Input Sought on Working Lands Plan
BY FLORENCE GILKESON
A final draft of the Moore County Working Lands Protection Plan is ready for review and comment by the public.
The comment period will end Friday, Sept. 16.
The draft plan is the result of collaboration by the Moore County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Cooperative Extension Service and the county’s Department of Planning and Community Development.
For the past four months, the plan has been reviewed by a Consensus Working Group made up of four members of the Soil and Water District Board of Supervisors and three members each from the Moore County Agriculture Advisory Board and the Planning Board.
The purpose of the plan is to provide an assessment of the farm and forestry industries in the county, identify their challenges and opportunities, and develop a set of strategies and actions that will protect the county’s working lands and promote the agricultural economy.
The plan was developed after intensive research was conducted involving statistical analysis, published reports, surveys and interviews with local producers, business operators, residents and agricultural support personnel, according to a news release from the Moore County Public Information Office.
The Farmland Preservation Trust Fund enabling legislation says a direct benefit of adoption of a working lands protection plan will be preference for project selection and an increase in funding. Funds available through the trust fund are in the form of grants and are subject to availability from legislative appropriations.
The 80-page document covers everything from the latest agriculture statistics to the effect of latter day economic and environmental issues. Information is included about such things as the Fort Bragg expansion, the possible effect of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract natural gas, farmers markets, the Farm to Table program, longleaf pine and red-cockaded woodpecker conservation, and the Voluntary Agriculture District.
“The intent of this plan is neither to limit nor restrict landowners’ rights and uses,” the executive summary concludes. “The plan is intended to serve as a guide for actions to provide landowners and residents an increased awareness of farmland preservation opportunities and agricultural awareness.
“Agriculture is important to the county and its economy and to the well-being of family farms. However, the ultimate decision of farmland preservation rests in the hands of the landowners of farms and forests.”
The draft plan may be viewed or downloaded at http://www.moorecountync.-
gov/index.php/en/working-lands-protection-plan. Two appendices are also available, one on state law pertaining to present use value assessment, the other on information about the equine industry in North Carolina.
Printed copies of the draft plan may be viewed by visiting the conservation and Extension offices in the Agricultural Center or the planning department office in the Carriage Oaks Complex, all in Carthage. Printed copies are also on file at the Moore County main library in Carthage and at the county library branches in Aberdeen, Pinebluff, Robbins and Vass.
Interested people who cannot access the draft from these sources may call Jeremy Rust, long-range planner with the Department of Planning and Community Development, at (910) 947-5010.
Questions and comments about the plan may be submitted to Rust at the planning department, 1048 Carriage Oaks Drive (P.O. Box 905), Carthage, NC 28327, or to Jonathan Russell, director, Moore County Soil and Water Conservation District, Agricultura Center, 707 Pinehurst Ave. (P.O. Box 908), Carthage, NC 28327.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at email@example.com.
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