For more than fifteen years, The Orton Foundation and The North Carolina Coastal Land Trust (NCCLT) have partnered to advance strategic land preservation efforts in the Cape Fear region and beyond. Past milestones have ranged from capitalizing on the “sun setting” of the state of North Carolina’s conservation tax credit to enable important conservation easements; and researching, drafting and advocating for a ratified state-wide bill that makes Venus flytrap theft a felony offense.

Last year, The Orton Foundation, an affiliate of Louis Bacon‘s Moore Charitable Foundation, accelerated NCCLT’s Cape Fear River conservation efforts and increased the amount of protected land in The Basin. “We saw several conservation opportunities opening up in the lower Cape Fear River corridor and reached out to The Orton Foundation for support in pursuing them, and we’re already putting these funds to work,” explained Camilla Herlevich, Executive Director of the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust.

In December 2016, the Coastal Land Trust completed its first new conservation easement in more than a decade in the Town Creek watershed, a key tributary of the lower Cape Fear River and a organizational priority.  The conservation easement protects a 57-acre parcel on Slab Branch in Brunswick County, and was donated by Marty Lanier and his family.

Marty Lanier and Family, surrounded by longleaf pine

In late 2016 The North Carolina Land Trust worked with the Lanier family of Brunswick County to place a conservation easement over their 57-plus acres property along Slab Branch, a Town Creek tributary. The effort reflects the Coastal Land Trust’s goal of protecting the forested corridor along this ecologically significant waterway.

The Coastal Land Trust is pursuing even more ambitious acquisitions in the region, seeking grants from mitigation funds and other sources, for projects that could result in the protection of 1,000 acres, adding to the 17,000 acres along the lower Cape Fear River in Brunswick County already protected.

Of note: The Cape Fear’s historic and cultural resources are also important to both The Orton Foundation and the Coastal Land Trust, especially the effort to preserve places that are significant to the Gullah-Geechee people and their descendants. “The Coastal Land Trust is fortunate to have a working partnership with the Town of Navassa to pursue Gullah-Geechee and other places that are conservation priorities for African-American communities in the region,” said Camilla Herlevich, “and the support of The Orton Foundation and others in this work. We are so very fortunate to have them in the neighborhood!”