Each year, we recognize our members and donors in our Annual Report and report back to you what we were able to achieve with your support. This year, we are especially grateful, because through all the tumult of 2020, you stood by us. Even when we couldn’t be together in person, we stayed connected through our love for the land. And it is hopeful to reflect that this connection to the Earth is something we all share. As our Executive Director, Kieran Roe, reflects in this year’s report,
All people need a healthy environment and a strong connection with nature in order to live our fullest lives. And when more people are living to our fullest potential, the benefits of conservation ripple out and strengthen our whole communities. To me, it is inspiring to think of conservation as not just caring for our land, water, and wildlife, but also nurturing our human potential.”
2020 Conservation Highlights
Thanks to you, we had a very strong year in 2020! This included adding land to DuPont State Recreational Forest, going under contract on the Ecusta Trail corridor, and leading numerous restoration projects along the French Broad River. We hope that these and other conservation achievements will bring more beauty, wonder, solace, joy, and discovery into your life.
1. Ecusta Trail Under Contract
You’re creating a major new rail trail! With your support, Conserving Carolina went under contract to purchase the 19-mile Ecusta Trail corridor. This rail trail will connect Hendersonville to Brevard, and it could bring major benefits for outdoor recreation, health, and local businesses.
2. Greenway Expansion and African-American Storyline
You’re extending the Brevard bike path. A new segment will connect to the Rosenwald community, thanks to funding that Conserving Carolina helped secure. You’re also supporting the African-American Storyline in this corridor, with signage and events calling attention to local Black history.
3. New Land Added to DuPont
You added more land to DuPont State Recreational Forest. In 2020, Conserving Carolina transferred the second phase of the 717-acre Continental Divide Tract to the NC Forest Service. This tract provides the “missing link” between DuPont and a conservation corridor spanning over 100,000 acres!
4. Farmland on French Broad River Protected
You protected a farm in Mills River that is home to cattle descended from the famous Biltmore Dairy herd. This 74-acre farm has rich agricultural soils, which you helped permanently protect from development! You’re also improving water quality, with plans for new fencing to keep cows out of the river.
5. Comeback at the Mouth of Mud Creek
You’re restoring life along the French Broad River! Muskie—our largest native fish—have been struggling in the river. But the 103-acre restoration at the Mouth of Mud Creek, complete with wetlands, sloughs, woods, and meadows, is bringing back a natural floodplain that muskie and other wildlife need.
6. Restoration Potential on the French Broad River
You protected land on the French Broad River that could expand a habitat corridor. The 87-acre Kings Bridge property in Mills River has potential for a natural floodplain restoration similar to the nearby Mouth of Mud Creek. And it could provide public river access, too!
7. New Trail Connects Wildcat and Bearwallow
You built a beautiful new two mile trail section that brings together 13.5 miles of Conserving Carolina trails! This new trail forms a link between the Wildcat Rock and Bearwallow Mountain Trails. It’s a key step in Conserving Carolina’s vision for the 100+ mile Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail.
8. Forest Bathing Walks Begin
You are invited to awaken your senses and experience the wonder of the forest. We’ve started offering guided forest bathing walks at our beautiful Transfiguration Preserve in Bat Cave and other protected lands. Some forest bathing events include elements like music, art, writing, or gathering edible plants.
9. New Pollinator Garden at Polk County Library
You helped create a new space for pollinators and children to thrive at the Polk County Library in Columbus. Conserving Carolina volunteers established the new garden outside the children’s area of the library, using native plants and truckloads of donated horse manure from a local farm.
10. Historic Tryon Land Protected
There’s a story to tell on 75 acres that you helped protect in East Tryon, near a historically African-American community with deep roots in Polk County. This wooded property on the North Pacolet River connects to two other places we’ve helped protect—Vaughn Creek Greenway and the Mills-Screven plantation.
11. Summer of Service Provides COVID Relief
You provided relief for people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, Conserving Carolina shifted our AmeriCorps Summer of Service to meet pressing community needs. Five AmeriCorps members supported community partners providing food, housing, health care, and disaster response.
12. First Annual Habitat at Home Photo Contest
You inspired people to restore habitat! In the spring of 2020, when we had to stay at home much of the time, a Habitat at Home photo contest seemed like a good opportunity to focus on the importance of restoring nature where we live. We received over 275 entries and decided to make it an annual event.
Recognizing Our Members, Donors, and Volunteers
In our Annual Report, we recognize all of our members and donors. We give special recognition to our Guardians of the Green business members, Summit Society major donors, and our Land Legacy League of donors who are planning a legacy gift to Conserving Carolina. In addition, we recognize all gifts made in honor or memory of a loved one. Donors who are also volunteers, conservation landowners, or Hiking Challenge completers are honored as well. Thank you for all the ways you support Conserving Carolina!
Our mission is to protect, restore, and inspire appreciation of the natural world. You make it possible. Thank you!