Saturday, July 31, 2004

YOU Can Create a Land Legacy 

YOU can create a Land Legacy, a Preserve, possibly named for you, a gift from you and your family and to North Carolina’s unique and to be treasured mountain lands.

In order to enjoy the financial benefits that accompany this transaction, your Preserve must qualify as an outstanding natural area. In North Carolina, we define “natural areas” as, “ areas of land and water, or both land and water, whether publicly or privately owned, that retains or has reestablished its natural character, provides habitat for rare or endangered species of plants or animals, or has biotic, geological, scenic, or paleontological features of scientific or educational value..”

But what is an “OUTSTANDING natural area”, and what is entailed in creating a Land Legacy, a Preserve? In order to answer these questions, you will need to gather information. That's where North Carolina's Nature Preserves Act comes in.


Almost twenty years ago, the continued population growth and land development in North Carolina prompted the enactment of North Carolina’s Nature Preserves Act (http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/wq/LandPreservationNotebook/statutes/nc/naturepreservesact.pdf )in which is written: “areas of natural significance be identified and preserved before they are destroyed.”

The Act declares: “Natural areas are irreplaceable as laboratories for scientific research, as reservoirs of natural materials for uses that may not now be known, as habitats for plant and animal species and biotic communities, as living museums where people may observe natural biotic and environmental systems and the interdependence of all forms of life, and as reminders of the vital dependence of the health of the human community on the health of the other natural communities.” The North Carolina Nature Preserves Act hinges on the idea that it is “important to the people of North Carolina that they retain the opportunity to maintain contact with these natural communities and environmental systems of the earth and to benefit from the scientific, aesthetic, cultural, and spiritual values they possess.”

Almost two decades have passed since North Carolina’s legislators established by rule the criteria for selection, registration, and dedication of natural areas and nature preserves. Acting on our behalf, the lawmakers created and maintain a State Registry of voluntarily protected natural areas called the North Carolina Registry of Natural Heritage Areas. (Find definitions for these areas here: http://www.ils.unc.edu/parkproject/resource/scorp/c.pdf )

In addition, North Carolina, has established a Natural Heritage Program (see http://www.ils.unc.edu/parkproject/nhp/ ) to provide assistance in the selection and nomination for registration or dedication of natural areas. This program includes classification of natural heritage resources, an inventory of their locations, and a data bank for that information.


Nature preserves may be acquired by gift, grant, or purchase, and they have provisions relating to management, use, development, transfer, and public access. Nature preserves may be dedicated by voluntary act of the owner. The owner of a qualified natural area also may transfer fee simple title or other interest in land to the State and enjoy certain fiscal benefits as a result. As we mentioned above, if you are interested in creating a Land Legacy, your Preserve must qualify as an outstanding natural area.

The lands must be “…irreplaceable as laboratories for scientific research, as reservoirs of natural materials for uses that may not now be known, as habitats for plant and animal species and biotic communities, as living museums where people may observe natural biotic and environmental systems and the interdependence of all forms of life, and as reminders of the vital dependence of the health of the human community on the health of the other natural communities.” But how does one find such a treasure?


Many times each year we greet people who intend to search for, find and set aside a land treasure in our Western North Carolina Appalachians. This might be real property with an incredible waterfall, or high country with an expansive Alpine meadow, or a private estate with equestrian trails adjacent to one of our National Forests. It makes sense that such effort can have not only aesthetic but financial rewards.

(Land Trust financial benefits: please contact LandTrustREALTOR @www.janeAnne.com)

But how does one FIND that treasure?

The variety and majesty of western North Carolina landscapes has always attracted people to our area. Today, however, locating large acreage tracts for sale in North Carolina can be challenging

Remember, in the State of North Carolina, we have dedicated more than a million acres to the National Forests Pisgah and Nantahala. State parks and forests also hold thousands of acres. So large tracts of land in Western North Carolina are rare, and this especially is true in the Greater Asheville area.

To assist you in scouting for YOUR treasure,

find a Real Estate professional who knows the land.

Most real estate professionals are residential specialists. The land specialist is an uncommon breed… someone who, with eyes closed, can tell you where s/he is by the “atmosphere” of the land.** This is the kind of person who will be able to understand your own preferences.

**This is really not that hard to do, but it takes being mindful of the land. Try it yourself: Let your imagination carry you to the windy slopes of a horse farm with steep pastures at 3,000 feet. Now travel to another horse farm down in the Sandy Mush valley, where the scent of heather is in the air on a summer morning.

Connect with someone who is aware that land in these mountains may very well NOT be listed in our MLS system. Treasures are not likely to be advertised on the Internet, either. Most often we Real Estate professionals hear about land treasures by word-of-mouth as we talk with our colleagues and neighbors. Awe-inspiring land tracts are still available IF you know how to find them…and we do!

Please contact EcoREALTOR @www.janeAnne.com to connect with a professional who not only has knowledge of our geographic region, its coves and hollers, ridges and mountain tops, but actually likes to explore back roads and go “the extra mile” with you, including putting you in touch with resources for making your dreams a reality.

Please do choose to be a part of a growing number of folks who are building Land Legacies for the future.


The Nature Conservancy (http://nature.org/), founded in 1951, is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of land, water and plant and animal life through scientific practices that achieve tangible results. Their stated mission is to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. By partnering with communities, businesses and individuals, they steward millions of acres around the world.

The Nature Conservancy offers various programs to this end. You can make a gift to The Nature Conservancy which has a flexible and simple way to combine philanthropy with financial planning. And enjoy favorable financial and/or tax benefits.

See http://nature.org/joinanddonate/giftandlegacy/

The Nature Conservancy’s "Conservation Buyer" Program, is another pragmatic approach that recognizes the interests of property buyers, sellers, realtors, conservationists, and the community. By working together, land trusts and conservation buyers can protect and put into Preserves thousands of acres of land across the nation that are beyond the means of conservation organizations to purchase alone. How does it work?

Conservation organizations are increasingly turning to conservation buyers for assistance with land protection efforts in certain areas or on certain types of projects. Conservation buyers are individuals who buy a property that is subject to a permanent and legally binding conservation restriction or who will impose a conservation restriction as part of their purchase.

A conservation restriction – also known as a CONSERVATION EASEMENT
http://ohioline.osu.edu/cd-fact/1261.html ) limits certain uses of a property, such as the right to subdivide and develop.

****IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO NOTE: Because use of this land is permanently restricted, land subject to a conservation restriction is generally appraised at a lower value than comparable unrestricted parcels and donation of such a conservation restriction can constitute a charitable gift and reap tremendous financial rewards for you.

A conservation restriction can be held by either a public or qualified private nonprofit organization.A conservation restriction being imposed by the buyer at time of purchase can be customized to the needs of both the buyer and the land. If no home exists on the property, a restriction can usually be structured to allow some construction under strict guidelines that protect the property’s natural assets. What are the advantages of the conservation buyer program?

The property remains in private ownership and on the local tax rolls. The restrictions stay with the property, even if it is sold or transferred, and therefore limit the use of the property permanently. These restrictions are binding in perpetuity, and designed for a distinct conservation purpose. Many communities reduce property tax assessments on land with a conservation restriction in place, because the site's potential to be further developed has been reduced or eliminated. A final advantage is limited housing development and sprawl, which cost communities more than they contribute in tax revenues.


The North Carolina Chapter of The Nature Conservancy has protected more than 100 beautiful sites across the state. Most of the sites, while full of natural charm, also have adequate public access but are situated such that public exploration will not endanger fragile natural communities.

One of the sites within hours of Asheville is MOUNT MITCHELL. When you come to explore our area of the country, this is ONE place you will not want to miss! The State of North Carolina established its first state park at Mount Mitchell in 1915 to protect the area's virgin Fraser fir from timbering. The North Carolina Chapter purchased 84 acres of additional land for Mount Mitchell State Park in 1997.At 6,684 feet above sea level, Mount Mitchell is the highest peak in the eastern United States and contains an extensive area of spruce-fir forest, one of the country's rarest ecosystems.

Spruce-fir forest is abundant in a large region of northern North America, but south of New England the forest type is only found in a narrow band in the Appalachian Mountains. This natural community is characterized by evergreens, particularly red spruce and Fraser fir, and harbors many species that are closely related to species in the spruce-fir forests of New England.In North Carolina, spruce-fir forest occurs at elevations above 5,500 feet where cool temperatures and high moisture are prevalent conditions. The forests are remnants from the last ice age some 18,000 years ago and have become refuges for species that cannot tolerate warmer, drier conditions. This forest type is declining due to the negative effects of air pollution, in particular, acid rain.


There are so many amazing real properties that qualify as “outstanding natural areas”. YOU can take part in funding and founding nature preserves by investing in such a property. The owner of a qualified natural area even may transfer fee simple title or other interest in land to the State. Nature preserves may be acquired by gift, grant, or purchase.

Please contact EcoREALTOR@ www.janeAnne.com to begin the process of creating of your Land Legacy.

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