Military looking to partner with Eastern N.C. landowners
Private landowners in 18 Eastern North Carolina counties may be eligible for a program to protect rural lands from development while preserving existing military flight paths.
The Market Based Conservation Initiative is a partnership between the U.S. Marine Corps and the N.C. Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation, whose purpose is to support local soil and water conservation districts. The foundation will enter into contracts with private landowners who have tax parcels under a military flight path.
For the length of their contracts, landowners will receive annual payments to maintain their property classification as agriculture, forestry, horticulture or wildlife use. Program participation will limit tall structures and upward lighting. Contract lengths can be 10, 20 or 30 years, and funding is provided by the Department of Defense.
"Rapid growth in North Carolina has led to increased development, which challenges our family farms and threatens the state's top two industries – agribusiness, and military training and operations," said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. "This program will assist landowners in maintaining their working lands and allow the military to maintain flight paths for training."
The first project is open to landowners under an identified military training route crossing over portions of the following counties: Beaufort, Bertie, Carteret, Craven, Duplin, Edgecombe, Franklin, Halifax, Harnett, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, Onslow, Pamlico, Sampson and Wake.
Eligible landowners can offer bids per acre to keep their land in agricultural and rural land uses, which are compatible with military training needs. To be eligible, the land will need to be enrolled in the county present-use value program, which requires an active land management plan.
For landowners in Duplin, Harnett, Johnston, Lenoir and Sampson counties, the local soil and water conservation districts are scheduling workshops to provide more detailed program information. Workshops for landowners in the other participating counties have not been planned yet, but will be set up later this year.