You might notice some activity at the historic farm adjacent to the Original Mast General Store if you’re driving through Valle Crucis on Highway 194 South this winter.
Blue Ridge Conservancy is implementing stream restoration techniques to mitigate soil erosion and streambank degradation along Dutch Creek. The goal is to make the property more conducive for agriculture and make it safer and easier for public access. Reducing the amount of erosion and sedimentation will also protect the water quality of Dutch Creek, which feeds directly into the Watauga River.
Dutch Creek is a popular Hatchery Supported trout fishing stream and is designated Trout Waters by the NC Division of Water Resources. The creek flows from Hanging Rock Ridge through the Upper Valle, under Highway 194 South, and through the property owned by BRC. The 21-acre farm, previously owned by John and Faye Cooper, was donated to BRC in 2015.
The land is under conservation easement, and will forever remain as agriculture and recreational land. Eventually, BRC and the Valle Crucis Community Park wish to expand the walking trail loop from the park through the property, offering more river access and trails to enjoy.
BRC is working with Brushy Fork Environmental Consulting to implement the stream restoration work. Depending on the weather, the project should take a few months to complete.
“The Cooper Farm has amazing potential for hosting activities including sustainable agriculture, environmental education, and recreation,” said BRC Executive Director, Charlie Brady. “We are excited to take this first step in restoring Dutch Creek. Blue Ridge Conservancy will continue working with community members to maximize the public benefit of the property.”