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Preserving Cedar Cliffs at Twin Bridges: A Call to Action for Conservation

Ridgeline view from Cedar Cliffs
Cedar Cliffs at Twin Bridges. Photos by Gordon Tutor.

Conservation is a commitment to protect our wild flora and fauna from extinction, preserve habitats, and safeguard biodiversity. At the heart of Polk County, along the scenic North Carolina Highway 176, lies an opportunity for us to advance these ideals through the Cedar Cliffs at Twin Bridges project. This 192-acre expanse represents a missing piece in the conservation puzzle of the North Pacolet River Valley. With your support, we can ensure its lasting preservation. But we need to act quickly. Please make a gift by February 1 to ensure that we can save this gem of a property!   

Update 1/18/24: We have met our initial fundraising goal of $100,000! Thanks to the incredible generosity of our community, we now plan to move forward on closing on this property in February. Thank you to everyone who donated! Further gifts are welcome as they help us demonstrate strong local support so we have a better chance of success on our next fundraising goal, a NC Land and Water Fund grant. 

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The Conservation Gem Unveiled

Cedar Cliffs at Twin Bridges is located near other cherished protected areas along the North Pacolet River. This makes it an ideal candidate for continued conservation efforts. The property is made up of two parcels. The larger parcel is 162-acres and lies north of Highway 176. The smaller parcel is located south of the Saluda Grade rail line. This property holds the key to expanding wildlife corridors, preventing erosion, and controlling invasive species, particularly the notorious kudzu. 

Map of conserved land around Cedar Cliffs at Twin Bridges.
Conserved land around Cedar Cliffs at Twin Bridges

Connections to Melrose Falls and Norman Wilder Forest

The larger section is located across the highway from Melrose Falls Preserve. This preserve is known by many locals and nature enthusiasts for its exquisite waterfall vistas and breathtaking displays of sweet white trillium in the spring. Norman Wilder Forest, a popular hiking destination, touches this property to the East. Folks come to see its cliffs, drip falls, and wildflowers. By linking these two preserves, it bridges a gap in a vital conservation corridor. 

Trillium at Melrose Falls
Trillium display at adjacent Melrose Falls. Photo by Gordon Tutor.

Wildlife, Wildflowers, and Rare Plants

The NC Natural Heritage Program deemed a large part of the property “very high” in conservation value. This is because of its rich diversity of plants and animals. In fact, several rare plants and animals occur here. Chief amongst them is and endemic species called the French Broad Heartleaf (Hexastylis rhombiformis). This heartleaf is a species that is endemic to the southern Blue Ridge in North and South Carolina. Along with these unique beauties, this preserve would protect more land for this region’s legendary spring wildflowers.

A rare insect found here is called the Mottled Duskywing butterfly (Erynnis martialis) and is another important reason to conserve this land. 

  • French Broad Heartleaf
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  • 66FF1751-8802-4380-BA4F-3AC29055C50F
  • 304EEE77-46AA-45F1-B5CC-97FC46884FDD
  • CC2F443A-040D-4822-A3CC-8D3034E5BF9F

 

A Key Point on the Saluda Grade Trail

On the Southern frontier of Cedar Cliffs, a separate 30-acre parcel has its own important story. This portion lies adjacent to the Saluda Grade rail corridor. It aligns with Conserving Carolina’s visionary endeavor to craft a 31-mile recreational trail from Inman, SC to Zirconia, NC. You can read more about this recreational haven here. Keep in mind that this section of the Cedar Cliffs property could be an important access point to the trail. To the south, this smaller portion of the property links arms with a 500-acre corridor. This corridor features lands preserved by the NC Plant Conservation Program and the Town of Tryon. 

A Long-held Priority for PAC

Conserving Carolina’s roots run deep. In 2017, the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy and the Pacolet Area Conservancy merged. Each land trust historically focused on their own regions of the Carolinas. The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) focused on the Southeastern portion of our current region. And now that we are merged, this is why we have a significant focus within Polk County.  

Prior to the merger, Cedar Cliffs at Twin Bridges was a conservation priority for PAC. Yet past efforts to secure a conservation agreement proved elusive. Fortunately, Conserving Carolina is now under contract on this property. We are poised to fulfill this historical commitment and conserve the land forever. 

Rock face at Cedar Cliffs.
Rock face at Cedar Cliffs at Twin Bridges. Photo by Gordon Tutor.

Conservation Value: Public Benefit

Conserving Cedar Cliffs at Twin Bridges will enhance our community in many different ways. The acquisition will preserve natural ecosystems, safeguard the headwaters of the North Pacolet River, and enhance the visual splendor along scenic byways. The project also buffers over eight headwaters streams. The protection of those streams will ensure the integrity of this vital water source for both human and wildlife communities.    

Photo of the North Pacolet River.
North Pacolet River

The acquisition creates opportunities for the expansion and enrichment of local recreational resources. Integration is possible with nearby treasures like the Norman Wilder Forest, Melrose Falls Preserve, and the Saluda Grade Trail.   

Additionally, this property would give us an important opportunity to control kudzu. Kudzu plays a starring role along this property’s Highway 176 boarder. This invasive species was planted in the South during the 1930’s in a misguided attempt to prevent erosion. Kudzu has been destroying the natural beauty of the gorge for over a century. It suffocates biodiversity as it spreads, but this project is our chance to turn back time. Conserving Carolina will be allocating many resources and expertise to kudzu’s eradication as a part of this project. You can read more about our kudzu eradication successes here. 

Funding Summary

To make this vision a reality, we need your support. The total project cost is $980,000, with land purchase accounting for $840,000. Additional expenses cover project costs, transaction costs, and land stewardship and management (especially for the extensive kudzu removal effort). Funding sources include the Polk County Community Foundation, Fred and Alice Stanback, NC State Land and Water Fund (to be applied for in later 2024), and crucially, community support from conservationists like you.  

Expenses for Cedar Cliffs project.

Your contribution is an investment in the vitality of our local environment. Time is of the essence. We aim to secure $100,000 in community support by the project’s closing in February 2024. Your involvement is pivotal in ensuring conservation wins.   

Income needed for Cedar Cliffs.

 

Be an Author of Conservation

This call to action transcends a mere financial contribution. It is an invitation to be authors of conservation, crafting a narrative that spans generations. Your support ensures the resilience of nature’s delicate tapestry. It protects it against the encroachments of time and development.  

By lending your support to the acquisition and preservation of Cedar Cliffs at Twin Bridges, you become a guardian of nature. You are protecting intact natural communities that serve as sanctuaries for rare plant and animal species. Preserving the headwaters of the North Pacolet River is a commitment to sustaining the lifeblood of our region. 

Your Invitation to Contribute

We ask that you thoughtfully consider a meaningful gift by February 1, 2024, to ensure Cedar Cliffs at Twin Bridges remains wild. Conservation philanthropy embodies a symbiotic relationship. Your contribution not only helps save nature, but it also protects the places that matter deeply in your own life. We welcome continuing conversations and invite you to reach out with any questions. 

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Fall foliage at Cedar Cliffs at Twin Bridges.
Fall foliage at Cedar Cliffs at Twin Bridges. Photo by Gordon Tutor.

Thank you for your profound consideration. Together, let’s ensure Cedar Cliffs at Twin Bridges remains a wild and cherished haven for generations to come.  

Act Now to Save Cedar Cliffs at Twin Bridges

You can donate online or by mail. However you make your gift, we are deeply grateful!

Online: Go here to donate online.

By mail: Send your check to Conserving Carolina with “Cedar Cliffs” in the memo line. Mail checks to:

Conserving Carolina
847 Case Street
Hendersonville, NC 28792

If you would like to speak to a member of Conserving Carolina to determine the best way to make your gift, please contact Sierra Hoisington at [email protected] or call (828) 697-5777 ext. 220.

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