In 2000, Mayor Randy Kincaid invited Davidson citizens, town staff, and elected officials to form a task force to explore ways to protect green space. Citizens Ron Charbonneau, Bob Cumming, Lynn Henderson, Chris Sekarak, Martha Strawn, and Elizabeth Whitener were joined by Town Manager Leamon Brice, Town Attorney Rick Kline, Town Planner Dawn Blobaum, and Commissioners David Martin and John Woods.
One of the options that the task force explored was a land conservancy, and if such a conservancy should be independent or linked to the Town. The task force found good examples of town-linked conservancies, such as the Williamsburg Lands Conservancy in Virginia, and independent conservancies, such as the Catawba Lands Conservancy and the LandTrust for Central North Carolina. Given the strained relationship between the rural landowners and the town of Davidson at the time, the task force moved in the direction of an independent land conservancy.
So the task force interviewed key participants from established independent land conservancies. Ron Altmann, Director of the Catawba Lands Conservancy in Charlotte, offered a copy of CLC’s bylaws for reference and his staff’s assistance. Jeff Michael of the LandTrust for Central North Carolina in Salisbury helped the task force to better understand the roles and possibilities of trusts. These meetings began the important relationships between the DLC and these well-established conservancies. By May 2000, the task force decided to form a conservancy independent of the town of Davidson.
At a Town Commissioners’ meeting on May 9, 2000, the task force announced its decisions that the DLC would begin as an independent land conservancy and that the CLC would serve as its founding partner. CLC offered legal advice, staff time, and its legitimacy as a well-founded and successful conservancy. Later, the Town offered the DLC financial support for that first year, an informal relationship that has continued to this day.
At that Commissioners’ meeting, Mayor Kincaid said, “Forming this group independent of town government is an important step in continuing our efforts to moderate growth in Davidson, to keep our surrounding land for the enjoyment of all citizens.”
On July 21, 2000, the State of North Carolina approved the Articles of Incorporation for Davidson Lands Conservancy, Inc. Ron Charbonneau became the registered agent of DLC and served as the President of the first Board of Directors. Robert Cumming, Lynn Henderson, Chris Sekerak, and Martha Strawn also moved from task force to members of the new board. The Executive Committee included President Charbonneau, Vice-President Strawn, Treasurer Budd Berro, Secretary Bob Cumming, and two members at large: Matthew Churchill and DeWitt Crosby.
The Catawba Lands Conservancy played an integral role in DLC’s development. The DLC Board of Directors ratified a Memorandum of Agreement between the two on August 2, 2000, which stated, “The CLC and the DLC can jointly accomplish an increased level of land acquisition and permanent protection in Davidson. Specifically, this partnership effort is directed to the conservation of open space lands in the Davidson region.”
In return for CLC’s assistance, the DLC agreed to pay it $30,000 that first year. In addition, the DLC Board of Directors would be expanded to include two representatives from the CLC, and the CLC Board would have two representatives from the DLC. In the second year, the memorandum was changed to having one DLC member on the CLC’s Board and one DLC representative on the CLC’s Acquisition Committee.
As an additional stipulation of the original memorandum, the CLC was to have provided the DLC with a piece of property by the end of the first year of relationship. Although the CLC did not fulfill this stipulation, the CLC had signed an option on a piece of property by the end of 2001, the potential expiration date of the memorandum. This project became the conservation easement on the Brackett Bluff property owned by Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation that, after challenges arising from neighboring landowners’ violations of the easement, was transferred to the DLC in 2009.
In the spring of 2001, DLC began to identify lands for acquisition and worked to secure a solid membership base. It achieved financial support from a Town grant and a generous private matching donation of $10,000.
It held its first annual meeting in October, 2001. Vice President Strawn succeeded Charboneau and began her role as president. A new board and officers were elected, including VP for Long Range Planning Doug Boone, VP of Development Russ Gavitt, Recording Secretary Bob Cumming, Corresponding Secretary Nancy Lingle, and Treasurer Budd Berro.
The Board of Directors approved the first DLC Project Selection Criteria on February 4, 2002. At the same meeting, the Board reviewed a draft of DLC’s Land Stewardship Policies written by biology professors Dave Grant and Mark Stanback using CLC stewardship documents for reference.
FiveYear (2006-2010) Review of Davidson Lands Conservancy Activity
Worthy of note is that our first executive director was hired in March, 2006. Roy Alexander moved from the board to the part-time position.
Our assets were $23,723. The Town gave us a grant of $7,500.
A wine-tasting at Kudzu raised $336, and selling plants at Town Day raised $145.
We proposed our first Run For Green in April, and realized nearly $5,000 when it was held in September.
Our board member and Town Planning Director, Kris Krider, held out the possibility of the Town growing by more than 100%, with tracts already in the planning stages: Abersham, Bailey Springs, Allen White’s farm, Summer’s Walk, Brackett Bluff, Lake Davidson. All had potential sites for conservation.
A board retreat included a discussion of the Self Assessment done for the Land Trust Alliance.
Two newsletters were distributed.
Hayden Boyd revamped our software for tracking contributions.
In August we discussed having a packet for the schools, and by October we planned to take the program to all fourth grade classes. Pam Dykstra led the effort.
Outlining trails in the area was suggested as a service we could provide.
Sterling Martin elected president.
Our assets were $42,273. We received about $14,000 from Run for Green, which Austri Holland Kollme chaired. Green Ball, organized by environmental club students at Davidson College raised $1966.95 for us, and we participated in Earth Day and Town Day. We received a grant of $7,500 from the Town of D-son.
Our Mayor, Randy Kincaid, outlined Town Goals: 1) Complete the SE greenway; 2) Sidewalk for Avinger Lane; 3) Check growth using waste water rules in the ETJ. 4) Identify areas and manage open space with sensitivity to tree canopy and wildlife habitat. Dramatic growth was still a major stressor.
Abersham owner/developer Frank Jacobus assured us (and the Town) that we would receive an easement on 100 acres. He received some premature publicity and accolades – none of which came to pass, and the land is now in foreclosure (2010).
Summer’s Walk development led us to consider a huge fund-raising effort to purchase uplands adjoining the
wetlands along the South Branch of the Rocky River. $3,000,000 was one estimate.
We purchased bags to use when shopping, etc. as part of our educational outreach. We visited four classes.
We contracted with the Town to oversee the Greenprint effort. Roy will provide the oversight.
We were asked to co-sponsor Davidson Farmer’s Market and did. They were working toward their 501©3.
Tom Ross, new president of Davidson College, was our Annual Meeting speaker. He addressed the issue of Z. Smith Reynolds (a private foundation) not recognizing the need for a conservancy like the DLC, and not therefore supporting its early organizational needs. He had been ED of the ZSR Foundation. He is now head of the UNC system.
Our events, Run For Green, Green Ball organized by Davidson students, Ready, Set, Go (Fisher Farm) organized by Woodland School, realized net income of $19,444.
We took a deep breath and wrote a “Letter of Intent” to purchase 20 acres at 15908 D-son Concord Road.
The happy denoument was, however, that Mecklenburg County purchased the entire 94 acre site including the wetlands and uplands. Never an ill wind that… The stunning downturn in the country’s economy gave this town a chance to take a breath and look at where we were developmentally.
We began looking at two new sites, Archer and Mott properties as possible easement opportunities.
The Education Committee looked at ordering wild life picture place mats. They became wildly popular and were given to each child when a 4th grade class was visited. We proposed to sell them for $3.00 – later raised to $5.00 or four for $15.00. 14 classes were visited.
Katie Epstein joined our board as a student representative. We also had a summer intern.
Lake Davidson and its shoreline had us scrambling to sort out who had jurisdiction over the water, the boats, the docks, the shoreline. Four recommendations were made: 1) Passive water use only; 2) 200 ft. buffer zones; 3) enforcement and oversight clear; 4) Development of public access point for kayaks and canoes. The latter came to fruition in Fall 2010.
Newsletters went out in April and October.
An Earth Day dinner from foods locally produced was held.
We approved a Donor Bill of Rights for those offering land in conservation easement.
The Board gave more time to organizational matters.
We recorded higher numbers of memberships.
Land initiatives were not as active – Abersham foreclosed, Mecklenburg County purchased Summer’s Walk area, a 20 acre tract with rare pink ladyslippers, Bailey Springs in negotiation – we issued a Letter of Interest. Brackett Bluff issues were resolved, however, and the transfer of that easement from Catawba Lands Conservancy was accepted.
Lynn Henderson was hired to be the organizational chair for Run For Green. A poor economy contributed to fewer sponsorships, and therefore less net income. We anticipate raising $15,000 from RFG. We netted $7,112.72. The runners themselves were complimentary about the organization and physical layout. Having the course end at the Village Green and a Green Day on the Green helped with visibility.
Two newsletters were sent.
Using funds received from the Conservation Trust for North Carolina, we voted to approve a contract with Mayes Wilson and Associates for $3,500 for support for “executive, board of governance and land acquisition committees to develop policy and work plans and attain objectives. The remaining $1,500 will go toward the WEB site redesign.”
The Annual meeting was at The Pines. Doug Shoemaker, from UNCC gave a presentation using GIS data to show Mecklenburg County green area loss over time and a sense of what is still available.
Cakey Worthington became our representative from the Davidson College Environmental Club.
Our assets in March, 2010 were $103,675. We received $5,624 from the Town of Davidson.
Green Ball netted $1,900.
Run For Green planning began early, and net income was about $12,000. Five hundred and eighty three runners participated.
Organization structure documents passed (Conflict of Interest, Whistle-blower).
REI offered us a grant of $14,000 to develop a trail and shoreline for putting kayaks and canoes into Lake Davidson. Accomplished., thanks to volunteers including Irwin Brawley, Sterling Martin, Dave Martin, etc.
We passed a resolution in support of a grant application by the Town for the Davidson Bay Waterfront Park.
We initiated a new Membership and Development Committee. Hayden Boyd and Mary Perrin Stark will serve.
The Education Committee initiated WOW, an education effort and outreach to children and their families. Several events such as nature hikes and nature-themed crafts were held by WOW!.
We have a new brochure. Two newsletters were sent, thanks for the past five years to Lacey Dick and Pam Dykstra.
Senator Daniel Clodfelter was speaker at our Annual Meeting. His message was that a new General Assembly needs to hear from its constituents, especially because the State has a $3,5 billion shortfall to plan for next year.