Tommy Wyche Honored with National Conservation Service Award
Rand Wentwoth, Alliance president, and Frank Holleman, III. accepting the award on behalf of Tommy Wyche
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friend of the Blue Ridge Mountains
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Every year, one land conservation leader is selected to receive the Land Trust Alliance’s prestigious National Conservation Service Award for making a significant contribution to the advancement of land conservation. Mr. Tommy Wyche, Esq. an indefatigable voice for the Blue Ridge Mountains for the past 40 years, was presented with the award this year at Rally: The National Land Conservation Conference in Milwaukee, WI, on October 14, 2011.
Mr. Wyche is an extraordinary individual who has spent decades tirelessly working for the protection of 90,000 acres of the Blue Ridge Escarpment in North and South Carolina. The Cherokee call the Escarpment where the Blue Ridge Mountains come to a sudden and dramatic end and drop off 2,000 feet “The Blue Wall.” It is a wonderful showcase of cliffs, gorges and waterfalls that has been recognized as a “global hot spot” for biological diversity.
In an effort to conserve this gemstone, Wyche founded the Naturaland Trust in 1972 to spearhead the effort. From Duke Power holding 50,000 acres to the Greenville Water System holding 10,000 acres – he then worked with all the landowners in that area to protect 12,000 camp site acres. By engaging the generosity of the R.K. Mellon Foundation through a challenge grant, he challenged all the entities from the power and water companies to the states of North Carolina and South Carolina. He even hired crews of high school and college students to construct trails, engaging the next generation of conservationists. Never one to rest on his laurels, Wyche has devoted the last 10 years to protecting other important missing pieces of the Blue Wall, comprising over 25,000 acres.
An avid outdoorsman, Wyche has spent two two-week backpacking trips to Alaska, one in Kenai Peninsula, one in the Brooks Range above the Arctic Circle; he has traveled on a 320-mile canoe trip with his daughter from the Atlantic Ocean up St. Mary's River, through the Okefenokee Swamp and down the Suwanee River to the Gulf of Mexico; and has made a three-week trek in Nepal, climbing to Lake TeIIicho, one of the highest lakes in the world at 15,600 feet. His is also an accomplished engineer with three patents, has designed and sponsored one of the only suspension bridges in South Carolina constructed over Raven Cliff Falls in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness, and has authored several books, including "Conserve A Legacy: Natural Lands and Waters in South Carolina." (2009). Married, with three children, Wyche resides in Greenville, SC.
And while Mr. Wyche couldn’t be at Rally, we welcomed Frank Holleman to accept the award on his behalf.
About The Land Trust Alliance
The Alliance is a national conservation organization that works in three ways to save the places people love. First, we increase the pace of conservation, so more land and natural resources get protected. Second, we enhance the quality of conservation, so the most important lands get protected using the best practices in the business. And third, we ensure the permanence of conservation by creating the laws and resources needed to defend protected land over time. The Land Trust Alliance is based in Washington, D.C., and has several regional offices.