Blue Ridge Conservancy has permanently protected 20,008 acres of land in 221 places throughout northwestern NC. 13,455 acres are protected by conservation easement in 142 places and 6,553 acres are protected by fee simple acquisition in 79 places.
Blue Ridge Conservancy works in seven counties in northwest North Carolina.
BRC focuses on conserving land in northwest North Carolina with significant agricultural, ecological, cultural, recreational or scenic value.
The following properties are examples of our many successful conservation projects, divided as they relate to BRC’s overall mission. You will see examples of our many protected farms, state parks, natural areas, culturally significant properties, and properties that have been protected specifically for their scenic value.
Protecting Farms and Agriculture
Ashe County, 369 Acres
Permanently protected by a BRC conservation easement, this historic farm includes forests, pasture, and two farm houses built in the 1880s. The property hosts the Appalachian State University Sustainable Development Program’s teaching and research farm This created an exciting opportunity for BRC to work closely with ASU to help draw the connection between land conservation, education, local food and agriculture.
Huber Family Farm
Alleghany County, 189 acres
Often referred to as “The Little Farm,” the Huber Family Farm is a model for agricultural conservation and restoration activities. With support from the National Resources Conservation Service, the farm’s owner is leading the way in restoring the banks of Brush Creek and Little Pine Creek. Also, by instituting agricultural Best Management Practices such as fencing cattle and horses from the streams and installing livestock watering wells, the farm’s owner is protecting water quality for future generations.
Robinson Family Farm
Ashe County, 55 acres
BRC’s conservation of this historic family farm protects valuable farmland, streams and a biologically significant wetland seep. Protection of the farm was made possible with help from the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund and the Helen M. Clabough Foundation. The property is currently used for growing hay and grazing cattle.
Long Ridge Farms
Watauga County, 130 acres
This family-owned Christmas tree farm is situated above the Watauga River near historic Valle Crucis. BRC’s conservation easement protects a thriving farm, along with excellent plant and wildlife habitat.
Protecting Ecology and Habitat
Beech Creek Bog State Natural Area
Watauga County, 130 acres
BRC led the way in protecting this Significant Natural Heritage Area. Created in 2002, the bog represents the first example of a southern Appalachian bog in the N.C. State Parks system. Unlike northern bogs of glacial origin, southern Appalachian bogs form in poorly drained depressions or on gentle slopes. Beech Creek Bog is noteworthy because both the bog and the surrounding watershed show very little disturbance and contain natural communities of excellent quality. Sitting at an elevation of 4,550 feet, this nationally significant natural area supports a large population of the rare bog clubmoss as well as other unusual species.
Bear Paw State Natural Area
Watauga County, 385 acres
BRC led the land acquisition effort and partnered with the State of N.C. to create the new Bear Paw State Natural Area. Managed by State Parks, Bear Paw is located on Hanging Rock Ridge, a Significant Natural Heritage Area. Important natural communities with rare and threatened plant species are located within this nationally significant area.
Pond Mountain Game Land
Ashe County, 2,900 acres
Named by Thomas Jefferson’s father while surveying the Virginia-North Carolina border, Pond Mountain received its name from the unusual natural ponds that dotted its high ridge. BRC led the way in protecting this ecologically and culturally significant area perched at an elevation of 5,000 feet. Currently under Christmas tree cultivation, the project offers major environmental benefits by presenting an opportunity to restore a high mountain habitat to a thriving natural area. Pond Mountain also connects with the Cherokee National Forest which adds to a large contiguous area important for wildlife habitat. Finally, the property contains the headwaters for Big Laurel Creek, Big Horse Creek and Little Horse Creek, enhancing and protecting local and regional water quality. Beyond ecological benefits, the area will offer passive recreational opportunities such as horseback riding and hiking.
Moses Cone Old Growth Forest
Watauga County, 60 acres
Part of a Significant Natural Heritage Area, this tract adjoins the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Moses Cone Memorial Park. Through two land conservation projects, BRC has protected old-growth forest, wildlife habitat and headwater tributaries for the New River. In 2008, BRC donated a 21-acre portion of these protected lands to the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Avery County, 100 acres
Through a donated conservation easement, this BRC project protects a globally imperiled Southern Appalachian bog containing rare plant and animal species. The project also protects the water quality of the North Toe River, a water supply for the mountain community of Spruce Pine.
Avery County, 518 acres
Located on the southwestern slope of Sugar Mountain in Avery County, Camp Lutherock is now permanently protected after a decade long collaborative effort between BRC, the NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund, and NovusWay Ministries. It is considered a Significant Natural Area by the NC Natural Heritage Program due to its unique ecological character. The camp hosts two endangered ecosystems, three endangered species, and numerous other rare species and high quality forests. It also contains headwater streams for the North Toe River and Sugar Creek, which provide excellent water resources and rich habitats for aquatic life. Camp Lutherock uses the land for recreation including hiking, an advanced high ropes course, rock climbing, disc golf, and other camp activities, meetings, and conferences. The project was funded by a grant awarded by Clean Water Management Trust Fund and a generous donation from Fred and Alice Stanback.
Grandfather Mountain State Park
Watauga County, 212 acres
BRC acquired two of the remaining three parcels needed to “finish” Grandfather Mountain State Park. The land is located high on the northeast end of the mountain bordering Grandfather Mountain State Park and Julian Price Memorial Park. The Grandfather Mountain State Natural Area is globally significant, home to a diverse array of threatened and endangered plant and animal species. Trailing Wolfsbane, Roan Mountain Bluet and Heller’s Blazing Star are just a few of the significant plant species found on the property. BRC will transfer the property to be included in Grandfather Mountain State Park.
Protecting Cultural Heritage
Wilkes County, 317 acres
Home of the historic Whippoorwill Village and Academy, this beautiful 331-acre farm has been in the same family for over 200 years. Rich with culture and history, the property contains a portion of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, as well as 1.5 miles of frontage on both the Yadkin River and the Upper Yadkin Way Scenic Byway. The farm hosts a variety of historical attractions including a farmhouse built in 1877, a collection of late 19th century buildings open to the public as Whippoorwill Academy and the Tom Dooley Museum. The farm also hosts the annual Daniel Boone Day. BRC led the protection of the Whippoorwill Village and the historic farm under a grant from the N.C. Scenic Byways Lands Conservation Initiative, and in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration and the Conservation Trust for N.C.
Old Orchard Creek Farm
Ashe County, 87 acres
Old Orchard Creek is a historic, artisanal Appalachian blueberry and apple farm. This beautiful cove farm is on the National Register of Historic Places and is protected by a conservation easement donated to BRC. The farm is home to a restored 1880s farmhouse and numerous historic farm buildings. Old Orchard Creek was protected in partnership with the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and is a model for agricultural Best Management Practices. In 2010, the farm received an award from Preservation North Carolina for landscape protection.
Watauga County, 1,100 acres
From the Mast General Store to the Valle Country Fair, Valle Crucis is an area rich with history and culture—so rich that North Carolina deemed the entire community the state’s first “Rural Historic District.” The area contains multi-generational family farms and National Register of Historic Places’ sites like the Valle Crucis Episcopal Mission, Mast Store and Mast Farm Inn. It’s also an area rich in biological diversity, with four places of significant natural heritage, including Bear Paw State Natural Area. Protecting the natural and cultural heritage of Valle Crucis remains a top priority for BRC.
Protecting and Creating Recreational Opportunities
YMCA Camp Harrison
Wilkes County, 712 acres
Thanks to a BRC conservation easement protecting 712 acres in the Brushy Mountains, children from across North Carolina can continue to renew their connection with the outdoors at Camp Harrison, a YMCA summer camp. With no state parks, game lands or other large protected tracts in the Brushies, this property constitutes the largest area of protected land in the Brushy Mountains.
Elk Knob State Park
Ashe and Watauga Counties, 570 acres
By helping expand Elk Knob State Park, BRC has assisted North Carolina in creating additional recreational opportunities while protecting the region’s important natural resources. Part of the amphibolite mountain group, an unusual mountain chain containing a calcium-rich rock rare in the southern Blue Ridge, Elk Knob and its surrounding mountain peaks support an enormous variety of rare plant and animal life. The New River, an American Heritage River and one of the oldest rivers in the world, also originates on Elk Knob.
Three Top Mountain Game Lands
Ashe County, 108 acres
Named for its three prominent rock outcroppings, Three Top Mountain supports a variety of recreational opportunities, as well as a rich ecology and abundant wildlife. Hunters can take advantage of a nearly 3,000-acre game land, hikers will find rugged trails and hidden waterfalls, and in the spring birders can enjoy nesting songbirds like the rose-breasted grosbeak. BRC helped expand the game land and assisted the state in adding a new recreational access area.
J. Douglas Williams Park
Sugar Mountain, Avery County, 14 acres
The J. Douglas Williams Park on Sugar Mountain is the result of an inspired grassroots fundraising effort on the part of the Sugar Mountain Community Association. The conservation easement on this public park provides environmental and scenic protection for forests, wildlife habitat as well as recreational and educational opportunities. The park includes a picnic and restroom facility, as well as three nature trails.
Valle Crucis Community Park
Bordering the Watauga River behind Mast General Store, Valle Crucis Community Park is an immensely popular community resource. To protect open space, as well as the Watauga River’s water quality, BRC accepted a donated conservation easement on the park’s riparian corridor.
Seven Devils, Avery & Watauga County, 265 acres
Peak Mountain is situated between Grandfather Mountain State Park and Bear Paw State Natural Area in the Watauga River headwaters. BRC purchased 265 acres in 2016 protecting 1 ½ miles of ridgeline in the Dun Vegan Natural Area. This mountain is key to linking the two aforementioned protected areas together. Valley Creek flows along the border of this property creating a wonderful riparian forest. Additionally, this property is adjacent to Otter Falls Park owned by the Town of Seven Devils. BRC is partnering with Seven Devils to construct a trail connecting Otter Falls Park with the summit of Peak Mountain. In late 2016, roughly 50 blight resistant American chestnut trees were planted on the portion of the property to try to establish a healthy chestnut population.
Protecting the Mountain Landscape
Blue Ridge Parkway, Raven Rock Overlook
Watauga County, 12 acres
It is said that Raven Rock Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway provides one of the best sunset viewing spots in the region. Looking west, one can enjoy the sunset and views of other BRC conservation lands on Watauga County’s higher peaks. BRC worked with a local landowner to protect the family farm below Raven Rock, bordering the Blue Ridge Parkway. Raven Rock’s views, along with a sustainable farm, are now preserved forever.
Blue Ridge Parkway, Little Glade Millpond
Alleghany County, 102 acres
Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2010, the Blue Ridge Parkway is America’s most visited national park. By showcasing the natural wonder and beauty of the Blue Ridge, the Parkway contributes billions of tourism dollars to North Carolina’s economy. Working with partners like the Conservation Trust for North Carolina, Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, and others, BRC has protected thousands of acres of land along the Parkway, forever preserving the amazing views that attract millions of visitors year after year. Part working cattle farm, part forestland, this conservation easement is located immediately south of the Little Glade Millpond overlook at Mile Post 230. The family has farmed the land for generations and wanted to see it forever protected; CTNC provided funding toward the project. Conservation easement restrictions allow for continued agricultural use of the property and 50-foot riparian buffers will protect the water quality of the streams. The property adjoins the BRP and protects the viewshed along this section.
Blue Ridge Parkway, Ice Rock
Alleghany Count, 95 acres
Located adjacent to Doughton Park in Alleghany County, this property is situated directly below the iconic section of the Parkway known as ‘Ice Rock.’ The Parkway cuts through Bluff Mountain and ice freezes on the cliff and over the road in the winter. Travelers in both directions slow down and enjoy views of this mostly forested property as they pass through the cliff line.
Bullhead Mountain State Natural Area
Alleghany County, 305 acres
Known among birders as a prime spot for watching the hawk migration, Bullhead Mountain also forms a beautiful and significant portion of the mountain scenery along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
BRC’s work at Bullhead Mountain forever protects this Natural Area’s scenic beauty for hikers, bird enthusiasts and Blue Ridge Parkway visitors.
Watauga County, 46 acres
Since BRC’s beginnings, Howards Knob has inspired important community conservation efforts. Thanks to a BRC conservation easement, a major portion of Howards Knob’s southern slope is protected from development forever. This 46-acre natural area permanently protects headwater streams, plant and animal life, as well as a significant piece of scenic beauty for the town of Boone. Through an all-volunteer effort, the property now boasts a hiking trail open to the public. Thanks to the Boone United Methodist Church for allowing the community to hike and enjoy this wonderful asset.
Mission Crossing Byway, NC Highway 194
Avery and Watauga Counties, 123 acres
The N.C. Department of Transportation created Scenic Byways to highlight the beauty of the Tar Heel state, and to raise awareness for the preservation of its special places. In BRC’s seven county region, there are five Scenic Byways, including Mission Crossing. This byway includes
Highway 194 from Avery County along the Elk River, through Banner Elk and Valle Crucis ending in Vilas. On Mission Crossing’s western end, two BRC projects protect 123 acres of farms and fields, forests and streams, and the Byway’s scenic beauty, forever. Pictured is the Oliver Hill easement.