Foothills Trail Fully Protected Along The Blue Ridge

December 29, 2010

View from Sassafras Mountain

View from Sassafras Mountain. Photo by April Johnson.

Acquisition is First Step Toward Possible Protection of 8,000 Acres in Western North Carolina

Transylvania County, N.C. — The Conservation Fund today announced the $5.5 million purchase of a privately-owned 786-acre tract that represents the last, unprotected section of the storied Foothills Trail, which winds along the border between North and South Carolina. The support of Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, a generous donation from Fred and Alice Stanback of Salisbury and a $1 million grant from the Carolina Water Management Trust Fund helped make this project possible.

By protecting this land for the State of North Carolina to ultimately purchase and manage, a corridor of conserved land will be established stretching more than nine miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, including key headwaters of the French Broad River. The property sits adjacent to the 43,000-acre Jocassee Gorges, acquired in 1999, through the Fund, by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Preserving this property is the first phase of a potential multi-year, multi-phase effort that is contingent upon support from state and federal conservation funding programs to protect a magnificent 8,000-acre property known as the East Fork Headwaters Tract. The tract features pristine forests, waterfalls and bogs long prized by conservationists and currently owned by former Congressman Charles Taylor and his family. Protecting this entire expanse would ensure the land is publicly available for hunting, hiking and other outdoor pursuits accessible through the property’s 100 miles of trails. The Headwaters Hunting and Fishing Club currently leases the property and manages it for hunting.

“By protecting a key nine-mile stretch of Blue Ridge crest followed by the longest yet to be protected stretch of the 70-mile Foothills Trail, The Conservation Fund has focused this first phase where the general public will get the most immediate use and good,” said R. Michael Leonard, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors for The Conservation Fund. “Hikers will be out there enjoying the magnificent views along this ridge crest between now and the New Year, and I wish that I could join them. We will also be protecting pristine headwaters and rare plants and animals, but I am glad that this first step will provide immediate enjoyment to the people of North Carolina.”

“The completion of this initial Headwater acquisition is an exciting first step that conserves some of the most significant features of the larger tract,” said Kieran Roe, Executive Director of the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy. “Due to the cooperation of the Taylor family and the generosity of public and private funders, a key link in the corridor of conservation along the Blue Ridge Escarpment is now permanently protected for the benefit of North and South Carolina.”


About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect your favorite places before they become just a memory. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. Top-ranked, we have protected more than 7 million acres across America.

About The Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy

Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC), based in Hendersonville, N.C., helps landowners protect local land and water resources vital to western North Carolina’s natural heritage and quality of life. As a local nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving the region’s natural beauty, water quality, wildlife habitat, and working landscapes, CMLC has helped to create a regional network of more than 21,000 acres of protected farm, forest, park, and natural lands since 1994. CMLC offers monthly hikes and a variety of volunteer opportunities for members and the public. More information is available by calling (828) 697-5777 or on the web at www.carolinamountain.org.