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Conservation easements get the green light
A view across lake eden. Tents are set up on the other side of the lake and there are mountains in the background.
The two new projects total about 366 acres. | Photo via Buncombe County
The first Open Space Bond conservation easements have come in for a landing. Buncombe County Board of Commissioners approved a budget amendment that established two areas to be protected using funds from the bond.

We’ll start with a definition. Conservation easements are legal agreements between a landowner and a land trust or government entity — in this case, Buncombe County — that permanently limit or condition the use of land in order to conserve its natural resources. The land stays in private ownership, but the conservation values (like water quality or forestry) are protected.

To be eligible for funds from the Open Space Bond, conservation easements have to meet certain criteria, like scenic or environmental importance, proximity to other easements, or being in a priority region.

Now let’s get the lay of the land.

🌳 Parham-Fortner Farm

This conservation easement, which is ~30 acres on the Farm Heritage Trail in Leicester, was purchased for $150,000. The property is an active working farm; South Turkey Creek runs through it and other easements are nearby.

🌳 Lake Eden Preserve

You might recognize this preserve as the venue for the LEAF Global Arts Festival. The County’s $250,000 bond for the ~336 acres in Swannanoa is part of a much larger project budget, which includes funds from the NC Land and Water Fund and a private donor.

Buncombe County set a goal of protecting 20% of the county by 2023 — and with these two new conservation easements, there are 83,047 acres protected and 1,049 acres remaining to reach that target.
Thursday, Feb. 8
  • The Houseplant Social | Thursday, Feb. 8 | 6-8 p.m. | B.B. Barns, 3377 Sweeten Creek Rd., Arden | $25 | Spend an evening shopping for unique + rare houseplants, mingling, and enjoying live music, desserts, discounts, and giveaways.
  • The Community Lab Showcase | Thursday, Feb. 8 | 7:30-9:30 p.m. | Misfit Improv & Acting School, 573 Fairview Rd., Unit 21A, Asheville | Free | Gather your improv group or take the stage yourself for this monthly open mic — if you don’t like the spotlight, just join the audience.
Friday, Feb. 9
  • Jamie Shriner | Friday, Feb. 9 | 7-9 p.m. | Catawba Brewing Company South Slope, 32 Banks Ave., Asheville | $15-$18 | The Chicago-based comedian will share humorous original songs about her hearing loss, mental illness, and general struggles of life.
  • Flyin’ West | Friday, Feb. 9-Sunday, Feb. 25 | Times vary | Asheville Community Theatre, 35 E. Walnut St., Asheville | $18-$30 | Don’t miss this compelling drama following four women in the 1890s in one of the all-Black towns established in the American West.
Saturday, Feb. 10
  • Valentine’s Day Market | Saturday, Feb. 10 | 12 a.m.-3 p.m. | Grove Arcade, 1 Page Ave., Asheville | Free | Find unique gifts for your Valentine, decorate a complimentary card, snack on desserts + ice cream, and listen to the live music.
  • Bike Love | Saturday, Feb. 10 | 7-11 p.m. | Highland Brewing Company, 12 Old Charlotte Hwy., Ste. 200, Asheville | $30 | Revel with the rest of the WNC cycling community during a night of music, dancing, and merriment.
Sunday, Feb. 11
Friday, March 8
  • 2024 Organic Growers School Spring Conference | Friday, March 8-Sunday, March 10 | Times vary | Mars Hill University, 100 Athletic St., Mars Hill | Choose to attend workshops from 13 different themed tracks, including Mushrooms, Herbs, Living on the Land, Gardening, Permaculture, and more.*
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News Notes
  • Don’t miss your chance to speak out. The City of Asheville has introduced a form for reporting issues with accessing or participating in public meetings — think technical glitches or difficulty hearing speakers. The new feature is intended to allow the City to address the accessibility + inclusivity of its meetings.
  • Signed, sealed, and delivered. Beginning this week, a random sampling of Buncombe County residents will receive a short community survey in their mailboxes. The answers will be used to shape local initiatives and programs and to identify other opportunities and challenges. Those who aren’t selected can keep an eye out for future engagement.
  • Celebrate a new season of TEDxAsheville as this year’s speakers step into the spotlight. The Pass the Mic Celebration & Ceremony on Saturday, March 2 will include hors d’oeuvres, drinks, talks from two TEDxAsheville 2022 speakers, and behind-the-scenes experiences of the 2024 lineup. Get your tickets.
  • It might be time for a motel makeover. The Mountaineer Inn on Tunnel Road may see a number of renovations, including a new cafe + bar, coworking space, gear rental, and outdoor deck, according to a project proposal submitted to the City by the property owner, LOGE Camps. The company intends to keep the motel’s famed sign intact. (Asheville Citizen-Times)
  • The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners approved closing funds from the CDBG Coronavirus Program, which originally awarded the County $900,000 for mortgage and utility assistance. The grant period ended in June 2023, and $404,212 in funds have not been expended, due in part to changes in guidelines for eligibility.
Featured Home
  • Crossnore Communities for Children is a North Carolina nonprofit dedicated to helping children who have experienced abuse, neglect, or other trauma reclaim, rebuild, and reimagine the essential belief in a safe, dependable home. Learn more about Crossnore’s work in the Asheville area + help support the cause.*
Try This
Date night ideas for every type of Ashevillian
Doesn’t this skyline make you feel romantic? | Photo by @drone.pilot.jay
If Valentine’s Day is approaching a little too fast and you still haven’t made a plan — we can help. This date night inspiration will carry you through the holiday and beyond.

If you love the great outdoors

For the ones who like to play games (just not with your heart)

The Buy
The Giving Heart pillow — a cream, knitted, heart-shaped pillow that’s weighted to replicate the feeling of a real hug. It’s the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for loved ones who deserve some extra coziness and care.
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The Wrap
Molly Wilson.jpeg Today’s edition by:
From the editor
Our election guide told you when, where, and how to go to the polls — but you’ll still need to decide who gets your vote. And tonight you’ve got a chance to put faces to some of the names on the ballot. Meet the local candidates and hear their positions on issues of transportation during Asheville on Bikes’ Asheville City Council Candidate Forum tonight, Thursday, Feb. 8, 6–8 p.m.
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