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Blue Ridge Conservancy Receives $2.5M for Land Protection Projects in High Country

Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) plans to hit the ground running in 2016 with a compilation of significant land protection projects totaling over $2,500,000.

Blue Ridge ConservancyBRC is a private, non-profit organization with the mission of working with landowners and local communities to permanently protect land and water resources with agricultural, ecological, cultural, recreational and scenic value.

With the help of private partnerships, $1,500,000 in matching funds were generated to leverage three awards from Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF).  The projects funded will conserve land and expand public access opportunities in both Ashe and Watauga counties.

An additional 340 acres will be added to the existing 2,500 acre Pond Mountain Game Lands.  Pond Mountain offers one of the largest public access game land properties in northwest North Carolina including access for hiking, hunting, fishing, and cross country skiing, making it a year round destination.  It contains the headwaters of Big Laurel Creek, Little Horse Creek and Big Horse Creek which flow into the North Fork New River and are classified Outstanding Resource Waters. All of the stream sources originate on the game lands.

A $168,750 donation by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina provided matching funds for the $196,192 CWMTF grant awarded to develop the Middle Fork Greenway. The matching funds from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina will be used to purchase a 12 acre tract along approximately two-thirds of a mile of the Middle Fork of the South Fork New River, enabling an extension of the existing greenway and the connection of two pocket parks. With its wide buffer along the Middle Fork hosting rhododendron and other native plants, it is projected that this tract will house a particularly beautiful stretch of the greenway.

Another project in Watauga County will expand Tater Hill Bog by 30 acres.  The Tater Hill Bog Preserve is 900 acres of rare bog ecosystem, home to an array of endangered and threatened plant species, and contains the headwaters of Howard’s Creek, an outstanding fisheries resource.  Tater Hill Bog is identified as a top conservation priority by the Natural Heritage Program and used as an ecological research preserve.

“Blue Ridge Conservancy appreciates the support of CWMTF and our private donors,” said BRC Executive Director, Walter Clark. “Public/private partnerships like these allow BRC to protect more land and be good stewards of public dollars.”

About the Clean Water Management Trust Fund

The Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF) is a foundation established to assist conservation non-profits, local governments and state agencies for the protection of surface waters in North Carolina. Created in response to growing concerns about the rivers, streams and other surface water bodies in the state and their ability to support local economies dependent on these waters, the legislature introduced the program that would take an innovative and non-regulatory approach to the protection and restoration of the surface waters all across the state.

About Blue Ridge Conservancy

BRC is a private, non-profit, non-governmental organization incorporated in North Carolina. BRC has protected over 18,500 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. We continue to help Elk Knob State park expand its borders and established Pond Mountain Game Land in Ashe County.  More information about Blue Ridge Conservancy is available at www.blueridgeconservancy.org.