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Land conservancy kicks off campaign

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Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Piedmont Land Conservancy has launched the public phase of a capital campaign to raise $3.2 million.

Chaired by Eric Calhoun, president of Richardson Corporation in Greensboro, the campaign already has received $2.3 million in pledges and gifts, including $100,000 from the Weaver Foundation.

Of the total it aims to raise, the Greensboro-based land trust will use $2.2 million to fund direct land-protection projects and to increase its revolving fund, which provides dollars to let the land trust take quick action and protect larger properties when it has the opportunity.

It will use the remaining $1 million for responsible stewardship of protected lands and for community education efforts.

Formed in 1990, the conservancy has protected over 15,000 acres in 135 projects in a region that includes Alamance, Caswell, Forsyth, Guilford, Randolph, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin counties.

Current conservancy projects include the Fisher Peak Natural Heritage area and Piedmont Regional Greenway, as well as its revolving fund.

At nearly 3,500 feet, Fisher Peak in Surry County marks the highest elevation in the nine-county region.

The Fisher Peak project includes four pieces of property totaling 1,700 acres, including 350 acres the conservancy acquired last spring, 413 acres it has an option to
purchase in December, and two parcels totaling roughly 900 acres owned by an out-of-state owner with whom the conservancy plans to begin negotiating soon.

An individual donor recently agreed to give $200,000 for the Fisher Peak project to match the first $200,000 the conservancy can raise for the project, says Kevin Redding, executive director.

The conservancy aims to acquire land or easements stretching for roughly 19 miles to create the Piedmont Regional Greenway, which will connect Greensboro and Winston-Salem.

Of the total, which will serve as a segment of the 935-mile “Mountains to Sea Trail” that will connect Clingman’s Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the Outer Banks, roughly four miles have been completed.

The first leg, completed a year ago, recently was dedicated to Kathy Treanor, who founded the conservancy.

The conservancy uses its revolving fund to help acquire land for government entities such as Haw River State Park, Mayo River State Park and the North Carolina Zoo.

While those groups might want to acquire land, Redding says, they may lack the funds to buy it when it goes on the market.

So the conservancy will use the revolving fund to buy land for those government entities, which in turn would reimburse the conservancy, he says.

Overall, he says, the campaign aims to raise funds the conservancy can use to be more “proactive” in addressing a growing demand for protection and stewardship of land in the region.

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