombe County commissioners to lead the way locally by committing financially to putting conservation dollars on the ground.

Knowing that we are part of something much bigger than just what we are working on in Buncombe County is vital to our ability to keep each other inspired and for our ability to educate our leaders and citizens alike. Taking some time to get familiar with the global 30-by-30 effort is worth doing. There has never been what seemed like such a crucial time for understanding how we can continue to feed, clothe and sustain ourselves without crushing the natural world to death. Jennifer Harrison, Buncombe County Soil & Water Conservation District director, also attended and mentioned that our Soil and Water Conservation District staff is currently going through training with a carbon farming pilot project that will be rolled out as we get more familiar with all that it involves.

If this resonates with you, please go to the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners’ webpage, where you can email your commissioners directly from there.

Thank you for your consideration of the proposed funding that Commissioner Wells has brought forward.

— William Hamilton Jr.
Vice Chair, Buncombe County Soil and Water District


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3 thoughts on “Letter: Ask commissioners to support conservation effort

  1. Robert McGee

    While you’re contacting County Commissioners in support of Commissioner Wells’s wise hopes and plans for our area, please consider writing letters to the mayors of Woodfin and Asheville to oppose The Bluffs mega development being proposed to wipe out 80+ acres of pristine forest between Richmond Hill Park and our beloved French Broad River.

    Please ask local council members to stand up for long-time citizens to ensure that The Bluffs developer commits to completing comprehensive and fully transparent environmental and traffic studies and gaining all necessary permits and approvals for his bridge to Woodfin *before starting construction* on this project that would dump polluted storm water runoff into the French Broad River.

    Please visit the River Rescue FB page for more information and to keep up to date. And please consider joining the April 5th Zoom Hearing with the Town of Woodfin at 6:30pm to let local officials know that you’re watching and that you expect them to vote responsibly. The time to take a stance is now. When this land is gone, it will be gone forever.

    Please visit Town of Woodfin website for details the day of April 5th.

    • NIMBY

      Yes. NIMBY. Who needs affordable housing? Asheville, but not in my backyard! Every denied new home will drive up prices of our existing limited supply. Our problems will only get worse if we keep this up.

  2. Stan Hawkins

    “Buncombe County has set a fantastic track record” – Pardon a little bluntness – Bull!

    I find it interesting, puzzling, and perhaps just a tad disingenuous to ask for more public dollars – touting Federal initiatives while our county is the most littered county in Western North Carolina by far. I would suggest to our county commissioners, along with this piece author, that omitting this obvious fact in the midst of our “green ambitions” suggests (I hope I wrong) that this is just about money and self interest.

    My wife and I put on some safety clothing, obtained a very large trash bag, and walked a 125 yard stretch of highway last week. Using self manufactured trash spears, we managed to fill completely a large trash bag having to drag it near the end of our efforts. This we plan to do at least once each month in an effort to maintain the “green-ness” of this stretch of land. This is our “green / land conservation new deal.”

    Let’s talk “real world green / conservation” sir before we go asking for another ‘six figure” sum of money from the pockets of county citizens. It just takes a little bit of real leadership. I am old enough to remember the television commercial from my youth of a proud Native American with a tear running down his face in reaction to the littering of America. We still have time to turn this around without spending a fortune.

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