Land Use and Conservation Plan for the Stone House

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The Stone House is a property owned and maintained by the non-profit organization stone circles located in Mebane, NC. The organization’s mission is to “sustain activists and strengthen the work of justice through spiritual practice and principles.” They are committed to ensuring that their 70 acres of land benefit the local community, regional ecosystem, and the global environmental movement. The purpose of this master’s project was to create a land use and conservation plan for stone circles that incorporates the organization’s many visions for the site, as well as recommends sources of funding to reduce current management costs. To this end, the staff of stone circles helped us to identify their needs and limitations by posing questions that ultimately shaped how the plan addressed the following issues: (1) the management of onsite vegetation and wildlife habitat, (2) the expansion of organic food production, (3) the establishment of an educational trail system, (4) onsite stormwater management with particular attention toward erosion control, and (5) feasibility, costs, and funding of various management scenarios.

Several land use and funding options were explored for the stone circles property including: obtaining a conservation easement, using the back field as a wetland mitigation bank, using the field as a solar farm, leasing land for long-term residential use, leasing the field for agricultural use, and implementing the conservation and stormwater management plans that were developed. The conservation management plan involves permaculture improvements to the orchard, facilitating reforestation of the back field, installing a trail network, and the developing educational materials for onsite visitors. The recommended option for stone circles at this time is to implement the conservation and stormwater management plans. There are numerous funding streams available to assist in financing these plans, including governmental programs, grants, carbon offsets, and timber sales. A grant we have specifically applied for is the Rudolf Steiner Foundation Seed Grant. The estimated costs of the conservation management plan include:

Reforestation: $0 - $9,450 Trail: $13,500 - $99,000 (conservative estimate) Signs: $72 - $1,350

In terms of stormwater management, the estimated costs for the plan include:

Purchase of four rain barrels: $216 - $480 Installing one rain garden: $4,000 - $6,000 Improving riparian buffers: $0 - $7,600 Paving the road with a permeable grassy paver: $65,000 (paving materials alone) Implementing best management practices for the road: $10,000 (roadbed materials alone)

Total costs to implement the conservation management plan range from $72 to $109,800 and the cost of implementing the stormwater management plan range from $0 to over $79,000 depending on which portions stone circles decides to implement and at what scale.





McHugh, Maureen, Adam Spitzig and Ashley Tuggle (2011). Land Use and Conservation Plan for the Stone House. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.