The Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC) was recently awarded a $100,000 grant from the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office Environmental Enhancement Grant Program to apply toward the remaining balance of the 1,076-acre Wildacres Retreat conservation project.
By protecting this expansive landscape from future development, the Wildacres conservation easements will offer permanent protection of extensive aquatic and forest habitats that boast a rich diversity of native plants and animals. Additionally, the conservation easements managed by CTNC, Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina, and the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, will safeguard clean drinking water for downstream residents, enhance wildlife habitat, preserve scenic vistas along the Blue Ridge Parkway, provide environmental education opportunities for retreat visitors, and ensure public access to six miles of hiking trails.
CTNC and Foothills Conservancy completed the project at Wildacres in December 2017 with funding from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the Cannon Foundation, Open Space Institute, and generous donations from Wildacres and the Blumenthal family. A low-interest loan from the Will Henry Stevens Revolving Loan Fund covered the remaining balance allowing CTNC to leverage existing funding and complete the transaction by the end of the year. The funds awarded by the Environmental Enhancement Grants Program will help replenish the fund that allows us to continue offering assistance to land trusts working to acquire future lands.
The Wildacres property lies on the Blue Ridge Escarpment in McDowell County in the upper reaches of the Catawba River basin. The property offers a unique array of natural habitats as it sprawls from the top of the escarpment at the Blue Ridge Parkway to the valley below Armstrong Creek at Highway 226 A.
This natural and scenic landscape will have a lasting impact on our environment and will be enjoyed by future generations as visitors to the retreat center, the Blue Ridge Parkway and millions of others who will enjoy the benefits of clean and safe drinking water, healthy fisheries and spiritually nourishing recreation opportunities.
Conserving the Wildacres Retreat was possible because of our strong relationships with the local land trust, a committed conservation-minded landowner, grants from our generous partners, and donations from supporters of our Blue Ridge Parkway land protection work. We have all worked together on this opportunity over a long period of time. For more information on the Wildacres Retreat conservation project, read our blog post celebrating the project completion.