Leaving a Legacy: Landowners in Mecklenburg County work with Conservancy to Make an Impact | Catawba Lands Conservancy
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Leaving a Legacy: Landowners in Mecklenburg County work with Conservancy to Make an Impact

The Willie and Cecil Teeter Estate, Mecklenburg County, NC

In the Carolina Piedmont, a region growing faster than you can say “Bojangles chicken biscuit,” it can sometimes feel like there is hardly any open space left to conserve. But in the past year, Catawba Lands Conservancy has finalized two significant projects in fast-growing Mecklenburg County. Both will leave a lasting impact for future generations.

The first of these projects came to us as a transformative estate gift, valued at over $5.8 million. Willie and Cecil Teeter, both natives of Mecklenburg County with a deep appreciation for nature, made the decision in 2012 to leave their entire estate to the Conservancy. The estate includes 167 acres in Mecklenburg County. Despite no previous connection to the Conservancy, the couple felt strongly about the wildlife and natural areas of their property and reached out on their own to start the bequest process. A substantial portion of the land will be conserved forever. The property includes frontage along Reedy Creek and plays a vital role in water quality protection for the creek and its watershed. The property’s hardwood forests provide habitat connections for various wildlife species, fostering biodiversity in the region. Just as notable as the land gift is how this bequest benefits our other conservation efforts. Proceeds from the estate gift have already been leveraged to support additional projects as matching grants for competitive state and federal funding sources. Offering matching funds for a project gives our grant applications more favorable scoring in statewide funding cycles, which are incredibly competitive.

“Bequests can truly transform an organization,” said Executive Director Bart Landess. “The benefits that the Conservancy will see from the Teeters’ gift will support our work for years to come.”

Historic Preservation and Conservation

The historic Thomas T. Sandifer farmhouse, Mecklenburg County, NC. Photo by Nancy Pierce.

Missy Eppes and Jake Armour, owners of the recently protected Sandifer-Wilson property in western Mecklenburg County, are strong believers in conservation. When the opportunity arose to donate a conservation easement on their property, they jumped at the chance to do it and hope it will inspire their neighbors to do the same. Eppes and Armour’s 10.9-acre property lies between the U.S. National Whitewater Center and Iswa Nature Preserve, a beautiful and rapidly changing part of the county. The property brings together history and ecological value. It’s home to a stream and mature hardwood forest, as well as the historic Thomas T. Sandifer farmhouse, where the owners live. At one time, the land was part of a 246- acre farm that extended all the way to the Catawba River, and the 1850s farmhouse has been designated by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission.

“Protecting wildlands and historic properties like ours is one of the greatest services a family can do for their community,” Eppes and Armour shared.

The North Carolina Land and Water Fund mini-grant program provided essential financial support for the transaction expenses, allowing the project to become a reality.

A Legacy That Lives Forever

As our organization works to protect open space in a region where it seemingly disappears before our eyes, these projects each demonstrate the choices landowners make to leave a legacy of conservation.

Estate gifts of all sizes continue your support for conservation, and often allow you to make a bigger impact than you may have thought possible. For more information, or to let us know you have included conservation in your estate plans, please contact us: donate@catawbalands.org or call 704-342-3330 ext. 2221.