Boone Mountain Times Apr. 13, 2006

N.C. land trusts protect record number of acres in 2005


Drinking Water, Wildlife, Farms And Scenic Landscapes Protected

Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust, High Country Conservancy and National Committee
for the New River along with 21 other North Carolina land trusts, today
announced record-breaking land protection numbers for 2005 - 33,796 acres in
160 locations. Local land trusts across North Carolina made last year the
most successful year ever for land and water conservation.

“Protecting more than 30,000 acres is a phenomenal feat - one that would not
have been possible without the collective efforts of land trusts across the
state,” said Reid Wilson, executive director of the Conservation Trust for
North Carolina, a statewide service provider to the local organizations.
“But this is more than just a tally of acreage; each stretch of land
protected plays a vital role in preserving our way of life as North
Carolinians.”

Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust (BRRLT), High Country Conservancy (HCC) and
National Committee for the New River (NCNR) are land trusts working in
Northwestern North Carolina. BRRLT Executive Director James Coman said “In
2005, Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust completed five protection projects
totaling 452 acres. Two of these farms were in Alleghany County, and one
each in Wilkes, Watauga, and Yancey counties. It has been gratifying to work
with such motivated landowners in arranging the long-term protection of
their properties.”

Currently, Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust is working on the protection through
conservation easement or purchase of nineteen separate properties totaling
no less than 5,060 acres throughout our service area. At this time 13 of
these projects are fully funded, and we expect that most should be completed
by mid-year of 2007.

Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust works to “ Preserve Rural Communities and
Culture in Northwestern North Carolina through the Protection of the Land
Resource Upon Which They Depend”. BRRLT is a private, non-governmental,
non-profit corporation whose mission is to assist landowners in the
protection of their property, primarily through conservation easements.
BRRLT practices grass-roots conservation, being primarily landowner driven
in its approach to land protection. Since it’s founding in 1997, BRRLT has
protected over 5,500 acres in Ashe, Alleghany, Avery, Wilkes, Mitchell,
Yancey and Watauga counties.

For more information about Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust, conservation
easements, and rural land preservation in northwestern North Carolina,
contact Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust, P.O. Box 2557, Boone, N.C. 28607, or at
336-359-2909, or info@brrlt.org, or visit the web-site at www.brrlt.org.

High Country Conservancy (HCC) protected a total of 510 acres in Ashe, Avery
and Watauga counties in 2005 including a land protection project
encompassing 232 acres in the Valle Crucis community. This conservation
easement includes:

199 acres owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina, operated
by the Valle Crucis Conference Center and an adjacent 33-acre tract owned by
Ernest and Margaret Caudill. Together, these two easements protect 11,468
linear feet of Craborchard Creek including a minimum 300-foot riparian
buffer along both sides of the creek. This project protects water quality,
steep, forested hillsides, rock outcroppings, patches of old-growth forest,
as well as rare plant and wildlife communities. “Thanks to the Caudill’s,
Tom Eshelman and the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina, the Board
of Directors of the Valle Crucis Conference Center and the NC Clean Water
Management Trust Fund, we have preserved a tract of land that is one of the
outstanding sites in N.C.,” said Christina Howe, Board President of High
Country Conservancy. “We, at HCC, are very proud of this accomplishment and
hope to continue this legacy.”

High Country Conservancy is a non-profit land trust working to “protect the
natural resources of Appalachia by conserving land with significant
ecological, cultural, recreational and scenic values in the North Carolina
High Country.” Since 1997, HCC has worked with landowners on a voluntary
basis to protect 1,583 acres of land in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties.

For more information on High Country Conservancy, contact them at 577-5
George Wilson Rd., Boone, NC 28607, (828) 264-2511,
info@highcountryconservancy.org or visit the website at
www.highcountryconservancy.org.

The National Committee for the New River (NCNR) protected 235 acres
including almost 2 miles of riverfront and 1 mile of tributary throughout
the New River Basin. NCNR also placed an option to purchase on 650 acres
along the South Fork New River.

With funding from the Ecosystem Enhancement Program, NCNR completed a
conservation easement on a portion of the Elk Shoals Methodist Camp along
the South Fork New River in Ashe County. The funding purchased the riparian
buffer while the camp donated the upland. George Santucci, NCNR’s Executive
Director, stated, “The conservation easement preserves 1.25 miles of
riverfront and the federally threatened Virginia Spiraea. I would like to
thank the camp for preserving this beautiful riverfront.” The camp will be
able to hike and conduct educational activities in the easement area but not
timber or build structures.

The National Committee for the New River is dedicated to “preserving and
enhancing the unique natural and cultural characteristics of the New River
and its watershed.” NCNR completes its mission through four program areas;
Land Protection, River Restoration, Advocacy and Education and Outreach.

For more information about the National Committee for the New River contact
them at 336-246-4871 or email info@ncnr.org. The website is www.ncnr.org.