June 2, 2014. The Mast General Store celebrates Land Trust Day with the Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) and the National Committee for the New River on Saturday, June 7. Recognized for the twelfth year at Mast Store, Land Trust Day is a friend-raising event encouraging new memberships in local land trusts, as well as an educational opportunity to learn how these groups are preserving our land heritage.
Over the last 20 years, the Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) has permanently protected 16,000 acres of land in 180 places throughout northwestern North Carolina. BRC partners with private farmland owners to voluntarily protect working farms. By annually monitoring 130 conservation easements, BRC allows farmers to continue working their land while ensuring it remains farmland forever. These farms remain in private ownership, can be sold, passed to heirs and remain on county tax rolls.
Two major projects that the BRC tackled this year include adding 28 acres to the Bear Paw State Natural Area in Valle Crucis. Created in 2008, the state natural area now boasts 355 acres including the 28-acre parcel added this year. THis new property was the missing link to provide the public with parking and access to future hiking trails. Also in 2013, the BRC also added 2,400 acres of game land to Pound Mountain, located in the northwest corner of North Carolina.
Since its inception in 1974, the National Committee for the New River (NCNR) has worked to protect the land critical for preserving important wildlife habitat, rare and endangered species, cornerstones of biodiversity and working farmland along the New River and its tributaries. The NCNR works in North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia’s New River watershed and has protected more than 7,500 acres of land important to the New River’s water quality scenic and natural values.
One of NCNR’s biggest focuses this past year was the stream restoration along Hodges Creek at the Emergency & Pet Care Clinic of the High Country along N.C. 105. Using funds from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF) to help supplement the project cost, NCNR worked with Brushy Fork Environmental Consulting to restore a highly-eroded 300-foot section of the creek. Due to much higher than average rains the High Country experienced last year, the creek had eroded nearly 20-25 feet of its bank and was threatening the animal hospital building. After the creek bank was stabilized and restored to a more natural slope, the area was further stabilized with vegetation including silky dogwood, silky willow, elderberry and ninebark and alder.
Representatives from the Blue Ridge Conservancy will be on hand at the Original Mast Store and Annex in Valle Crucis and representatives from the National Committee for the New River will be at the Mast Store in Boone on Saturday, June 7 to share with guests the activities they are undertaking to conserve the open spaces in the region. The Mast Store will donate 20 percent of sales on that Saturday to the Blue Ridge Conservancy and the National Committee for the New River.