Private working lands (farms and forests) are natural engines that drive the economy while providing clean air and water, wildlife habitat, groundwater recharge and recreational areas. Yet, working lands are at risk from threats and pressures of extensive and often unplanned development. Landowners and citizens have witnessed North Carolina’s rapid population  growth and the change in our rural landscape.

When farm and forests are kept intact and “working”, they maintain the quality of life that North Carolinians and visitors enjoy. Fields and forests are the visual backdrop where 18% of the State’s jobs originate — contributing $78 billion to the NC economy!

As North Carolina grows, the rural landscape faces the same threats and pressures related to land use changes in the urban core. Unplanned development, encroachment, and incompatible land uses threaten the health of working lands and natural systems — just as they threaten military training and readiness in NC. This includes the bases, the “away areas” and “corridors” that link military bases and airfields with remote training ranges. To proactively address this issue, the North Carolina Sentinel Landscapes Partnership seeks to create innovative strategies for sustaining and promote a healthy and valued landscape for three primary interests: private working lands, conservation, and national defense.


This Working Lands Conservation program is but one part of this effort. Included in this program are a training curriculum and training manual for agency and resource managers, as well as the award winning landowner handbook.

We hope you will take advantage of these resources to inform yourself, or farmers and landowners you know, on the steps to creating a flexible, workable, voluntary conservation plan for the future of your land.