Asheville-Citizen Times Nov. 26, 2004

Conservation group gives state Little Table Rock Mountain

By Julie ball
STAFF WRITER

SPRUCE PINE - The state is getting more than 500 acres adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway from a conservation group that bought the land this summer.

The 544-acre parcel known as Little Table Rock Mountain is near the juncture of McDowell, Mitchell and Avery counties.

Using both private and public money, the Conservation Trust for North Carolina bought the land after being outbid by a timber company for an adjoining tract, said Reid Wilson, executive director of the trust.

The purchase will help protect parkway views, something that's become more of an issue as development along the scenic highway increases. A study released earlier this year showed scenery - some of which includes views of private land open to development - is the biggest attraction for the millions who travel the parkway.

"It's not only that the property is alongside the Blue Ridge Parkway, but also there are high quality headwater creeks on the property," Wilson said.

This month, the group turned the land over to the state Wildlife Resources Commission to be added to state game lands. The state game land program includes about 2 million acres. That includes some federal lands that are part of the program.

Jim Borawa, watershed enhancement program supervisor for the commission, said the land will become part of the Pisgah game lands. Hunting and fishing will be allowed on the tract for those with state-issued game land permits.

Borawa said the tract is a high-elevation property that is relatively unspoiled.

"By giving it that protection, it will basically eliminate the possibility that that land will be developed in the future," he said.

The trust bought the land for more than $1.6 million using money from the state Ecosystem Enhancement Program and private dollars put up by Fred and Alice Stanback of Salisbury, who have helped fund a number of conservation projects in Western North Carolina.

Part of the property looks onto Mount Mitchell and Table Rock Mountain.

"That's a section of the parkway that is still very, very scenic," said Blue Ridge Parkway spokesman Phil Noblitt. "Anytime we can protect a view in an area like that we are delighted."

Contact Ball at 232-5851 or JBall@CITIZEN-TIMES.com.

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