Rare Conservation Gem
Belying its humble name, Weed Patch Mountain north of Lake Lure in Rutherford County North Carolina, is a place of uncommon beauty and natural diversity. Not only is it home to a number of rare plant and animal species, Weed Patch Mountain harbors more than 20 miles of trout streams, breathtaking waterfalls and panoramic views, and creates an essential link to a burgeoning trail network. The 1,527-acre tract overlooks Lake Lure in Rutherford County and is one of the region’s most extraordinary natural treasures.
The land, once part of the 4,000-acre”Grey Rock at Lake Lure” residential subdivision, was owned by Land Resources and was intended for development until that company filed for bankruptcy and the land became available.
The Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy diligently pursued the purchase of the land and made the acquisition final, ensuring the permanent protection of Weed Patch Mountain’s striking ridge tops, which create the natural backdrop that is so much a part of Lake Lure. The dense hardwood forest will remain an unpaved paradise, the steams flowing to the lake will continue to run clear and the burrows, dens and nests of the natural inhabitants will not be displaced by asphalt or concrete.
The property, a state-designated Significant Natural Heritage Area, is home to rare species such as the green salamander and broadleaf tickseed. The low elevation cliff and rock outcrops on the property have been identified in the Wildlife Resource Commission’s State Wildlife Action Plan as critical habitats for several rare birds and amphibians.
“If homes were to start popping up on Weed Patch, it would not only take away a beautiful vista, but more importantly it would disturb the ground, increase muddy run-off and make it harder for water to penetrate the bedrock that refreshes Lake Lure,” said Lynn Carnes Pitts, CMLC vice president and avid Lake Lure water skier. “Conservation of Weed Patch is about clean water, healthy recreation and adding another protected emerald to the crown of conserved land near Chimney Rock State Park.”
Since purchasing the 1,568-acre World’s Edge tract in 2005, CMLC has partnered with the State of North Carolina, the Nature Conservancy and the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina to acquire the 3,000 acres that have become Chimney Rock State Park. The preservation of Weed Patch Mountain provides an extension of conservation on the north side of the Hickory Nut Gorge. In addition to its rare beauty, the tract provides an essential link for the “ Summits Trail” a network of trails envisioned by local hikers that could circumnavigate Lake Lure.
Though bought at one-third of the appraised per acre value, CMLC was short on funding for the purchase. A $1.6 million loan approved by the Conservation Trust for North Carolina, and an extraordinary pledge of $620,000 from a North Carolina philanthropist combined with additional loans from the Norcross Wildlife Foundation provided the financing.
“We simply couldn’t afford to put Weed Patch in the ‘gone forever column’” said David Efird, Lake Lure resident and CMLC trustee. “The water that comes off Weed Patch…the flow, the falls, the streams, are unduplicated in our area. Weed Patch will be huge in terms of recreation and preserved green space in the areaa win for everybody.”
Published June 2010
Photo courtesy of Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy