History Lives in North Carolina
"One of the only ways to leave a legacy after we’re gone is to permanently protect a piece of property. Horseshoe Farm will be just the way it is now for perpetuity,” says Terry Reeves. His donation of a conservation easement to the High Country Conservancy has protected 190 acres in the mountains of western North Carolina. The easement will prevent housing development from impacting rare plant communities, fertile pasturelands and woodlands, and historical remnants as well as ridge lines with views of the highest peaks of Virginia.
Helping History to Endure
Reeves first visited western North Carolina in the 1970’s, and fell in love with the remote mountains and streams. He discovered and purchased Horseshoe Farm by piecing together three separate properties in the mid 90’s. Over the years, he has learned that history there endures into the present.
Ruins of houses and barns can be found, and old cart paths still crisscross the land. Remnants of apple orchards and an old mill just off the site hint at subsistence agriculture. The Virginia Creeper railroad was the only transportation in the late 1800’s; the railroad is now a very popular hike and bike trail. Many of his neighbors’ families moved to the area in the 1800’s to farm, raise cattle, and harvest timber. These families created a community through their churches. He also learned of the beautiful Southern Appalachian bog on his land. Because bogs have rich soil, they have historically been converted to farmland, and they are very rare.
With so much to attract people to western North Carolina, Ashe County is growing by over 10% per year. Many retirees and vacationers are building houses on top of the ridgelines. This type of development impacts water quality, habitat, farmland, scenic vistas, and historical resources. Reeves’ concerns led him to find a partner in protecting the land he loves.
He learned of the High Country Conservancy, which has been working since 1997 to protect the natural resources of Appalachia in the “high country,” a three county region in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northwestern North Carolina. Through conservation easements, charitable donations, life estates, purchases, and bargain sales, the High Country Conservancy conserves land with significant ecological, cultural, recreational, or scenic value in the North Carolina high country. The land trust has partnered with the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, which helps to fund the organization’s work to protect water quality.
Spreading the Good News about Conservation
Reeves donated a conservation easement, and the Trust Fund paid for the transaction costs, legal expenses, and stewardship endowment, ensuring that Horseshoe Farm can continue to be enjoyed as it is today. Truly, good news spreads in Ashe County. After Reeves donated a conservation easement on Horseshoe Farm, he learned that his neighbor is donating a conservation easement on over 1,000 acres of his own property. Because of residents’ love of their land, a part of North Carolina will retain its rare beauty and character forever.
by Rachel Cleaves
Photo by Robert Cherry, Trustee of High Country Conservancy