As its name implies, it contains the headwaters of the east fork of the French Broad River, which creates some of the picturesque waterfalls Transylvania County is known for. The storied Foothills Trail runs through the property, offering some of the best recreational opportunities in the region.

Creating a New State Forest

In 2010, in partnership with the North Carolina Forest Service and the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, we negotiated a contract to purchase 8,000 acres in a bargain sale from former Congressman Charles Taylor and his family. We helped jump start the project by purchasing the first tract, a critical 786-acre parcel to save the last unprotected part of the Foothills National Recreational Trail corridor that connects Table Rock and Oconee State Parks and borders Greenville’s water supply watershed. As funding becomes available, we’re facilitating the acquisition of additional tracts within the project area for permanent preservation.

In 2013, the future Headwaters State Forest made great strides with the preservation of more than 1/3 of the project area. The project received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program for the state’s purchase of 711 acres. That funding was matched by $5.4 million in private and state funding to protect an additional 1,186 acres. Combined with the state’s two additional acquisitions earlier in the year, a total of more than 3,200 acres of the East Fork Headwaters were conserved.

The Headwaters project is poised to make additional acquisitions in 2014. In mid-December, the project was awarded a $2.75 million grant from the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund to purchase an additional 687 acres. The partners are also seeking additional funding from the Forest Legacy Program.

Why This Project Matters

Creating a new state forest is no small feat, but we’ve risen to the challenge. When preserved in its entirety, the future Headwaters State Forest will expand opportunities for public outdoor recreation by offering more than 50 miles of multiple-use trails. It will be managed jointly by the North Carolina Forest Service as a working forest, allowing it to continue to contribute to the commercial timber base, and by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission as a state game land for game and non-game species.

Our Partners and Supporters

North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services; North Carolina Forest Service; U.S. Forest Service Forest Legacy Program; Tennessee Valley Authority; North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund; North Carolina Heritage Trust Fund; U.S. Senator Richard Burr; U.S. Senator Kay Hagan; U.S. Representative Mark Meadows; U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service / National Wildlife Refuges; North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; North Carolina Department of Environment & Natural Resources; South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy; Foothills Trail Conference; Trout Unlimited; and Transylvania County, North Carolina.

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