Understand Mainspring’s mission better by reading more about our community and economic impact and questions we frequently get asked when we’re out and about.
Does conservation help the economy?
Yes! And for the same reason you probably love it here. Keeping this area beautiful attracts tourism, which brings in dollars. For example, mountain trout fishing alone brings in an estimated $175 million to the region. Research by Dr. Steve Morse, Western Carolina University Director of Hospitality and Tourism, suggests that areas that attract tourists also attract employers and their future employees.
Are conservation organizations against all development and real estate sales?
Absolutely not. Mainspring values well planned and appropriate development. We advocate against building on very steep slopes and ridgelines that create our beautiful long-range views, or building in the floodplains that are rich for farming and have cultural significance for its varied history. Many of our staff moved here from other areas and have personally invested in real estate — and everyone needs a place to live.
Is there a cost-saving benefit to conserving land?
Absolutely, especially if you consider some of the environmental impacts of traditional development: sediment runoff from roads into the clear, clean rivers; increases in water pollution from yard chemicals and septic systems; forest lands that provide fiber for our wood products; and a loss of local farms that grow the food we eat.
Doesn’t development create a larger tax base, which brings in more revenue to local governments?
Not really. A recent economic analysis shows that a typical farmland/open space parcel contributes more in property tax than it requires in expenditures for county services. Saying it another way, more houses and subdivisions means a demand for more tax-supported services: roads, fire and police protection, etc.
Does Mainspring get most of its funding through the government or grants?
More than 70% of our budget is provided through people like you – private donors and businesses that believe in saving this mountain landscape so future generations can enjoy the views and clean waters we get to benefit from each day. Government grants make up 2% of our funding, while private foundations provide approximately 28%.
Is Mainspring an advocacy group? Are you liberal or conservative?
There are very few issues in which we involve ourselves politically. We focus on land conservation, environmental education, and clean water. So while we will voice our opinion in favor of tax credits for property owners interested in easements we do not participate in other political debates. Democrats, Republicans or Independents alike can all agree on preserving water quality, forests and working farmland!