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Blue Ridge Conservancy : Land Donation Adds Watauga River Access in Valle Crucis

Diana Travis and MaryAnn Mueller are excited to share the wilderness of the Watauga with the world, and their donation of this land makes that possible. Photo by Leila Jackson

Thanks to a generous donation of land, Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) will soon open 8.5 acres of river access along the Watauga River in Valle Crucis, NC. MaryAnn Mueller and Diana Travis gifted 6 acres, and the Tennessee Valley Authority and Watauga Tourism Development Association funded the purchase of the other 2.5 acres. This land, located just past the N.C. 194 bridge, will have a public parking area and create easier access to the Watauga River Paddle Trail. 

“We love having wilderness near home and are excited to purchase some of that wilderness and protect it forever,” says donor Diana Travis. MaryAnn Mueller agrees, adding: “Driving by this river up on the road you don’t appreciate how beautiful it is, but now people will be able to have access and enjoy it in a variety of ways.”

“BRC continues its commitment of increasing public access to our natural resources,” stated Eric Hiegl, BRC Director of Land Protection & Stewardship. “The Watauga River Paddle Trail is an excellent example of strategic land conservation creating public places in the region.”  

The recently signed state budget includes funds to begin constructing the river access in the near future. 

BRC’s Eric Heigl, Diana Travis, and MaryAnn Mueller stand in the field that will soon be an area to access the Watauga River Paddle Trail. Photo by Leila Jackson
This map overlay shows the approximate 8.5 acre tract that will become a public river access, the 4th along the Watauga River Paddle Trail.