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A Bold New Chapter for Land Conservation in Western North Carolina

May 10, 2010 | BRRLT | Boone, NC
A Bold New Chapter for Land Conservation in Western North Carolina

Pond Mountain, Ashe County, NC


Contact: Walter Clark, Executive Director
(336) 846-2758 |

Zachary Lesch-Huie, Communications Director
(828) 264-2511 |


A Bold New Chapter for Land Conservation in Western North Carolina

BOONE, NC -- This week, Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust (BRRLT) based in West Jefferson and High Country Conservancy (HCC) based in Boone, announced that they are joining forces creating a new organization called the new Blue Ridge Conservancy.  

According to John Turner, President of the newly combined organization, “The merger of these two highly respected groups has created an enhanced organization with the capacity to advance land preservation in our northwestern mountains to an unprecedented level. By joining forces, we have both strengthened our staff and board and also maximized our efficiency by eliminating previously duplicated administrative costs, conservancy functions, and overlapping service areas.”

Walter Clark, Blue Ridge Conservancy’s Executive Director, remarked that “Today’s challenging economic times demand that conservation organizations carefully plan how to best utilize public and private dollars to fulfill their missions.  The Board and Staff of Blue Ridge Conservancy feel that we have taken a huge positive step forward in fulfilling our stewardship responsibilities to the lands we serve and the donors who make our work possible.”

Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust was formed in 1997 out of a recognized need to protect the rapidly vanishing rural landscape and farmland in North Carolina’s seven northwestern counties – Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey. During its fourteen years,  the organization operated under the guiding principle that the “land is the stage on which we build our lives, where children  form an identity as they grow up, and a large part of what we call home. The landscape is a constant reminder of personal and community occurrences. When the land is developed beyond recognition, we lose much more than a visual amenity; we lose part of our community and ourselves.”

High Country Conservancy had its beginning in 1995 with the formation of the Watauga Land Trust. The group was formed by a group of students at Appalachian State University concerned with protecting Howard’s Knob from encroaching development. This effort raised local awareness about the unprecedented pace of development not just around Boone, but across North Carolina’s northwestern mountains. These concerns galvanized the local community and in 1997 the Watauga Land Trust changed its name to High Country Conservancy and expanded its jurisdiction to include Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties. The organization’s mission was “to protect the natural resources of Appalachia by conserving land with significant ecological, cultural, recreational, or scenic value in the North Carolina High Country.”

The merger of High Country Conservancy and Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust creates a strong organization with the collective history of protecting over 15,000 acres in northwestern North Carolina. The new Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) will partner with private landowners to voluntarily protect farmland and lands with scenic and ecological value using conservation easements. Lands protected by conservation easement remain in private ownership, can be sold, passed to heirs and remain on county tax rolls.

BRC will also continue to work closely with state, federal and private partners to expand the public’s access to land with significant recreational, cultural and ecological value. Through these partnerships, BRC has helped protect critically important area including:

  • Bear Paw State Natural Area
  • Beech Creek Bog State Natural Area
  • Bullhead Mountain State Natural Area
  • Pond Mountain Game Lands
  • Elk Knob State Park
  • Three Top Mountain Game Lands
  • Tater Hill Bog Preserve
  • Blue Ridge Parkway lands

Walter Clark noted, “The new Board and Staff are proud of our past accomplishments and look forward to continuing the great work started over fourteen years ago by HCC and BRRLT.”

Blue Ridge Conservancy will serve Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey counties and can be contacted at PO Box 568, Boone, NC 28607, 828.264.2511 in Boone or 336.846.2758 in West Jefferson, or at or

Blue Ridge Conservancy’s mission it to protect the natural and cultural resources of Appalachia by conserving land with significant agricultural, ecological, cultural, recreational or scenic value in the North Carolina High Country. To date, HRC has protected over 15,000 acres of land in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey counties. To learn more, please visit


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