ZZT developer and Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney has reportedly paid $15 million to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to permanently protect 7,000 acres of undeveloped land in his home state of North Carolina.
This donation, earmarked as a “conservation easement” (which typically require landowners to forfeit the right to develop, subdivide, or otherwise interfere with the preservation of a natural landscape), is a nice example of how a successful member of the game industry might invest some of their wealth in a way that benefits others.
“It’s still in private ownership but the easement ensures it can never be developed,” Sweeney told The Citizen-Times. “It’s not open to anyone in the public at any time, but people can email and get a permission card and go and enjoy it.”
The region Sweeney has invested in is known as the Box Creek Wilderness; several years ago it came under threat of being subdivided to make room for the Rutherford Electric Membership Corporation to construct power lines, but Sweeney (who previously owned a smaller swath of the land) fought back in court.
This isn’t the first time he’s done this, either. Outside of his place in the game industry, Sweeney is recognized as something of a conservationist in North Carolina; the Epic Games chief reportedly began buying up land in 2008 and now owns roughly 40,000 acres in the state, some of which he has previously donated for conservation.