HUNTERESVILLE, N.C. — As Mecklenburg County continues to grow, conservation advocates say there is less and less natural space. A group of neighbors in Huntersville is working to protect land from development. 

What You Need To Know

  • July 28 is World Nature Conservation Day

  • The day stresses the need for preserving the environment, natural resources and greenery

  • A group of neighbors in Huntersville protected 900 acres from development

July 28 is World Nature Conservation Day, which stresses the need for preserving the environment, natural resources and greenery.

That’s why for the last 25 years, Frank Bragg has been slowly working to preserve 900 acres in Huntersville.

Along the McAuley Road Scenic Byway, Bragg and 10 neighbors put the 900 acres they own privately into a conservation easement.  

"Well, it's one of the last, it may be the only last dirt road in the county, and it's the way the county used to look,” said Bragg. "You can drive down this road and you'll see dust or mud. You'll see open fields, you'll see forest, you'll see wetlands.”

A conservation easement means the land can’t be developed.

"So when you write a check to your church or to your university, it's tax deductible because, and the federal government wants to encourage people to support charities,” he said. "When you donate land development rights to a conservation organization, then that's the charitable deduction."

The Catawba Lands Conservancy is the organization granted ownership interest in the easement. 

Bart Landess, the executive director of the Catawba Lands Conservancy, says this means they are responsible for maintaining the conservation of the property, whether Bragg or any successor owns it, so it will continue in perpetuity.

He says the conservancy preserves 17,000 acres of open space across seven counties and 23,000 acres of public parks.

“And in some places there are larger tracts available and lower prices available, but generally it’s very difficult,” Landess said. "And the trick for us is to have enough capital to make these big purchases to keep our space green and keep our quality of life high."

Bragg says he’s not anti-development. He says you just need green space.

“It's a very important part of our economy,” he said. "But at the same time, we need a balance."

"We need to save it for a multitude of reasons,” Bragg added. "Not only that, the trees clean air and take out the carbon and bring in the oxygen, but for the wildlife. So the diversity is very, very important. So the larger the tract of land, the more diversity that hopefully you can have."

Landess says people can help their efforts to save green space by getting involved in local government, as well as supporting their organization.