Two stray cows find their way back to the herd on farmland at the Crossnore School & Children’s Home on Jan. 9.

Nature lovers breathed a sigh of relief last week when the Piedmont Land Conservancy announced that it had raised enough money — $6.5 million — to buy a conservation easement on 92 acres of farmland owned by the Crossnore School & Children’s Home, as the Journal’s Wesley Young reported. That land, only a mile or so from downtown Winston-Salem, will now be protected from development — and will soon be made available for city residents seeking solace in the outdoors.

Though the land conservancy generally works in rural areas, this was a rare opportunity to save something a little closer to civilization. It couldn’t be passed by.

As the last few days of 2019 dwindled and funds remained below the agreed purchase price, some worried that the deal wouldn’t work out. But thanks to some community generosity and foresight, the goal was met just in time.

“A number of private individuals stepped up and really helped,” Kevin Redding, the executive director of the Piedmont Land Conservancy, told the Journal. Also stepping up was the James G. Hanes Memorial Fund, with a $250,000 donation. “It was one of the largest chunks received,” Redding said.

That’s in addition to $200,000 donated by the City of Winston-Salem and $100,000 from Forsyth County.

The conservancy is still raising money. It would like to spend an additional $1.4 million on the construction of trails and park areas, a stewardship and management fund for ongoing maintenance and other administrative costs.

Those trails would make the land accessible to the general public, especially residents of the Boston-Thurmond neighborhood, which is adjacent.

The conservancy hopes the trail can be finished over the next six to nine months, so that a public opening can take place later this year, Redding told the Journal. We’d like to be present at the ribbon-cutting.

Crossnore still owns the land and can use it generally as it sees fit. Right now its main beneficiaries, besides the children who live there, are some cows, goats, horses and a llama. “It is really up to them (Crossnore) how they want to manage the property,” Redding said. “I don’t anticipate any major changes. I anticipate them keeping the cows.”

But the land won’t be transformed into more urban blight; that’s the main benefit. This is a far better outcome than more high-end apartments or a commercial development.

Crossnore chief executive Brett Loftis said Crossnore sees the land as a beneficial presence for the children, and that Crossnore sees no changes coming because of the easement purchase by the PLC.

“It is a healing space, and we want it to continue to be that,” Loftis said. “We don’t have any other plans.”

It could be a healing space for local residents, too, who seek a little fresh air, bird song and respite from city dwelling.

We join Piedmont Land Conservancy in offering our gratitude to everyone who helped preserve this bit of nature for now and for the future.

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