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Local Non-Profit ACleanWilsonCreek.org Benefits from Balsam Mountain Trust Partnership and Grant Award

Summer Interns along with the Appalachian State Biology Department staff load up to travel to the stream for sampling fish species. (Left to Right) William McMahan (driver), Andie Waugh, Carson Scott, Nick Campany, Katie Krogmeier.

Local non-profit ACleanWilsonCreek.org (ACWC) received a $1500 Grant from Balsam Mountain Trust in 2022. For five years ACWC had been addressing complex issues of overuse and user trash created along the National Wild and Scenic River – Wilson Creek – in the wilderness south of Grandfather Mountain.

The Balsam Mountain Trust, near Sylva, N.C., is a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire people to become responsible stewards of the natural and cultural resources of the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains through education and conservation leadership. The Trust provides regional environmental leadership and establishes partnerships with other conservation organizations for completion of special projects of one or more of five programmatic themes: 1) Environmental Education, 2) Experiential Opportunity, 3) Natural and Cultural Resource Stewardship, 4) Regional Environmental Leadership, and 5) Scientific Research.

Summer Interns Nick Campany (left), Andie Waugh (Center), and Carson Scott (right) present the results of their work for evaluation in Edgemont, N.C.

After completing her graduate studies in Biology, with a concentration in Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Science at Appalachian State University, Katie Krogmeier identified the Balsam Mountain Trust offerings as a natural fit for the work of the Boone, N.C.- based, ACleanWilsonCreek.org (ACWC). ACWC has addressed some high-volume trash collection challenges along the National Wild and Scenic River – Wilson Creek and has recently added a focus on educating recreational creek users on conservation ethics and behaviors. Krogmeier applied for a Balsam Mountain grant in early 2022 that was selected for funding to help ACWC move forward in this area. 

The project proposal focused on the establishment of two “conservation centers”, one upstream in Mortimer, N.C., at the National Forest Service Workstation, and the other downstream, hosted by Brown Mountain Beach (BMB) Resort. The BMB Resort is a private wedding and adventure recreation venue that partnered with ACWC to open a coffeehouse called the “Conservation Café”.

ACleanWilsonCreek.org Staff and Interns gather with National Forest Service Staff at the Conservation Cafe of Brown Mountain Beach Resort, Collettsville, N.C. (left to right: Hunter Campbell (NFS), Nick Campany (ACWC.org), Rena Pilkington (ACWC.org), Gigi Waugh (ACWC.org), James Calore (ACWC.org), Lisa Jennings (NFS) and Andie Waugh (ACWC.org).

The vision for both centers was common in purpose, but slightly different in approach. The Conservation Café would be able to provide information about the multiple organizations involved in preserving and protecting the Wilson Creek watershed — including ACleanWilsonCreek.org, Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina, Wildsouth.org, Northwest Mountain Bike Association, and the National Forest Service, The Café may serve as a meeting place and launch-training venue for future events such as river clean-ups, environmental education and outdoor recreational events for youth, etc. Balsam provided funding for conservation posters, production of a “Conservation Partners” video, and other environmental science materials that would support these goals.

The center in Mortimer will eventually be home to an updated meeting and training facility for multi-organizational use, and will house an Appalachian State University Biology supported field station for interns to conduct various biologic studies. Balsam funding allowed the purchase of naturalist and scientific field guides and conservation-themed posters.

Interns and Appalachian Biology staff prepare the electrical devices for fish sampling on Wilson Creek in Edgemont, N.C. Front row left to right: Dr. Shea and graduate student William McMahan, Back row left to right: Andie Waugh, Nick Campany, Carson Scott

Thanks to Katie Krogmeier, Appalachian State Biology professor Shea Tuberty, Kelsey and Jeremy Wallace of Brown Mountain Beach Resort, and many others who assisted in bringing this grant and partnership to fruition. Meanwhile, you can view the (public) resulting video on YouTube by searching “ACleanWilsonCreek.org Conservation Partners”. It is also linked below:

Courtesy of A Clean Wilson Creek.