As its name implies, the State Forest contains the headwaters of the East Fork of the French Broad River and several 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 Conserving Carolina, we negotiated a contract to purchase 6,730 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. In September 2018, we celebrated the opening of Headwaters State Forest.

The creation of this forest was made possible with public and private funding, including $9.3 million in federal funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund 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.

Why This Project Matters

Creating a new state forest is no small feat, but we’ve risen to the challenge. Headwaters State Forest helps safeguard water quality in the headwaters of the French Broad River, which flows 218 miles from Transylvania County into Tennessee. It also provides protection for more than 60 miles of streams, nine mountain bog sites, and habitat for federally endangered plant species and other federal plant and animal species of concern, including the federally endangered rock gnome lichen and state endangered green salamander.

The French Broad River is a potential major drinking water source for several municipalities downstream from the forest including Asheville, Hendersonville, Brevard, and Mills River. The river is also a popular destination for recreation activities ranging from fishing to whitewater rafting. The citizens and the economies of western North Carolina depend upon clean and abundant water from the French Broad River.

The entire property will be managed as a working Stewardship Forest by the North Carolina Forest Service and as a game land in cooperation with the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission. Management of this property will serve as a model for multi-use natural resource management, blending sustainable forestry, wildlife conservation, habitat management, and restoration with educational and recreational opportunities for the enjoyment of all North Carolina citizens.

Our Partners and Supporters

North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services; North Carolina Forest Service; Conserving Carolina; U.S. Forest Service / Forest Legacy Program; North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund; North Carolina Natural Heritage Trust Fund; Open Space Institute; North Carolina Environmental Enhancement Grant Program; Duke Energy; New Belgium Brewery; North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service / National Wildlife Refuges; North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources; South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; Foothills Trail Conference; Trout Unlimited; Transylvania County, North Carolina; U.S. Senator Richard Burr; U.S. Senator Thom Tillis; former U.S. Senator Kay Hagan; U.S. Representative Mark Meadows; and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham

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