/ Places You Helped Protect, Trails and Recreation, Volunteers and Events,

Best of… yes, 2020

So, it’s time for the Best of 2020. The earth didn’t get hit by a giant meteor. Also, there was no zombie apocalypse. Okay, that’s two. What else have you got?

But, in all seriousness, we have a surprisingly great “Top 10” list from 2020. How is that even possible?!

It’s only possible because of people like you. You stood by us through one heck of a rough year. As a result, in 2020, we achieved conservation successes that we’ve dreamed of and worked toward for years. Hopefully some of these conservation successes will bring beauty and joy to your life next year and for years to come.

There’s no way we could have done this without you. Here are your…

Top 10 Conservation Successes in 2020

1. New Land Added to DuPont

View of Continental Divide Tract, DuPont State Forest

You added more land to DuPont State Recreational Forest. In 2020, Conserving Carolina transferred the second phase of the 717-acre Continental Divide Tract this land to the NC Forest Service. This key tract provides the “missing link” between DuPont and a vast conservation corridor spanning over 100,000 acres! (Photo by Shannon Millsaps)

2. Comeback for a Natural Floodplain

You’re restoring life along the French Broad River! Muskie—our largest native fish—have been struggling in the river. But the ambitious restoration at the Mouth of Mud Creek brings back the kind of natural floodplain that muskie need. And it’s not just about muskie. All kinds of wildlife benefit from a healthy, natural floodplain and people do too. (Photo courtesy of NC Wildlife Resources Commission.)

3. New Trail Links Bearwallow and Wildcat Rock

Ridgeline meadow on Little Bearwallow Mountain

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 Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail. (Photo by Gordon Tutor)

4. Ecusta Trail Goes Under Contract

Ecusta Trail corridor

You’re bringing a major new rail trail to Western North Carolina! This fall, Conserving Carolina went under contract on the 19-mile Ecusta Trail corridor. The proposed 19-mile rail trail will connect Hendersonville and Brevard. The trail could bring major benefits for our local economy, health, and recreation, similar to the Virginia Creeper Trail or the Swamp Rabbit Trail! 

5. Greenway and Historic Signage in Brevard

You’re extending the Brevard bike path. A new segment will connect to the historic Rosenwald community, thanks in part to grant funding that Conserving Carolina helped secure. You’re also supporting the African-American Storyline, with signage calling attention to Rosenwald’s rich history. (Photo courtesy of Nicola Karesh) 

6. Buried Wetland Comes Back to Life

You restored a wetland that was buried under fill dirt decades ago. Amazingly, the  restoration at Carolina Memorial Sanctuary was able bring back this ecological buried treasure. Now birds, frogs, fish, salamanders, deer and more wildlife find habitat in the wetland, which is part of North Carolina’s first conservation burial ground.

7. Forest Bathing Walks Begin

You can experience the wonder of the forest in a new way through our guided forest bathing walks. Dr. Mattie Decker has started leading the walks at our beautiful Transfiguration Preserve and other protected lands. You are invited to awaken your senses, immerse yourself in the forest, and experience your deep connection with the natural world. 

8. Historic Tryon Land Protected

Roseland in Tryon

There’s a story to tell on the 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 properties we’ve helped protect—Vaughn Creek Greenway and the Screven plantation. We will work with the community on plans for this newly protected land. 

9. 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, such as food, housing, health care, and disaster response. Five AmeriCorps members supported community partners including the Veterans Healing Farm, Homeward Bound, United Way, American Red Cross, and Only Hope. 

10. First Annual Habitat at Home Photo Contest

You inspired people to restore habitat! In the spring of 2020, with many of us finding ourselves staying home, a Habitat at Home photo contest seemed like a good opportunity to call attention to the importance of habitat outside of nature preserves—at our homes. As it turned out, it was so much fun, that we’re making it an annual thing. So get wild at your place and get your camera ready. (Photo by Lauren Sheperd)

Thank you for making 2020 a great year for conservation!

You made 2020 a great year for conservation, in spite of everything! Thank you so much for your support. It truly makes all the difference!

If you want to do more for conservation, we welcome your donations and we invite you to join us as a volunteer. We wish you the very best in the coming year!