On Saturday, June 3, the Mast Stores in Boone and Valle Crucis will welcome the Blue Ridge Conservancy (Valle Crucis) and the New River Conservancy (Boone) to the stores in celebration of Land Trust Day. Volunteers will answer questions about the organizations, and will offer information about the benefits of protecting land. Mast will donate 20% of the day’s sales to support conservation efforts.
The Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) permanently protects northwest North Carolina’s ridgelines, water resources and farmlands. As a private, non-profit, non-governmental organization in North Carolina, the BRC has worked to protect over 20,000 acres in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey Counties. In addition to protecting working farmland, BRC’s efforts have resulted in the creation of state natural areas like Beech Creek Bog, Bear Paw State Natural Area and Bullhead Mountain. The BRC continues to help Elk Knob State Park and Grandfather Mountain State Park expand their borders, and they led the way in establishing a 2,900-acre State Game Land preserve on Pond Mountain in Ashe County.
Most recently, the BRC has focused conservation efforts on the Middle Fork Greenway project, the Beaverdam Creek Watershed Rehabilitation project and the Peak Mountain Trail project. They continue to partner with private landowners to voluntarily protect farmland and lands with scenic and ecological value using conservation easements. Land protected by conservation easement remains in private ownership, can be sold, passed to heirs and remains on county tax rolls.
The New River Conservancy (NRC) has worked for 40 years to protect the New River by ensuring that the waters that feed it are clean. They are also concerned with protecting the land along the river because it supports plants and animal habitats. The New River flows through three states and many communities. The NRC has several priorities: to share and foster research, to educate and inspire people to act and to protect and restore the river and its tributaries. Currently, NRC is concerned about the impact of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline, coal ash disposal and Wolf Creek frack waste.
The land trust movement started in the 1970s and gained momentum in the 1980s as urban sprawl began to develop at an ever-increasing pace, overtaking open spaces and farmland. In fact, according to the Farmer’s Business Network, via USA Today, “The US Department of Agriculture estimates that 144,792 farms have disappeared across the US in the past decade.” Our land trust partners help preserve many local farms.
Land Trust Day is an important day at Mast General Store. Employees believe in the mission of BRC and the NRC and are proud to support land conservancy, clean water, and scenic beauty. Lisa Cooper, president of Mast General Store, appreciates the impact that the organizations have on the local community.
“Mast hopes that our support of Land Trust Day encourages awareness of the work of land trusts. It is not only important to our physical and mental health, but also to our economic well-being.”
A land trust can help individuals, families, businesses and communities take steps to ensure that the land is there for us, our children and our children’s children. The impact of their work can help family farms remain productive and in the family or ensure that the habitat for a rare species of plant will remain intact.
Stop by the Mast Stores in Boone and Valle Crucis on June 3 to learn more about what the Blue Ridge Conservancy and the New River Conservancy are doing in the local area and how you can get involved. For more information about Land Trust Day, visit www.MastGeneralStore.com. Visit the Blue Ridge Conservancy at www.blueridgeconservancy.org and the New River Conservancy at www.newriverconservancy.org.