Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy

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Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy
Founded 1994
Founder Lela McBride, Anne Ulinski, John Humphrey
Area served
Henderson, Transylvania, Buncombe, Rutherford, Polk and Jackson Counties, North Carolina
Method Conservation
Key people
Kieran C. Roe, executive director
15 Full Time and 5 AmeriCorps members
Slogan "Saving The Places You Love"

Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC) is a non-profit conservation organization working to preserve water and land resources in Western North Carolina. CMLC is an example of a land trust, or an organization that engages in conservation efforts through acquisition of deeded land and conservation and farm easements.


The Conservancy began with a 1991 survey proposed by Lela McBride and the Hendersonville League of Women Voters to determine the natural areas of Henderson County worth protecting. The survey determined that the mountain bogs, dense forests, and scenic mountain peaks surrounding Hendersonville were valuable resources worthy of conservation efforts. In 1994 the Natural Heritage Trust of Henderson County was formed and a year later it was renamed the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy and has expanded its area of focus to include Transylvania and parts of Buncombe, Rutherford, Polk and Jackson Counties.[1] The organization immediately began working with local landowners to protect farm, forest, park, and natural lands with the support of local community members.[2] Since its creation, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy has grown to be one of the premier land conservancies in the Southeast, protecting some 18,000 acres (73 km2) of land, and is a fully accredited land trust under the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.[3]


The Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy works with various sectors of society including businesses, individuals, communities, partner organizations, and government agencies to achieve its goals. CMLC uses a mix of financial incentives along with the good will of conservation minded land owners to preserve land from development.

Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy has pioneered the use of conservation easements in Henderson and Transylvania Counties. A conservation easement is a way for land owners to ensure that their land remains in its natural state while capitalizing on some of the land's potential development value. CMLC also works with the North Carolina Division of State Parks and other government partners to acquire land for sites such as Chimney Rock State Park.

Significant Conservation[edit]

Chimney Rock State Park[edit]

The World's Edge Property was a 2005, $16 million joint effort between the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, along with The Nature Conservancy to save some 1,500 acres (6.1 km2) of a non-contiguous property spanning across Henderson, Polk, and Rutherford counties. The Worlds Edge Property, formerly owned by The Robert Haywood Morrison Foundation, contains over 20,000 feet (6,100 m) of streams and waterfalls, in addition to numerous endangered salamander, bird, and bat species. In December 2009, CMLC acquired the 1,527-acre (6.18 km2) Weed Patch Mountain tract north of Lake Lure, which adds to the corridor of conserved land including the State Park.

Green River Preserve[edit]

The Green River Preserve encompasses some 3,895 acres (15.76 km2) of the upper Green River Watershed, the largest conservation project in terms of acreage by CMLC. The Green River area is listed under the North Carolina Natural Heritage identified natural area, significant for a diversity of habitat types including granite dome outcrops, steep cliffs, rich cove forests, Carolina hemlock bluffs, and pine-oak forests. The conservation of this area was made possible by donations from the Schenck and Ball families, with help from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund.

Florence Nature Preserve[edit]

The Florence Nature Preserve is a 600-acre (2.4 km2) tract located in the upper Hickory Nut Gorge area near Gerton, North Carolina. Donated by Dr. Tom and Glenna Florence in two phases (1996 and 2001) the preserve is open to the general public for hiking.[4] Trails on this preserve are maintained by the Carolina Mountain Club.

Lewis Creek Nature Preserve[edit]

Lewis Creek Nature Preserve is located in Edneyville, North Carolina. The preserve is home to a 6.5 acres (0.026 km2) mixed Appalachian Bog. This ecosystem is listed as critically endangered with only 750 acres (3.0 km2) of this variety of bogs and fens still in existence, an 83 percent loss from the estimated 5,000 acres (20 km2) that once existed.[5]

CMLC purchased the property that forms Lewis Creek Nature Park in 2004 to be maintained for the use of homeowners in the adjacent neighborhood.[6] The North Carolina Ecosystem Enhancement Program has been contracted to conduct stream restoration on the portion of Lewis Creek running through the nature park. The finish date of this project has been delayed from the original estimation of August 2008. Due to the fragile and unique nature of the park, it is not open to the general public, but Carolina Mountain Land conservancy does hold tree planting and exotic invasive species removal work days which are.

Headwaters Conservation Project[edit]

In June 2010, CMLC, in partnership with The Conservation Fund, announced that 8,000 acres (32 km2) in the upper French Broad River watershed in Transylvania County, North Carolina was under contract for purchase with Champion Cattle and Tree Farms, a company owned by the family of former western North Carolina Congressman Charles H. Taylor. The tract lies on the South Carolina state line across from the City of Greenville's 10,000-acre (40 km2) Table Rock Watershed property. It includes an eight-mile (13 km) section of the Foothills Trail and is home to over 50 miles (80 km) of headwaters trout streams.


Like many non-profits, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy relies on the contribution of volunteers who constitute CMLC's board of directors, and participate in the day-to-day operations of the organization. In 2007 volunteers contributed over 3600 hours to the conservancy, saving the organization an estimated $70,236.00 (U.S) worth of staff time.[7] Volunteer positions include office administrators, wildlife monitors, committee members, and tech support consultants.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]