The annual Christmas Parade in Valdese will be held tomorrow (Saturday, December 2), rain or…
Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina (FCNC) announced the transfer of 332 acres within the corridor of the National Wild and Scenic River Wilson Creek in Caldwell County to the United States Forest Service. This tract of land, which was donated to FCNC by conservationist Tim Sweeney in 2021, fills in a missing segment of protected public lands along the river, bordered on three sides by the Pisgah National Forest and adjoining the Wilson Creek Day Use Area.
The land transfer to federal ownership occurred on October 11, 2023, and forever ensures that this section of the highly significant watershed is protected, conserved and accessible for public recreation opportunities.
A grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation funded much of the transaction due diligence required by Foothills Conservancy’s national land trust accreditation requirements and the U.S. Forest Service’s federal land transaction specifications; including items such as boundary surveying and monuments, environmental site assessments, appraisals, title examination and insurance and other closing costs.
The section of Wilson Creek that runs through this property not only supports access to downstream whitewater rafting, canoeing and kayaking with challenging Class II-V rapids, but it also boasts waterfalls and contains the trailhead for the six-mile Wilson Creek Trail, which connects to other popular trails in the area.
The parcel of land now in the U.S. Forest Service’s ownership contains aquatic habitat for the brook floater, an at-risk, endangered species of freshwater river mussel. It is also home to the significantly rare Edmund’s snaketail dragonfly and the seagreen darter freshwater fish. Sightings of several vulnerable and significantly rare animal and plant species have also been recorded and documented, both on the property and within a one-mile radius.
Additionally, the improved access to both the national forest and river will allow emergency management services to conduct quicker, more direct rescue efforts in the area, especially in times of heavy recreational use, when other access points may become overcrowded with visitors.
Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina is a nationally accredited regional land trust that inspires conservation in Western North Carolina by permanently protecting land and water for the benefit of people and all living things. Information about Foothills Conservancy, including ways to support its work, can be found online at www.foothillsconservancy.org or by calling 828-437-9930.