Rowan County Commission Chairman and Wife Donate Conservation Easement

The LandTrust for Central North Carolina has announced the protection of another tract of land in Northern Rowan County along Second Creek. Rowan County Commissioner Steve Blount and his wife Melanie have donated a conservation easement to The LandTrust which will help protect the water quality, wildlife habitat, and scenic beauty of their 57 acre tract for many generations to come.

The donation is significant for two reasons. First, it is adjacent to a 140 acre farm that Dr. Donald and Marie Lomax protected with a conservation easement last year. The Blount easement expands not only the physical boundaries of the previously protected land along Potneck Road and Second Creek, but also adds significant value to the plant, animal, and water ecosystems which can enjoy a larger permanent habitat in which to thrive.

The second noteworthy aspect of this conservation easement is that it marks the first easement donated by an elected official in the entire region. Steve Blount is the current Chairman of the Rowan County Commissioners. He observed, "It’s easy to talk as a politician about the values of protecting open spaces and our community’s farms from the pressures of development. It’s easy to advocate personal sacrifice when it’s someone else’s land and money at stake. We talked as a family about the various options available to us for this land, and [we] all agreed that the conservation easement was the right thing to do."

Adds LandTrust President Jim Beall Graham of Linwood (himself a former Davidson County Commissioner), "We commend Commissioner Blount for leading by example. This easement reflects the growing support for land conservation in our region. From farmers to elected officials, many people are coming together to protect our region’s quality of life and we are excited about what this means for all of our futures."

The land, which is mostly wooded and includes over 1500 linear feet of frontage along scenic Second Creek, was part of a larger tract that belonged to Commissioner Blount’s Great, Great, Great Grandfather –Mr. John Cyrus Miller. Commissioner Blount said of the land "Some of my fondest childhood memories were of times spent here at ‘Ellie’s Farm’. I dreamed from an early age of building a small log cabin in the woods and living the simple life out here." After purchasing the property from his aunt earlier this year, Steve and Melanie began to plan how to realize those dreams. And since those immediate dreams included merely a cabin in the woods and a potential camp for disadvantaged children, the conservation easement proved a good fit for them.

A conservation easement is a flexible but legally-binding agreement between a landowner and a qualified conservation organization like The LandTrust. In such an agreement, the landowner commits to keeping the land in a relatively undeveloped state, although some limited building of homes and other structures may be permitted. In the case of this particular easement, Steve and Melanie Blount will be allowed to build the house they want and even run a camp that accommodates horses and other farm animals. However, they will not be allowed to do anything to the property which would harm its basic natural character. Perhaps most importantly, the Blounts have agreed to keep in place a 100 foot buffer along Second Creek, which will help protect the water quality of the creek itself. And although the Blounts are free to sell or give away the land to whomever they wish, future owners of this property will also be bound by the same terms.

Jason Walser, Associate Director of Land Protection for The LandTrust, remarked "The Blount easement is yet another major step towards realizing our vision of a protected corridor along the South Yadkin River and Second Creek. This is an area of tremendous natural beauty, but one which is under increasing development pressures. When you consider the 300 acre Catawba Wildlife Refuge we purchased last year [which has significant frontage along both Second Creek and the South Yadkin River] and the 140 acre Lomax farm easement protecting Second Creek, we are starting to see significant steps toward the permanent preservation of water quality and a significant wildlife corridor in this region. And since more than one million people downstream depend on this water for their drinking supply, the generous gifts the Blounts and Lomaxes have made will be realized by countless numbers for generations to come."

The LandTrust for Central North Carolina is a non-profit land conservation organization that protects the natural areas, family farms, and wildlife habitat throughout the south-central Piedmont of North Carolina. They currently have four thousand acres of property permanently protected in the Yadkin / Pee Dee River watershed with several more large-scale projects pending. For further information about The LandTrust’s ongoing programs, or to learn how you can help support the ongoing efforts of land preservation in this region, please contact the staff at (704) 647-0302.
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