New River Access Coming Near Brevard
At the annual Riverfest event in Rosman, NC on Saturday, June 18, Conserving Carolina announced the purchase of land that will provide a new, strategic public access point along the French Broad River. Called Morrow Landing, this access point will improve recreational opportunities and public safety on the river.
The 1.25-acre riverside property is an ideal location for a new river access point. It is located near the midpoint of what is currently the longest stretch between river access points in Transylvania County. Currently, people floating or paddling the French Broad River have no way to get on or off the water for 9.7 miles between Island Ford and Hap Simpson Park. For most users, this requires a trip that takes the better part of a day.
Morrow Landing will cut in half the distance downstream from Island Ford to the next access point—from 9.7 miles to 4.5 miles. This will make this section of the river more approachable to less experienced river users and those interested in a shorter, more casual trip. It also allows people to handle emergencies by getting off the river quickly or by giving emergency responders a faster way to reach them. It also improves access for volunteers who maintain the river corridor by clearing logjams and removing trash.
In addition, Morrow Landing is very convenient to the City of Brevard—only 3 miles south of town on Greenville Highway. And the shuttle from Morrow Landing to Hap Simpson Park is just 1.5 miles driving, providing a relatively simple way for people to experience the natural world of the river, close to town. It improves access to a part of the river that flows through significant private conservation lands, so people can enjoy this protected natural beauty.
Torry Nergart, Conserving Carolina’s Conservation Easement Manager, says, “This location is about as strategic as it can be, from many perspectives—public safety, equitable access, and proximity to other recreational resources. We feel this project will create lasting benefits to the community and to everyone who uses the French Broad River.”
The acquisition of Morrow Landing fulfills a key recommendation in the newly released Strategic Master Plan for the French Broad River Blueway. This master plan was a joint project of Transylvania County Tourism, Conserving Carolina, and Jennings Environmental, with the goal of enhancing the French Broad River through Transylvania as a recreational “blueway,” or river trail.
Conserving Carolina purchased Morrow Landing from the Kathleen M. Morrow Trust at the end of May. David Morrow, says, “This new French Broad River access is being developed by Conserving Carolina. My request was to have the access named in honor of my family. Their love and respect for the French Broad carried over to me and my cousins and our families.
Over the years many, many people have helped to make the river better. With annual cleanups, other river access locations (no briars or poison ivy) and county funding for tree removal, the river is better than I remember it 70 years ago. My hope is that the Morrow Landing access will make the enjoyment of the French Broad easier for everyone.”
Conserving Carolina’s executive director, Kieran Roe, says, “We want to thank the Morrow family for selling this parcel as a generous bargain sale, so we could secure the land for future public access. We are also deeply grateful to the donors who made it possible for us to seize this opportunity.”
Donors to the project include Carol Roberson and Richard Mills; Mac and Veronica Morrow; Jeff and Sarah Carter of the Rockbrook Camp for Girls; Grant and Anne Bullard of Gwynn Valley Camp; and Kevin Howell of Davidson River Outfitters.
Now that the land purchase is complete, Conserving Carolina is raising funds to develop the property, with features including parking, signage, a boat slide, and a possible picnic area. The property is currently unimproved and is not yet open to the public. Donations toward completing this river access point can be made through Conserving Carolina.
The announcement was a fitting addition to Riverfest, an annual event that celebrates the headwaters of the French Broad River and invites people—especially families and children—to connect with the river. This year, the event included a keynote address by Earl B. Hunter Jr., a Transylvania County resident and founder of Black Folks Camp Too. The festival also featured free tubing rides, a scavenger hunt, a bird walk, games, activities, food trucks, and live music. The free, fun event also coincides with the start of the annual Hellbender Canoe Relay Race.
Conserving Carolina is a local, nonprofit land trust working primarily in Henderson, Polk, Transylvania, and Rutherford Counties as well as the Landrum, SC area. The mission of Conserving Carolina is to protect, restore and inspire appreciation of the natural world. To become a member or volunteer, go to conservingcarolina.org.