THE WALTHOUR-MOSS FOUNDATION DONATES CONSERVATION EASEMENT TO PROTECT 3,946 ACRES OF PINE FOREST
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Stephen Later, Chairman, The Walthour-Moss Foundation
Southern Pines, North Carolina – The Walthour-Moss Foundation and the United States Forest Service joined to preserve 3,946 acres of longleaf pine forest in southern Moore County, North Carolina, with a conservation easement that protects wildlife habitat and water quality and the rural character of the landscape.
A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or governmental agency that permanently restricts the development of property in order to protect its conservation values. The land will remain owned and controlled by The Walthour-Moss Foundation and is open to the public for equestrian use. It is one of the largest conservation easements completed by the United States Forest Service in the decades-long history of the Forest Legacy Program. The Forest Legacy Program aims to protect and conserve important forests threatened by conversion to non-forest uses including development.
“This conservation easement is a component of our long-term plan to protect this land and to ensure that it permanently remains intact and available for equestrian use,” said Stephen Later, the Chairman of The Walthour-Moss Foundation. “Many people contributed their time and treasure to assemble and to preserve this forest over the past century. This is an expression of our gratitude for their commitment,” he added.
“The Forest Service is thrilled to be one of the many partners preserving this beautiful tract through a large-scale Forest Legacy Program project,” said Southern Regional Forester Ken Arney. “The size and natural resource value of the forest will help protect our air, water and wildlife.”
“This conservation easement is remarkably robust in its protections. It ensures that our forest will remain permanently available to future generations to enjoy without intrusion by buildings, roads, power lines, pipelines or other development,” Later also said.
“It is no secret that our community is growing. Our goal is to make sure that we have open space for people to ride horses into the future,” said Landon Russell, Executive Director of The Walthour-Moss Foundation.
The Nature Conservancy will monitor the easement for the Forest Service. “This is a win for nature and people,” said Nature Conservancy scientist Jeff Marcus. “The Foundation is an important tract of land that provides valuable habitat. The Foundation property remains largely like Moore County was a century ago.”
Based in Southern Pines, North Carolina, The Walthour-Moss Foundation is the only nature preserve in North Carolina, and one of the few in the United States, with a stated mission designating it as a place for equestrian activities. The Walthour-Moss Foundation lands include 4,198 acres and constitute one of the largest private stands of longleaf pine in North Carolina. The Walthour-Moss Foundation lands are home to over 650 plant species and over 31 documented rare or threatened species of flora and fauna.
The Walthour-Moss Foundation has worked to preserve land in the Horse County area of southern Moore County, North Carolina since 1978 and is one of approximately 400 land trusts across the United States accredited by the Land Trust Alliance.
The Walthour-Moss Foundation lands were declared a Significant Natural Heritage Area by North Carolina Natural Heritage Program. The Walthour-Moss Foundation was recognized in 2017 by the United States Forest Service and the North Carolina Forest Service for its outstanding resource management.
A 2,500-acre portion of the lands held by The Walthour-Moss Foundation was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013 as nationally significant due to its long history of conservation and the integrity of the landscape.