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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Getting it Done- The Conservation Trust for North Carolina

Image: A view of Mount Mitchell, highest point east of the Mississippi.

With civilization encroaching on the boundaries of the Blue Ridge Parkway at an alarming rate, it is wonderful when news like this comes along!

Press Release from: The Conservation Trust for North Carolina

Little Switzerland Blue Ridge Parkway Forest and View Preserved

The Conservation Trust for North Carolina announced on March 2, 2006 that it has purchased 12.14 acres adjoining the Blue Ridge Parkway near Little Switzerland in Mitchell County. The Conservation Trust conserved the property to preserve the Blue Ridge Parkway’s natural areas and scenic views. The property is located approximately two miles from the Little Switzerland post office at milepost 332 and 333 of the Parkway.

The Conservation Trust purchased the property for $175,000 using its own funds and a generous contribution from Fred and Alice Stanback of Salisbury, NC. The Conservation Trust plans to donate the property to the National Park Service for inclusion in the Parkway’s boundary.

“The preservation of this property is important because of its border with the Blue Ridge Parkway, spectacular views of Mount Mitchell, and proximity to other protected properties in the area,” said Reid Wilson, Conservation Trust for North Carolina Executive Director. “The property had attracted interest from a number of developers, so it was critical to move quickly to conserve this forested parcel so that this stretch of the Parkway would not be marred.”

The property adjoins the Blue Ridge Parkway for approximately 1500 feet at a curve in the road. The surrounding properties are entirely wooded. The federally owned land buffer around the Parkway in this area is as little as 50 feet wide.

"We are grateful to the Conservation Trust for the acquisition of this property," said Phil Francis, Superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway. “This was another important property in the Little Switzerland area that was extremely vulnerable to development. We rely on groups like the Conservation Trust to help us preserve the spectacular views, clear mountain streams, and forests that millions of visitors drive the Parkway for every year.”

The Conservation Trust has been working for several years to preserve the Blue Ridge Parkway’s scenic views, headwaters creeks, and natural landscape around Little Switzerland. The Little Switzerland section of the Blue Ridge Parkway is part of a rapidly developing area where beautiful mountain vistas are fueling a booming vacation home market.

The Conservation Trust most recently protected 25 acres in October at milepost 335 near the Little Switzerland post office. The property was being bid on by a developer interested in subdividing it for home sites. In November, 2004, the conservation organization purchased 544 acres at Little Table Rock Mountain, between mileposts 320 and 325, and subsequently transferred the property to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission for public use. In 2001, the Conservation Trust purchased 131 acres at milepost 327 and 328, known as the Altapass Ridge, and accepted the donation of 53 acres at milepost 325. Both properties were transferred to the National Park Service. The Conservation Trust is currently working on protecting a 2,098 acre property between mileposts 335 and 331 to preserve pristine streams, healthy forests, wildlife habitat, and Parkway views.

The Conservation Trust for North Carolina is a statewide umbrella organization for North Carolina’s 23 local and regional land trusts. North Carolina’s land trusts preserve land and water resources to safeguard our way of life. Land trusts work with willing landowners in local communities to ensure that critical lands are protected for health, recreation, working farms, and tourism. Since 1991, the Conservation Trust has worked cooperatively with landowners, land trusts, and government agencies to conserve over 28,000 acres along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Conservation Trust has transferred thirteen properties along the Blue Ridge Parkway, totaling 1,668 acres (658 of which were donated), to public agencies for the public’s long-term benefit.

The Conservation Trust for North Carolina is a branch of The Nature Conservancy.

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