Mark Twain once said, “Buy land, they’re not making it any more.” With that in mind, we should celebrate our land heritage and do everything we can to preserve it for generations to come. On June 2, for the 15th year, the Mast Store is celebrating Land Trust Day by hosting the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) at the stores in Waynesville and Asheville. At the end of the day, a donation of 20% of the day’s sales will be given to SAHC.
The operations of a land trust are often misunderstood. It is not a government agency; it is a non-profit organization that holds the deed in trust under the agreement reached between it and the landowner. This voluntary relationship includes the uses that will be permitted on the land in the trust, which can include recreational use, farmland, and even limited development.
The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy has been busy over the course of the last year. Recently completed projects include protecting 526 acres of high-elevation forested slopes near Swannanoa, which are visible from the Blue Ridge Parkway, and 541 acres that are in the Marshall watershed (this project is the sixth undertaken to protect municipal watershed lands). SAHC is also active in protecting agricultural land. The Community Farm in Alexander provides a working, educational model demonstrating how productive agriculture and environmental health go hand in hand. It also serves as a farm incubator program, which helps beginning farmers launch agriculture-based business.
While the landowner may benefit from tax incentives, we all benefit from having open space, wildlife habitat, recreational areas, and even cultural and historical preservation. Many of the greenways we enjoy are pieced together through land trust easements. Family farms are kept in the family by utilizing these organizations. Endangered species and ecologically important areas are preserved with these agreements.
Lisa Cooper, the president of Mast Store, shared, “We believe in the work land trusts do in all our communities because we want to see children put their feet in the stream and families spending time together on picnics and hikes. These are just some of the reasons we partner with land trusts and support their work with 20% of our sales on Land Trust Day.”
Stop by any Mast Store on Saturday, June 2 to learn more about land trusts and to support conservation efforts in the local area. For more information, call the Mast Store in Asheville at 828-232-1883 or in Waynesville at 828-452-2101.