NCNR announces 61-acre easement

Article Published: Dec. 24, 2013 | Modified: Dec. 24, 2013
NCNR announces 61-acre easement

Stephen and Barbara Benson donated a Conservation Easement on their family land in Ashe County.

Photo submitted

The National Committee for the New River recently announced the protection of a 61-acre property in Ashe County, not far from the community of Todd.

Barbara and Stephen Benson voluntarily donated a conservation easement on their family land to protect, in perpetuity, its “unique open space character,” as well as more than 3,700 feet of streams, wildlife habitat and abundant forestland, according to a NCNR news release.

Additionally, the property ties into a network of previously conserved land in the Todd area.

The Bensons admit they’ve always had a love for the land and a desire to keep it as it is and protect it from development. That desire is now a reality.

“This land was a treasure that my father gave to his children,” Barbara Benson said. “He would be pleased that it will stay as it is, beautiful and full of natural life, for the future generations of his family to walk over and love as he did.”

“The protected streams on the property, which eventually flow into the South Fork (of the) New River, will further enhance the water quality in the river for generations to come,” the release reads.

The South Fork is designated as high-quality waters by the N.C. Division of Water Resources. According to NCNR, “Due to its clean water and rural charm, this section of the river near Todd is very popular for recreational activities, such as canoeing and fishing.”

Funding for the project was made possible by the Conservation Trust for North Carolina, the statewide organization that supports North Carolina’s 23 local land trusts. CTNC offered $1.5 million in grant funds to local land trusts to assist with the completion of conservation projects that take advantage of the expiring N.C. Conservation Tax Credit.

The funds come from Fred and Alice Stanback, an anonymous donor and CTNC’s reserve funds. Dubbed “Money in the Ground,” grants of up to $25,000 per project are being used by the land trusts to underwrite transaction costs — often a stumbling block to the speedy completion of land conservation projects.

Eligible expenses include surveys, appraisals, attorney fees and stewardship funds, which NCNR said are necessary for the successful completion of a conservation transaction and stewardship over the long term.

NCNR works throughout the entire watershed in North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. For more information, visit

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