/ Places You Helped Protect, Trails and Recreation,

Conservation Success Stories: Best of 2019

Looking back on 2019, we have much to celebrate! We are deeply grateful to everyone who offered their gifts, time, and energy to make stories like this possible. Here (in no particular order) are 9 highlights from 2019.

1. DuPont State Forest: No More Missing Link!

Photo by Thomas Parlier

We’ve helped protect DuPont State Recreational Forest since the beginning. This year we added the 402-acre Continental Divide Tract, which connects DuPont to a vast conservation corridor that spans over 100,000 acres. We also acquired another 315 acres with the goal of adding it to DuPont.

2. Weed Patch Mountain Trail Wins National Award

View from Weed Patch Mountain Trail
Photo by Clint Calhoun.

If you’ve hiked our trails in the Hickory Nut Gorge, you’ve hiked some of the best new trails in the U.S. Last year, our Wildcat Rock Trail won a national award from the Coalition for Recreational Trails. This year, that award went to our Weed Patch Mountain Trail in Lake Lure.

3. Bearwallow Mountain Field Trips

Three girls at Bearwallow

Through school field trips to Bearwallow Mountain, kids get to play on a wide-open protected mountaintop. They love it up there—and these experiences could spark a lifelong love of nature. Last year, we supported field trips by FernLeaf Community Charter School, Edneyville Elementary, and Lake Lure Classical Academy.

4. Saluda Land Protected

View of the Green River Gorge in Saluda
View of the Green River Gorge in Saluda

Land in Saluda on the edge of the Green River Game Lands that was once targeted for a shooting range is now a protected natural area. Conserving Carolina purchased the 78-acre property on Macedonia Road this spring. Our goal is to add it to the Game Lands.

5. Restoring a Floodplain to Bring Back Muskie

Scott Loftis with a muskie he caught in the French Broad River.

An ambitious floodplain restoration on the French Broad River could help bring back muskie—our largest native fish. This project also helps all kinds of wildlife, including bees, bats, birds, ducks, turtles, salamanders, otters, foxes, and more. Plans include walking trails and a river put-in.

6. Conservation + Affordable Housing

Little White Oak Affordable Housing Plans

900 acres of the land that Conserving Carolina purchased at Little White Oak Mountain are now protected forever and open to the public—expanding the Green River Game Lands and a local park. There’s also going to be a workforce housing development, complete with conservation design.

7. Ecusta Trail Moves Forward

Ecusta Trail. Courtesy of BlueRidgeNow.com

Trail advocates have been pushing for the Ecusta Trail for over a decade—a rail trail connecting Hendersonville and Brevard. The Ecusta Trail took a huge step forward when Conserving Carolina secured a $6.4 million grant to purchase land along the 18-mile corridor. (Photo courtesy of BlueRidgeNow.com)

8. Transylvania French Broad River Stewards

Free tubing rides at RiverFest

A grassroots group that advocates for health, beauty, and economic vitality of the French Broad River in Transylvania County is now a Conserving Carolina program. We’re proud to support these volunteers as they care for the beautiful headwaters of the French Broad!

9. Hiking Challenge 5 Kicks Off

Kim Chao on Bearwallow Mountain. Photo by Bob Carlson.

Our popular Hiking Challenge is back! The goal of the WPA White Squirrel Hiking Challenge 5 is to go on 8 hikes, all on lands that Conserving Carolina helped protect. It’s a great way to get to know the places you’re conserving.

Thank You for All of Your Support!

You made these great stories happen—and so much more. As we look forward to the new year, we are deeply grateful for how much we’re able to do with your support. Have a joyful holiday season!