Conserving Carolina protected another 1,070 acres in 2018, bringing the total acreage that the land trust has helped protect to more than 45,000 acres. These protected lands are located in Henderson County, Polk County, Rutherford County, and Transylvania County, and in neighboring parts of adjoining counties in North and South Carolina.
The land trust has just released a new map of protected lands in this region. Lands that Conserving Carolina has helped protect include many of region’s most popular areas for recreation, such as DuPont State Recreational Forest, Chimney Rock State Park, Headwaters State Forest, parts of the Green River Game Lands, Bearwallow Mountain, a growing trail network in the Hickory Nut Gorge, and local greenways. In all, Conserving Carolina has helped protect 26 places that are currently open to the public, with more trails and recreation projects in the works.
Conserving Carolina has also protected tens of thousands of acres of privately owned land through conservation easements, including working farms and forests, summer camps, and educational nature preserves.
“Conserving Carolina is excited about the important land and water resources we have been able to protect, both for the health of our natural resources and the well-being of our communities,” says executive director Kieran Roe. “We feel that our conservation and community engagement programs are helping foster a love of the land in our region and bringing positive changes to people’s lives.
Where Land is Protected
Conserving Carolina was formed in 2017 by the merger of two local lands trusts—Pacolet Area Conservancy, founded in 1989, and Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, founded in 1994. Over this time, these local conservation efforts have helped to protect approximately:
- 15,000 acres in Henderson County
- 14,500 acres in Transylvania County
- 10,000 acres in Polk County
- 4,500 acres In Rutherford County
- 1,000 acres in Buncombe County
These conservation successes were made possible through the joint efforts of many partners, including landowners who protected their property; Conserving Carolina members and donors; federal, state, and local governments; and other conservation nonprofits.
In addition to the 45,000+ acres that Conserving Carolina has helped to protect, tens of thousands more acres in this region have been protected as public lands or have been protected by other conservation nonprofits.
2018 Conservation Highlights
In 2018, Conserving Carolina protected 1,070 acres, including 5.5 miles of streams. The land trust also celebrated the opening of several protected places to the public. Highlights from last year include:
New Land for DuPont State Forest: Conserving Carolina recently added a 402-acre tract to DuPont State Recreational Forest, linking the forest with a corridor of public lands spanning over 100,000 acres. This tract creates the potential to eventually link trails in DuPont to the 77-mile Foothills Trail.
Headwaters State Forest: This new state forest opened to the public in September 2018, offering 6,730-acres full of beautiful waterfalls, pristine trout streams, and rare mountain bogs. It’s 50+ miles of crystal-clear streams flow into the French Broad River.
Little White Oak Mountain: In 2018, Conserving Carolina transferred 600 acres at Little White Oak Mountain—a cherished scenic landmark—to expand the Green River Gamelands and another 300 acres for a local park behind Polk County Middle School.
Weed Patch Mountain Trail: Since opening in May 2018, this 8.6-mile trail through the Town of Lake Lure’s 1,527-acre Buffalo Creek Park has been a huge hit with hikers, mountain bikers, and rock climbers. In 2018, Conserving Carolina also protected another 442 acres adjoining the park.
New Greenways: Conserving Carolina secured funding to expand greenways in Brevard. It is also spearheading efforts to create the Mills River Valley Trail, which will create a safe route for walking and biking, connecting the heart of Mills River to the French Broad River.
Carolina Memorial Sanctuary: The first conservation burial ground in North Carolina was protected in 2018. This sanctuary in Mills River offers people a place to return their loved ones to the earth, in a forever-protected natural environment.
Mountain Bog in Flat Rock: Conserving Carolina purchased part of a mountain bog in Flat Rock, with the goal of adding it to the Mountain Bogs National Wildlife Refuge. The land trust is now helping to protect this bog on three connected properties—a haven for unique plants and animals.
Conserving Carolina is a local land trust dedicated to protecting land and water, promoting good stewardship, and creating opportunities for people to enjoy nature. Learn more and become a member at conservingcarolina.org.