August 30, 2018

Headwaters State Forest to Officially Open on September 6

TRANSYLVANIA COUNTY, NC —The Conservation Fund and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are pleased to announce an event on September 6, 2018, to celebrate the opening of North Carolina’s Headwaters State Forest. Located near the border of South Carolina, this new 6,730-acre state forest was made possible with funding from the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program, through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), as well as state and private funding.

The protection of these 6,730 acres will help preserve and maintain water quality in the headwaters of the French Broad River, which flows 218 miles from Transylvania County into Tennessee. Headwaters State Forest also provides expanded opportunities for public outdoor recreation, including hiking on a section of the storied Foothills Trail. Adjacent to more than 100,000 acres of existing conservation lands in both North Carolina and South Carolina, the area provides habitat for federally endangered plant species and other federal plant and animal species of concern. In addition, a portion of the forest will serve as working forestland, ensuring that timber revenue and jobs stay in North Carolina.

“Persistence, dedication and partnership over the last nine years allowed for the vision of Headwaters State Forest to now become a reality,” said  Justin Boner, The Conservation Fund’s real estate director for North Carolina. “Headwaters State Forest is a landscape that will benefit North Carolina’s economy and environment for generations to come, and we thank U.S. Senators Burr and Tillis and U.S. Representative Meadows for their continued work to reauthorize the LWCF, our nation’s best conservation program.” 

This significant conservation effort was made possible with public and private funding, including $9.3 million in federal funding from the LWCF through the Forest Legacy Program; $14.7 million in grants from the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund, and key support from Fred and Alice Stanback. LWCF is a bipartisan, federal program that uses a percentage of proceeds from offshore oil and gas royalties—not taxpayer dollars—to acquire critical lands and protect our country’s best natural resources and recreational access for more than 50 years. LWCF will expire on September 30 unless Congress acts to reauthorize.

LWCF and the Forest Legacy Program are annually funded by the U.S. Congress, including North Carolina’s U.S. delegation representing Transylvania County: U.S. Senator Richard Burr, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis and U.S. Representative Mark Meadows.

“I’m pleased to join The Conservation Fund in celebrating the opening of North Carolina’s new Headwaters State Forest,” said U.S. Senator Richard Burr. “Located in Transylvania County, this 6,700-acre state forest will allow thousands of North Carolinians to hike, fish, and explore the French Broad River and the Foothills Trail. This project is a recipient of the Forest Legacy Program, which is funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund – America’s most successful conservation program that operates at no cost to taxpayers. Conservation efforts like this show how important it is to reauthorize the LWCF, which expires in just over one month. I will continue to work to renew this critical program so places like Headwaters can be enjoyed for generations to come.”

“The Conservation Fund does tremendous work in areas like Transylvania 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. “The opening of North Carolina’s Headwaters State Forest is a wonderful development in those efforts.”

Efforts to protect this area began in 2009, when The Conservation Fund worked with the N.C. Forest Service and Conserving Carolina to negotiate a contract to purchase the land for the State in a bargain sale from former Congressman Charles Taylor and his family.

“Conserving Carolina is excited to have played a support role in creating North Carolina’s newest state forest,” said Kieran C. Roe, Executive Director of Conserving Carolina, which worked alongside The Conservation Fund to build awareness and support from local communities about the forest. “We are grateful to N.C. Forest Service, The Conservation Fund and the Taylor family for the shared commitment to conservation that has led to establishment of Headwaters State Forest, whose land and water resources will now forever be protected to the benefit of the people of Transylvania County and beyond.”

“Protecting the Headwaters forest land is a tremendous accomplishment for our environment and state. I am proud our department is a partner in conserving and managing this valuable natural resource for generations to come,” said North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Our forests and farmlands define our state, providing not only beauty to our landscape, but providing the essentials for life.”

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 eight million acres of land, including more than 230,500 acres in North Carolina. 

Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 |