John & Faye Cooper Receive Inaugural Stanback Conservation Leadership Award from Blue Ridge Conservancy

On Thursday, August 17th the staff and board of Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) hosted an intimate donor appreciation party to celebrate BRC’s 2016-2017 accomplishments, and honor John and Faye Cooper:  Owners of the Mast General Store, well-known leaders of the community, and longtime conservationists, by awarding them the Inaugural Stanback Conservation Leadership Award. The event site was well suited for the celebration, as it was hosted behind the Original Mast General Store on the farm that the Coopers donated to BRC in 2016.

The impact the Coopers have made in the High Country is extraordinary, including the following conservation and historic preservation projects:

  • The donation of a 21.7-acre farm to BRC located within the Valle Crucis Historic District. This scenic property will forever remain as agricultural and recreational land.       
  • Leaders in the effort to designate Valle Crucis as North Carolina's First Rural Historic District and preservation of the Original Mast General Store.
  • Leaders in the establishment of Valle Crucis Community Park.
  • Leaders in the effort to save and restore the Appalachian Theatre in Boone.
  • Partners in Land Trust Day:  On the first Saturday in June, Mast General Stores display information about local land trusts and donate a percentage of their sales to assist land trusts in protecting open space, scenic views, farmland, water quality, hiking trails and other recreational resources.
  • John volunteers on BRC's Board of Directors and the Coopers are generous investors in BRC’s mission to work with willing landowners and local communities to permanently protect land and water resources with agricultural, ecological, cultural, recreational, and scenic value in Northwest North Carolina.

The Stanback Conservation Leadership Award was named after Fred and Alice Stanback:  The premier conservationists in North Carolina and the Southeast.  Their support has transformed the ability of many land trusts, including BRC, to forever protect special environmental resources that millions of people treasure. The Stanbacks inspire others to take leadership in the protection of places we love.  As such The Stanback Conservation Leadership Award honors the Stanbacks' legacy. 

With the dedication and support from the Coopers, Stanbacks, and all of BRC’s donors and members, BRC was able to acquire 1,560 acres while monitoring and managing 180 unique conservation easements within the last year. Fifteen projects helped expand 6 public parks and public access to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Grandfather Mountain State Park, Bullhead Mountain State Natural Area, Elk Knob State Park, the Creeper Trail Park in Ashe County, and the Middle Fork Greenway.

For every $1 donated in the last twelve months for operations, BRC leveraged $17 in direct support for land protection resulting in an investment of $6.5 million for land and water protection, public access, and sustainable agriculture.

Nikki Robinson