August 21, 2018

William H. Silver Game Land event celebrates water and wildlife protection

MAGGIE VALLEY, N.C.—Today a special event was held to celebrate the private-public partnership working to protect critical lands within the Maggie Valley watershed for wildlife and nearby communities. 

The 2,030-acre William H. Silver Game Land was established in 2017 by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) to provide much needed habitat for North Carolina’s growing elk population and other species, and to bring new economic development opportunities to Haywood County and surrounding counties. The celebration brought together state, local, federal and nonprofit partners as well as residents and former landowners to toast the progress made thus far and outline future conservation in the area.

“The Haywood County Tourism Development Authority (TDA) is appreciative of the acquisition of these lands as the preservation and sustainability of the property is vital to our local and regional economy,” said TDA Executive Director Lynn Collins. “Outdoor recreation in North Carolina generates $28 billion in consumer spending and accounts for 260,000 jobs. $1.3 billion is generated in state and local tax revenue for the state, and $8.3 billion is paid in wages and salaries. The Silver Game Land is a welcome addition to the unique outdoor recreation offerings in Haywood County for our residents and visitors alike.”

“Through the power of partnership, this project demonstrates how working together on land conservation and habitat management supports our shared values, including abundant and diverse wildlife species, while also achieving common and individual goals,” said Gordon Myers, Executive Director of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

The NCWRC worked with The Conservation Fund to acquire nine properties located adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the new Game Land. The protection of these lands will also protect water quality for Maggie Valley and nearby communities, while increasing recreational opportunities—including hiking, wildlife viewing, and trout fishing—by connecting state and federally protected lands. Additional expansion efforts are underway in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Maggie Valley Sanitary District and others.

“The Conservation Fund is grateful to the conservation-minded families, including the descendants of the Silver family, for their foresight, desire and generosity to ensure these lands are preserved for future generations,” said the Fund's North Carolina State Director Bill Holman. “We are proud to partner with the NCWRC in this significant effort to protect water quality, create new recreation opportunities, shield the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from incompatible development, and provide new opportunities to diversify and boost the economies of Maggie Valley and Haywood County.”

Funding for the conservation of these lands has been provided by the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Fred & Alice Stanback, Brad & Shelli Stanback, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pittman-Robertson / Wildlife Restoration program, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Pigeon River Fund, and Duke Energy Water Resources Fund. In addition, all of the landowners sold their properties at a discount to help facilitate this conservation effort.

“The William H. Silver Game Land not only establishes 2,030 acres of new public access in western North Carolina, but it protects important elk calving habitat outside of Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” said Steven Dobey, RMEF Conservation Program Manager for the Eastern U.S. “It also offers permanent protection to headwater streams that supply water to the nearby town of Maggie Valley.  RMEF is proud to partner on this project that creates new recreational opportunities, protects critical elk habitat, and preserves water quality in North Carolina’s elk range.”

North Carolina’s U.S. delegation representing Haywood County strongly supports this conservation and economic effort made possible with funding from the congressionally authorized Pittman-Robertson / Wildlife Restoration program.

“The Conservation Fund and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission do tremendous work in areas like Haywood County to preserve our recreational lands for future generations to enjoy—a mission that is critical for Western North Carolina’s economy and community,” said U.S. Representative Mark Meadows. “I’m proud to support them and want to thank them for their outstanding efforts.”

In addition to providing suitable habitat for elk roaming outside the National Park, the William H. Silver Game Land also protects the Hemphill Bald Trail, which runs along the Cataloochee Divide long the border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including Buck Knob, Maggot Spring Gap, Chestnut Ridge, and Sheepback Knob. It also helps protect the headwaters of Deep Gap Branch, Indian Branch and Carpenter Branch, tributaries of Jonathan Creek, which supplies drinking water to Maggie Valley.

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than eight million acres of land, including more than 230,000 acres of beloved natural lands across North Carolina at Grandfather Mountain State Park, Chimney Rock State Park, DuPont State Forest, Pisgah National Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

About the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority
Along with its picturesque beauty, Haywood County and its five towns of Maggie Valley, Waynesville, Lake Junaluska, Canton and Clyde offer year round activities and events centered around food, heritage, music, art and the outdoors. No matter what experience you choose, we guarantee you will always experience Authentic Appalachian, Pure & Simple! For more information visit www.visitncsmokies.com or contact the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority at 800-334-9036. www.VisitNCsmokies.com    

Contact
Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 | asimonelli@conservationfund.org
Lynn Collins | Haywood County Tourism Development Authority | 800-334-9036 | lynn@visitncsmokies.com
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