Save Our Sandhills Hosts SALT Director
On Oct. 28, Save Our Sandhills will host Candace Williams, executive director of the Sandhills Area Land Trust (SALT) to discuss "The Best Kept Secrets in the Sandhills: The Work of the Sandhills Area Land Trust - Past, Present, and Future."
The meeting is Thursday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. at the Southern Pines Civic Club, at the corner of Ashe Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.
North Carolina's 25 land trusts have protected more than 309,000 acres of natural lands across the state. And SALT, our local land trust based in Fayetteville and Southern Pines, has recently been credited with protecting more than 10,000 acres of land in the Sandhills region.
With burgeoning development in the Sandhills, slowed only by a faltering economy, SALT's efforts are essential to preserving open space.
Since 1991, it has been targeting prime pieces to preserve in Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, Moore, Richmond and Scotland counties. These pieces are primarily working forests, farmlands, riparian buffers and significant natural areas. While its first few years of existence involved setting up a solid infrastructure, its past 10 years have brought in the majority of acreage under SALT's stewardship. It has evolved from a volunteer-run organization to a professionally recognized organization which operates under the standards and practices of the Land Trust Alliance, the national support organization for land trusts nationwide. Its accomplishments have been wide-reaching:
1. Protecting water quality and drinking water supplies in the Drowning Creek, Little River, McLendons Creek and Cape Fear River areas.
2. Preserving numerous working farms.
3. Preserving historic and cultural lands, including the Aversboro Civil War Battlefield, Pottery Road and Rhodes Pond
4. Preserving Horse Country land
5. Securing military training lands; some sizable projects are planned for the future.
Candace Williams, a native of the Sandhills, has worked for 25 years in New England. >She is a conservation biologist and has a master's degree in that discipline from Antioch University in Keene, N.H. > She has worked and studied in many parts of the world such as the Arctic Circle, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, Trinidad, Tobago, Chile and Baja. Most recently, she traveled to Cuba, where she was part of a research team contributing to a long-term baseline study of the 24 endemic avian species in Cuba, identifying their habitats for future protection efforts. The focus of her work has been endangered species and habitat protection.
Williams returned to North Carolina in 1999 to work as one of the state sea turtle biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. Her work prior to returning to N.C. was with the Massachusetts Audubon Society's Coastal Waterbird Program in charge of all the coastal nesting bird colonies along the South Shore of Massachusetts, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket; the Manomet Center for Conservation Science as an avian researcher; and the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. She was also part of the working team that authored the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan, a model for other countries around the world.
Since 2001, Williams has worked for the Sandhills Area Land Trust, first as associate director of the organization in charge of land protection. In October 2009, she became the executive director. She has been instrumental in protecting over half of the 10,000 acres of land protected by the organization in the Sandhills.
Williams was the recipient of the 2006 Governor's Conservation Achievement Award as the Land Conservationist of the Year, the state's highest natural resource honor. She was also the recipient of the National Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution's Woman in American History Award for her contribution to conservation.
"All are welcome to attend," says a spokesman.
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