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#Asked: What are the land conservancies near Asheville?

Pinnacle Park, Sylva. Photo: @maxwell13_

Pinnacle Park, Sylva. Photo: @maxwell13_

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One of the most incredible things about Asheville is how close we are to breathtaking beauty. National parks, freshwater streams, waterfalls, peaks… and it’s all just outside our doorstep. But have you ever found yourself wondering what measures are taken to protect WNC’s natural land, or who gets to decide what’s developed + what isn’t?

Enter land conservancies: non-profit organizations that work to permanently protect farmland, forests, rivers, streams + more with important ecological, cultural + historic value. Land conservancies work together with national + state parks to strategically build new corridors and conserved areas so future generations can enjoy the outdoors just as much as we do today.

Here in N.C., we have 24 unique land conservancies. You’ve probably heard of some of them: the Southern Appalachian Highland Conservancy, the Conservation Fund, the Blue Ridge Conservancy, and Conserving Carolina... just to name a few.

And in Western North Carolina, we also have Blue Ridge Forever, a collective of land trusts + national conservation organizations In the last five years, Blue Ridge Forever has negotiated more than 280 conservation deals that cover 31,000+ acres of land that is worth $25 million.

Here are a few recent additions to WNC’s protected lands

Meet the parks + forests that have been also recently protected – to be enjoyed by us for years + years to come. Plus, learn how to get involved in keeping the natural beauty… natural, here. ⬇️

🌿 Pinnacle Park | 912 acres

  • Negotiated by the Conservation Fund

Thanks to the Conservation Fund, 912 acres along Blackrock Creek in Jackson County has been recently added. The land will expand Pinnacle Park, Blackrock Peak, Pinnacle Bald, and Shut-in Creek.

🌿 Cascade Lake Property + Eastern Continental Divide, DuPont State Recreational Forest | 1,152 acres

  • Negotiated by the Conservation Fund + Conserving Carolina

DuPont already boasts approximately 11,00 acres, but that number has grown by leaps + bounds already this year from two separate land acquisitions: the Cascade Lake Property and property along the Eastern Continental Divide.

The Cascade Lake Property adds roughly 750 acres to the forest and was brokered by the Conservation Fund late last year. A trail is planned to connect Dupont with the property. The Eastern Continental Divide donation was announced just last week by Conserving Carolina, and will contribute 402 additional acres that protects a crucial wildlife + stream corridor.

🌿 The Yellow Spot | 234 acres

  • Negotiated by The Southern Appalachian Highland Conservancy

The Yellow Spot is a 234-acre land patch adjacent to Pisgah National Forest. The area is home to rare plant + animal habitats and clean water sources. The Yellow Spot will not be open to the public in order to maintain the best ecosystem possible.

🌿 New River State Park | 350 acres

  • Negotiated by New River Conservancy

The addition will now make it possible to take a four-night, five-day paddling trip along the river. The land also includes a natural riverfront beach, which New River Conservancy president George Santucci says is likely the “first beach in Ashe County.” Long weekend, anyone?

🌿 Chemtronics Property in Swannanoa | 526 acres

  • Negotiated by Southern Appalachian Highland Conservancy

This land plot was previously used by Tennessee-based company Chemtronics to manufacture explosives, propellants + other specialty chemicals. Chemtronics will retain ownership over the area, but has agreed to restrict what activities can and cannot take place there. SAHC will implement forest management programs to restore the health of the land after its status as a superfund site was lifted in 2016. The additional 535 acres (of 1,061 total) on the property is still a federal superfund site.

🌿 Strawberry Gap near Chimney Rock | 155 acres

  • Negotiated by Southern Appalachian Highland Conservancy

This purchase adds to a network of protected land that encompasses Hickory Nut Gap Farm + the Drovers Rd. Scenic Byway near US 74A. It will protect views from Blue Ridge Pastures, and adds to a substantial area of protected land that includes Hickory Nut Gap Farm and the Drovers Road Scenic Byway. According to SAHC, the property provides a rocky, high-elevation habitat for rare species, including bird species in the Chimney Rock/Hickory Nut Gorge Important Bird Area (like 18 species of warbler and the peregrine falcon).

🌿 Bartram Trail | 71 acres

  • Negotiated by Mainspring Conservation Trust

Bartram Trail is about four miles south of Franklin, N.C. The newly conserved area is along the west side of the Little Tennessee River, and includes about three-quarters of a mile of riverfront land. The addition will provide better public access to Bartram Trail.

Want to get involved? Here’s how.

1️⃣ Donate to your favorite local land trust. Here’s a full list.

2️⃣ Volunteer. Nonprofits always need helping hands to clean up trails, rivers + more.

3️⃣ Vote for elected officials that prioritize conservation.

4️⃣ Protect your own land. Here’s a crash course in how + why to conserve your property.

5️⃣ Go hiking. Get out there and enjoy all the good stuff that the outdoors have to offer.

I love checking out new restaurants, bars + galleries, but you gotta admit… nothing beats a day outdoors. It makes me really happy to know that there are so many orgs out there that are working hard to preserve what we love so much about Western N.C.

Have you visited any of areas protected in land trusts? Let us know your favorite by replying to this email or commenting over on Facebook or Instagram.

Stephanie

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