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Lands Legacy Program

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In April 2000, Orange County enacted a comprehensive program for the acquisition of protection of highly important natural and cultural resource lands entitled the “Lands Legacy Program.”

In a county that has seen its population double since 1970, thousands of acres of important resource lands have been lost to urban conversion. Fortunately, however, many important resource lands still exist in the County.

Leveraging local funds (including $10 million approved by County voters since 1997) with State and Federal dollars, and working with area conservation partners, the Lands Legacy Program has protected over 3000 acres to date – both via outright purchase and through donated or purchased conservation easements. During that timeframe Lands Legacy has received over $5 million in State and Federal grants – including grants for the Little River Regional Park (for which Orange and Durham counties were named the “Local Government Conservationists of the Year” in 2003 by the Conservation Trust for North Carolina).  In 2007 Orange County received the Excellence in County Planning Award from the National Association of County Planners, and Lands Legacy was twice runner-up for the national County Leadership in Conservation Award by the National Association of Counties and Trust for Public Land.

The Lands Legacy Program has five standing priority areas for acquisition:

  • Natural Areas and Wildlife Habitat (NC Natural Heritage sites)
  • Prime Farmlands
  • Lands of Historic, Cultural, or Archaeological Significance
  • Future Parklands
  • Watershed Riparian Buffer lands 

In addition to these categories, other opportunities that arise are also evaluated and considered for conservation value. Every two years the Board of County Commissioners adopts an “Action Plan” that contains the Lands Legacy priorities for the upcoming two fiscal years.

Lands Legacy Program document - adopted April 4, 2000

Lands Legacy Annual Action Plan 2014 - 2017

List of Completed Projects (2000 to present)

Ten-Year Retrospective of the Lands Legacy Program (December 2010)