by Chuck Millsaps
Think back with me to that time when being outside changed you. My emancipation from pavement arrived on the back of my 1968 Schwinn Sting-Ray. I pedaled that banana seat bomber to where the side walk ended – Charlotte’s Sugar Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant*. An adventure which sparked a wildfire of exploration as we flew down poison ivy’d trails through a wilderness of kudzu, cicadas and creek beds.
Growing up, we poured energy into outdoor play with little regard for who built the trails that provide our access. Time and space seemed abundant. And as for the trail-builder, we assumed it was the boogie man – some sasquatch who might appear at any moment and bring it all to a grizzly end. Such fears served to increase our sense of adventure as we escaped the ordinary world to a land of wonder.
Today our fear is less about sasquatch and more about the rapid decline in youth getting outside. You and I know that people need time in nature for their health, happiness, and well-being. But increasingly, children and families are living their lives indoors. It is for this reason that the Great Outdoor Provision Co. is working with the Conservation Trust of North Carolina, our local land trust, to provide a new and meaningful opportunity for youth to connect with nature, and we need your to establish the North Carolina Youth Conservation Corps.
What is a Land Trust?
A land trust/conservancy is a nonprofit organization that actively works to conserve land by undertaking or assisting in direct land transactions. Primarily the purchase or acceptance of donations of land or conservation easements. There are 25 land trusts in North Carolina working to save the places you love by protecting our ecological diversity, water quality and open space.
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A Word on Land Trust Day
Back in the early 70′s when we got started in the outdoor outfitting business, we gave little thought to availability of open spaces for hiking, paddling, running and biking. Pick up a map, match the trip to available time, and go. Over time, those great trips lost some of their character, and the joy in the outings diminished. Viewscapes became cluttered with new development as farmers planted septic tanks for homes instead of agricultural crops; shopping centers grew out of pastures; unofficial “trails” along streams were posted; access to public waters closed.
In 1992 when the first Saturday in June was designated “National Trails Day,” we wanted to do something to celebrate the value of all kinds of “muscle powered” trails. And, we wanted to give something back to one of the cornerstones of our outdoor clothing and equipment business, a self imposed “earth tax,” if you will. We settled on a donating a percent of sales receipts on National Trails Day in all our Great Outdoor Provision Co. stores. We chose local land trusts as the beneficiary as they acquire land for protection thru purchase in the open real estate market or by gift, thereby guaranteeing that the most endangered lands of greatest importance to local communities and regions are protected. Further, land trusts manage “conservation easements,” where landowners donate development rights to their land in order to protect the land’s natural qualities and take advantage of federal and state tax benefits. Often these benefits allow landowners and their heirs to keep land open and undeveloped. Lots of value for the health of the community with very low overhead cost makes for a highly efficient contribution. This year’s “Vote for Land” event allows you to cast a vote to help direct funds to the land trust of your choice. We appreciate the support of Patagonia, Chaco, Columbia & Merrell in helping to make this grant possible.
Since our Land Trust Day in support of National Trails Day started, we have raised over $225,000 for land trusts here in North Carolina. Once again, we are pushing other retailers to join us, with whatever percentage their businesses can afford, in order to maximize the moneys raised and the open spaces saved. We are proud of our stewardship, and ask you to support our efforts by making purchases in one of our stores, or those of one of the other retailers that have joined our efforts, on June 2, 2012. Let’s keep the joy in those all important trips on our local trails.
Tom Valone, Founder
Great Outdoor Provision Co.
- National Trails Day
- Land For Tomorrow
- NC Birding Trail
- Leave No Trace
- Sierra Club
- Nature Conservancy
- Conservation Trust for North Carolina
- The Western North Carolina Alliance
- High Country Conservancy
- Land Trust for Central N.C.
- Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy
- N.C. Coastal Federation
- The Wilderness Society
- Assoc. for Preservation of Eno River Valley
- Tar River Land Conservancy
- Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition
- Piedmont Environmental Alliance
- Catawba Lands Conservancy
- Piedmont Land Conservancy
- Triangle Land Conservancy
- NC Coastal Land Trust