June 10, 2013. Local nonprofit Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) added 28 critical acres to Bear Paw State Natural Area (SNA) located in Valle Crucis North Carolina. With elevations reaching 4,800 feet, Bear Paw SNA contains mature hardwood forests and the headwaters of Dutch Creek.
In May 2013, through a generous contribution from Fred and Alice Stanback, the NC Natural Heritage Trust Fund, and the NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, BRC and the state were able to purchase the 28-acre tract from David Wray of Blowing Rock. Blue Ridge Conservancy purchased over 200 acres from Wray in 2008 and 2009 to help establish Bear Paw.
“My family entrusted me to develop these 200 plus acres responsibly and preserve as much as possible in its natural state,” said Wray. “My grandfather spent his career with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh and has authored several North Carolina bird books as well as studies on microscopic insects. He was a lover of plants and animals. I am very pleased my family’s wishes and dreams have come true.”
Bear Paw State Natural Area is approximately 385 acres and does not contain public facilities at this time. However, public access areas including picnic areas, trails, and other recreational opportunities will be developed in the future. Superintendent Tracy Minton of Elk Knob State Park manages Bear Paw SNA.
“The acquisition of additional acreage at Bear Paw SNA will further protect rare flora and fauna to include the federally endangered Virginia big-eared bat,” said Superintendent Minton. “I greatly appreciate the efforts of the Wray family and Blue Ridge Conservancy in securing this precious resource for future generations.”
Providing public access to Bear Paw SNA is critical for BRC, whose mission is to permanently protect land and water resources with agricultural, ecological, cultural, recreational, and scenic value.
“Protection of this property expands Bear Paw SNA and provides a valuable public asset for outdoor recreation opportunities in the High County,” said Walter Clark, Executive Director of BRC. “Despite the economic downturn, Blue Ridge Conservancy’s success at Bear Paw leaves the organization optimistic about future of land conservation in North Carolina.”
About BRC: Blue Ridge Conservancy is a private, nonprofit, non-governmental organization incorporated in North Carolina that works with willing landowners and local communities to permanently protect land and water resources with agricultural, ecological, cultural, recreational, and scenic value. BRC has protected close to 17,000 acres in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey Counties.