In July, the Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC) and Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) jointly purchased a 179-acre property along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Ashe County. The Cranberry Creek tract shares nearly 1.2 miles of boundary with the Blue Ridge Parkway, and is considered a high priority conservation area by the National Park Service (NPS).
The property includes mixed hardwood forests and pine stands, offering scenic views from the Parkway. It adjoins the Parkway from mileposts 249.7 to 250.9, an area that contains the origin of Cranberry Creek, a tributary of Meadow Creek. The land also contains a residual wetland associated with the remnants of a pond that has been drained. The property’s unique ecological characteristics could provide habitat for the federally threatened Bog turtle, a rare species known to occur in the vicinity.
CTNC and Blue Ridge Conservancy plan to donate this land to the National Park Service for inclusion in the Parkway’s official boundary. The addition of this property to the Parkway will help increase the connectivity of protected lands in the area, benefiting the public by preserving vistas and promoting healthy waterways.
“Protecting large areas of continuous land leads to an even greater cumulative impact on wildlife habitat, water quality, and scenic vistas,” said Mark Woods, Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent. “The addition of the Cranberry Creek tract represents not only an increased area of conserved land, but a greater connectivity between parts of the Parkway.
“We are grateful to Fred and Alice Stanback of Salisbury who made it possible for this beautiful property to become part of the Blue Ridge Parkway,” said Margaret Newbold, CTNC Associate Director. “Folks will be able to enjoy the land from the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, which runs parallel to the Parkway right through the Cranberry Creek tract.”
“The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the National Park Service’s most visited places. Conserving the natural beauty of our mountains and natural resources in Ashe County will benefit the local economy,” said Walter Clark, Blue Ridge Conservancy Executive Director.
The Conservation Trust for North Carolina has now conserved 62 properties on the Blue Ridge Parkway, totaling 33,136 acres. Blue Ridge Conservancy has conserved 207 properties in Allegheny, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yancey Counties, totaling 19,150 acres.
The New River Conservancy (http://www.newriverconservancy.org), based in West Jefferson, also conserves land in Ashe County.
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