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Wildflower Preserve Protected Near Pearson’s Falls

Sweet white trillium.
Sweet white trillium. Photo by David Campbell.

Land near Pearson’s Falls in Saluda with beautiful spring wildflowers is now the Pearson Wildflower Preserve, named in honor of the late Mildred Pearson. Mildred protected the land during her lifetime with conservation easements, including one held by Conserving Carolina and one held by the North Carolina Land and Water Fund. In October, Conserving Carolina purchased the approximately 25-acre property from Mildred’s nieces, Sarah and Priscilla Pearson.  

“Mildred was one of the earliest conservation landowners. She protected her land because she loved her forest and wanted to see it protected forever,” says Conserving Carolina’s Southeast Stewardship Manager, Pam Torlina. “I’m really glad that we’ll be stewarding that land as a tribute to her and the legacy she wanted to leave behind.” 

Her neice, Sarah Pearson, says, “I know that Millie would be very pleased to know that her property is going to be preserved from now on because that is what she always wanted.” 

This purchase eliminates the remaining development potential on this special property. The preserve adjoins the popular Pearson’s Falls hiking area. It provides an important riparian buffer along the North Pacolet River and Fork Creek. The land includes rare natural communities, including rich cove forest, montane alluvial forest, and floodplain pool. Most of the property falls within a state-designated Natural Heritage Area, which is rated of “very high” importance by the N.C. Natural Heritage Program.    

North Pacolet River at Pearson Wildflower Preserve
North Pacolet River at Pearson Wildflower Preserve

In the spring, beautiful displays of wildflowers include an abundance of Solomon’s seal, May apples, and trilliums. The forest is also home to numerous wildlife species that are priorities for conservation, including Diana fritillary butterflies, wood thrush, and yellow-bellied sapsuckers. It provides habitat for deer, bear, turkey, beavers, hawks, owls, salamanders, and many other kinds of animals.  

The land adjoins the popular Pearson’s Falls hiking area, which is owned by the Tryon Garden Club. The garden club acquired the 275-acre waterfall property from Mildred’s grandfather Charles William Pearson in 1931. This beautiful waterfall is open to the public at a cost of $5 per person ($1 for children 12 and under) and it’s a destination for field trips by local schools.  

Pearson's Falls. Photo by Kevin Adams.
Pearson’s Falls. Photo by Kevin Adams.

While the wildflower preserve does not create new public access at this time, it helps to preserve the beautiful natural surroundings and intact wildlife habitat enjoyed by visitors to the waterfall. The property is also located near Conserving Carolina’s Melrose Falls property and Norman Wilder Forest. Together, these protected properties help to create an important conservation corridor along the North Pacolet River, in an area of extraordinary biodiversity.       

Conserving Carolina was able to purchase this property with support from philanthropists Fred and Alice Stanback, as well as other members and donors.  

Conserving Carolina is a local land trust that has protected approximately 46,000 acres, primarily in Henderson, Polk, Transylvania and Rutherford counties in N.C. and the Landrum, S.C. 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 

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