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Originally published: 2014-07-17 18:34:18
Last modified: 2014-07-17 18:35:00

Land trusts conserve 1,639 acres in 2013

by Anna Oakes

Three land trusts worked to conserve 1,639 acres in the High Country and Western North Carolina areas in 2013.

The Conservation Trust for North Carolina -- which works to conserve land and to provide support to other land trusts in the state -- recently published a directory of two dozen trusts in the Tar Heel State.

Blue Ridge Conservancy

Boone-based Blue Ridge Conservancy helped protect 572 acres last year, bringing its total acreage protected to 17,425 acres since 1995. Four years ago, the former Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust and High Country Conservancy merged to form the Blue Ridge Conservancy.

BRC completed 12 projects in 2013, according to its 2014 newsletter. Those include two sites near the Blue Ridge Parkway: a conservation easement on property adjacent to the old Bluffs Coffee Shop in Doughton Park, donated by John and Deborah Sherrill; and a conservation easement donated by the Blickenstaff family on forest land containing the headwater springs to Brush Creek.

BRC purchased additional 90 acres to add to the Pond Mountain Game Lands in Ashe County, which it will transfer to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission to be enjoyed by the public for hunting, hiking, bird watching and horseback riding. Fred and Alice Stanback provided funding for the purchase.

The trust spearheaded the acquisition of 28 acres of land for access to the new Bear Paw State Natural Area. Future plans for public access to the natural area are being developed by N.C. State Parks. Funding for this purchase was provided by Fred and Alice Stanback and the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund.

BRC secured a 287-acre conservation easement for the Griffith family mountain retreat in Linville and expanded existing conservation easements along the Watauga River in Valle Crucis and in Alleghany County.

Finally, Arthur and Betty Wilson donated 5.75 acres of open pastures and a historic barn in Valle Crucis to the BRC.

For more information about the Blue Ridge Conservancy, visit http://www.blueridgeconservancy.org or call (828) 264-2511.

New River Conservancy

The newly renamed New River Conservancy (formerly the National Committee for the New River) protected 205 acres in three sites in 2013, according to the land trust directory. Of those, New River Conservancy owns the title to 94 acres, and 111 acres were placed under conservation agreements.

Since forming in 1974 to halt the construction of two dams on the New River, NRC has succeeded in obtaining federal protective designations for the New River. It added land protection activities to its work in 1993, obtaining its first conservation easement that year. Since then, NRC has protected more than 5,500 acres of land important to the health and natural resources of the New River, according to its website.

The New River Conservancy is based in West Jefferson. For more information about the New River Conservancy, visit http://www.newriverconservancy.org or call (866) 481-6267.

Conservation Trust for North Carolina

The Conservation Trust for North Carolina is based in Raleigh but has a special focus on protecting lands bordering the Blue Ridge Parkway. In total, the trust has protected 31,485 acres along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
In 2013, CTNC protected 863 acres on six Blue Ridge Parkway properties, according to the trust's annual report. The largest acquisition was the 523-acre Humpback Mountain purchase in Avery and McDowell counties in November, which the trust will convey to N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission for game land.

CTNC obtained three tracts in Jackson County in the Little Tennessee River Basin, including 31 acres of the Bear Creek area; 16 acres at the Hornbuckle Valley Overlook; and 104 acres in the Open Branch area. CTNC will convey to the tracts to the National Park Service for Parkway inclusion.

CTNC also acquired 123 acres at Hi-Mountain in Jackson County and 56 acres at Pinnacle Ridge in Haywood County.

For more information, visit http://www.ctnc.org.