Nature for Everyone
In our Annual Report we honor our donors and report back on what we were able to achieve because of YOU. In our latest report, we celebrate the many ways that you helped provide more nature for everyone, through projects like the Ecusta Trail, Youngs Mountain Trail, Kings Bridge Wildlife Conservation Area, Pearson Wildflower Preserve, Las Flores, and more. Our executive director, Kieran Roe, writes:
Do you feel like your connection with nature helps you live a better life?… Think of all the gifts in your life that come from nature. Then imagine all of the lives that are changed because of the special places you are helping to protect. Imagine what that means for your community. And beyond.
2021 Conservation Highlights
Thanks to you, we have so much to celebrate from 2021! This included purchasing the Ecusta Trail corridor, opening the Youngs Mountain Trail, creating new public land along the French Broad River, and more. Which of these highlights from 2021 are you most proud of?
1. 700 Acres in Brevard Watershed Protected
Nearly 700 acres of beautiful, mature forest are now protected in the Cathey’s Creek watershed, helping ensure a clean water supply for the City of Brevard. Surrounded by Pisgah National Forest on three sides, this private forest land helps keep development from encroaching on our public lands.
2. Ecusta Trail Corridor Purchased
The dream is coming true! A subsidiary of Conserving Carolina, EcustaRails2Trail LLC, purchased the 19-mile corridor for Ecusta Trail, a new rail trail that will connect Hendersonville and Brevard. Now we’re working with the Friends of the Ecusta Trail to raise funds for trail construction.
3. Restoring Rivercane for Traditional Crafts
Rivercane is a native bamboo that was once abundant alongside rivers and creeks—but is now so scarce that traditional Cherokee basket makers and other artisans face a shortage. We’re working with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to bring back rivercane at our Mouth of Mud Creek restoration site.
4. New Wildlife Conservation Area on French Broad River
There’s a new spot for birding, fishing, and wildlife watching! The King’s Bridge Wildlife Conservation Area will also be a natural floodplain restoration, with restored wetlands and a muskie slough—similar to our Mouth of Mud Creek restoration just two miles downstream.
5. Las Flores Will Be a Place to Feel at Home
Conserving Carolina volunteers are partnering with Tierra Fértil to create a space for Hispanic community members to grow food, enjoy the outdoors, and feel at home—called Las Flores. Volunteers share stories while removing kudzu and other invasive plants to make way for gardens and natural areas.
6. Power from the Sun
We’re now using solar power at our Hendersonville office! And our solar panels are just one way we’re moving climate solutions forward. In 2021, we took steps to improve our own sustainability, voted to fully divest from fossil fuels, and endorsed nonpartisan legislation to address the climate crisis.
7. New Wildflower Preserve in Saluda
A beautiful forest full of wildflowers is now in the care of Conserving Carolina. We became owners of the 25-acre Pearson Wildflower Preserve, named in honor of the late landowner, Mildred Pearson, who conserved the land. The preserve adjoins the Pearson’s Falls hiking area and the North Pacolet River.
8. Field Trips to Bearwallow Mountain
We love seeing the joy on kids’ faces up on Bearwallow Mountain! In 2021, we supported 3 field trips to Bearwallow involving 438 kids. In all, our youth programs reached 1,421 children. We hope to connect these kids with the amazing gifts of nature and inspire them to care for the natural world.
9. Youngs Mountain Trail Opens
There’s a new link in the planned 100+ mile Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail—and it may be our most spectacular trail yet! The new Youngs Mountain Trail offers clear streams, beautiful wildflowers, dramatic rock outcrops, and amazing views over Lake Lure and the surrounding mountains.
10. Two Mountain Bogs Protected
Mountain bogs are one of our rarest and most endangered natural communities—home to carnivorous pitcher plants, spongelike mosses, and tiny bog turtles. In 2021, we expanded protected land around two bogs, in Henderson and Transylvania Counties, providing a haven for this precious biodiversity.
11. New Challenges Explore Protected Land
In 2021, we launched the 6th White Squirrel Hiking Challenge. We also launched the new Flying Squirrel Outdoor Challenge, with a flexible approach that can be tailored to your interests and abilities. Both challenges explore some of the 30 trails, greenways, and parks that Conserving Carolina helped create.
12. Bilingual Walks and Signage
Our first-ever series of bilingual walks featured a waterfall, a scavenger hunt, and a bird walk. We also added information in Spanish to our trailhead kiosks and our website. Beyond cultural differences or language barriers, we are connected by our shared love of nature.
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, Ecusta Trail donors, or Hiking Challenge or Outdoor 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!
Annual Report Archives
You can use these links to see Annual Reports from recent years: