Losing equestrian lands

Published 4:06 pm Tuesday, February 6, 2018

TRYON – According to the Equestrian Land Conservation Resource (ELCR) the United States loses more than 40 acres of productive farmland to development every hour and North Carolina leads the nation in loss. As more and more development comes to the foothills, local equestrians are asking how this will affect our equine-based economy.

Conserving Carolina is hosting a free symposium, “Our Changing Equestrian Landscape,” on February 27 at Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE). The symposium will feature land conservation advocate David Twiggs, Executive Director of the Master of Foxhounds Association.

The symposium will feature a panel of local experts in a discussion of topics for land preservation. Topics will include using existing government programs for land protection, conservation protection strategies and the link between horse health and appropriate land.

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“As I travel the area and interview folks for the newsletter, I see first hand how excellent open, undeveloped land necessary for a strong equine economy is being converted and divided up,” said Libbie Johnson, ELCR board member and producer of the “This Week in Tryon Horse County” newsletter.  “It is a problem that is only going to get worse as Polk County and the surrounding area gets ‘discovered.’”

According to Conserving Carolina the foothills area faces threats to its agricultural lands in the forms of giant power lines coming through the area, family lands being converted to other uses, or agricultural lands lost due to inability to pay property taxes.

Conserving Carolina urges people to talk to county officials about how important it is to keep our hay fields, trails, pastures and wildlife land intact and productive.

“We know from Polk County’s Comprehensive 20/20 Vision Plan that preserving prime farmland is a priority for citizens and the county,” said Dawn Jordan, Polk County Agricultural Economic Development Director. “This symposium [on February 27] is a great way to learn more about identifying a variety of opportunities to protect our rich agriculture resources.”

The Our Changing Equestrian Landscape Symposium will be held February 27 from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at FENCE. In addition to the panel discussions, there will be plenty of opportunities for questions and answers.

Admission is free and includes coffee, light snacks and lunch. RSVP is required. For more information about the seminar and to RSVP, please call the Polk County Conserving Carolina office at 828-859-5060 or the Henderson County office at 828-697-5777.