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The Sandhills Area Land Trust is a community-based, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that serves Moore, Richmond, Scotland, Hoke, Cumberland, and Harnett counties in southeastern North Carolina. SALT works with private landowners to negotiate voluntary conservation agreements (Conservation Easements) on private property. Since its founding in 1991, SALT has permanently protected more than 11,800 acres of working farms, water supplies, endangered ecosystems, and urban open-space in our six-county service region.

The North Carolina Sandhills-the Legacy of Longleaf:

"A magnificent grove of stately pines, succeeding to the expansive wild plains we had a long time traversed, had a pleasant effect, rousing the faculties of the mind, awakening the imagination by its sublimity, and arresting every active, inquisitive idea, by the variety of the scenery."
--William Bartram, Travels (1791)

SALTís service area incorporates much of the North Carolina Sandhills, a region of rolling sandy soils perched between the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain. The landscape has been radically altered since the days of William Bartram, but the region is still home to the largest contiguous stands of longleaf pine forest in North Carolina, numerous wetlands, and dozens of rare plants and animals.

Interwoven with the natural history of the Sandhills is a rich tapestry of local culture. Because the region was too sandy to farm, the first settlers drove cattle and extracted gum from the stately pines to make tar and turpentine. The early Sandhills settlers were among the first true ďtar-heelsĒ in North Carolina. Today many Sandhills residents still make a living off the land. Timber and pine straw harvesting are important economic engines for rural communities throughout the region. The recent growth of Fort Bragg Military Reservation and the resort communities of Pinehurst and Southern Pines have brought thousands of new residents to this fascinating region. With increasing pressure from residential development, we now face a grand challenge: how can we build strong, vibrant communities while protecting our precious natural legacy, local culture, clean air, and clean water?

Rising to meet this challenge, SALT fosters partnerships among landowners, local businesses, and government agencies to protect our most sensitive lands and waters.

The History of SALT


  • SALT was founded by current member Ed Vaughn and incorporated as a 501(c)(3 non-profit organization. Founding Board members included President, Joe McDonald; Vice President, J.H. Carter, III, Ph.D.; Secretary, Vince Zucchino; Treasurer, Katherine Bullock; Mac Goodwin; Marian Thompson Jones; Rick Lewis; and Albert Troutman.

  • First conservation easement at Whitehall in Southern Pines donated by David Drexel.
  • 1992

  • SALT Board initiated conversation with the Cumberland Community Foundation.

  • Board member Vince Zucchino appointed to Strategic Planning Council for Moore County.

  • SALT joins the Land Trust Alliance (LTA), a national organization of land trusts
  • 1994

  • First 99-year lease agreement at the Southern Pines K-mart, protecting over nine acres of red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) habitat.

  • Quarter interest acquired in 223 acres in northern Moore County.

  • First office opened at 225 N. Bennett Street, Southern Pines, with Nell Allen as administrator.
  • 1995

  • First SALT newsletter, annual report, and annual budget developed under Board president, Vince Zucchino.

  • Marsh Smith and Paige Burns donate 40 key acres to build a bridge for RCWs between the Sandhills Gamelands and Fort Bragg.
  • 1997

  • SALTís first grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to develop the publication, "A Landowner's Guide to Working Forests in the Sandhills." Click here to download the latest version of the guide in PDF format.

  • SALT applies for first grant from the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund.

  • SALT holds landowners seminar in Carthage.

  • First major fundraising effort.

  • Grant awarded to improve trails around Reservoir Park in Southern Pines.
  • 1998

  • Membership totals 142 families.

  • SALT assists with RCW Monitoring Project (contribution of $16,000).

  • SALT acquires 320 acres of wetlands on Little River near Lobelia in conjunction with Department of Transportation mitigation.

  • Grant Received for development of Drowning Creek watershed-protection plan.
  • 1999

  • 324 acres protected; $116,000 in grants received.

  • SALT and the Cumberland County Conservancy (CCC) become affiliated.
  • 2000

  • First easement donated to CCC along banks of the Cape Fear River.

  • SALTWorks, SALTís newsletter, gets official new look and title.

  • SALT joins the North Carolina Sandhills Conservation Partnership.
  • 2001

  • CCC merges with SALT

  • Candace Williams is hired to coordinate the Cumberland County field office.

  • SALT develops 3-year strategic plan.
  • 2002

  • SALT receives $35,000 seed grant from Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation to relocate its Southern Pines office to 140-A SW Broad Street and expand the staff.

  • SALT hires its first executive director, Dr. Richard Perritt, in July.

  • Over the next 12 months, SALT adds a part-time membership services coordinator and a full-time land steward.
  • 2003

  • SALT signs a $250,000 cooperative agreement with the US Army to create the ďHands to LandsĒ volunteer program.

  • SALT is evaluated by the Land Trust Alliance and soundly meets LTA Standards and Practices.

  • SALT signs its first contract with the NC Ecosystem Enhancement Program (EEP).

  • SALTís land protection efforts in the Drowning Creek tops 600 acres.
  • 2004

  • SALT membership grows 42% in one year.

  • SALT celebrates its 14th year by establishing largest conservation easement to date, protecting 864 acres along Drowning Creek.

  • SALT facilitates the purchase of Rhodes Pond (Cumberland County) by NC DOT, EEP and NC Wildlife Resources Commission.
  • 2005

  • Approximately 4,000 acres of land, occupying 43 sites across the Sandhills, protected.

  • Membership reaches 410 families.

  • Cumberland County field office moves to 104 Gillespie Street in downtown Fayetteville.
  • 2006

  • SALT expands its land-protection work in southern Cumberland County, facilitating the acquisition of Jessupís Mill Pond and Big Pond Bay by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, and acquiring fee simple title to the 623-acre Barra Farms Regional Mitigation Bank, a restored wetland.

  • SALT begins work to develop the 135-acre Riverbend Preserve into a public access park. Planned amenities include a canoe launch and hiking trails along the Little River.

  • SALT spearheads the fundraising drive to purchase Hobby Field, an historic 60-acre hayfield in horse country on the outskirts of Southern Pines.
  • 2007

  • Associate Director, Candace Williams, accepts the 2006 Governorís Conservation Achievement Award as NC Land Conservationist of the Year.

  • SALT hires a part-time associate land steward.

  • Virginia Moss heirs donate conservation easement on Hobby Field.
  • 2008

  • Cumberland County field office moves to 831 Arsenal Avenue in Fayetteville.

  • SALT hires full-time development director.

  • SALT hires part-time bookkeeper.