TU's Southeast conservation staff and grassroots members are one step closer to protecting a critical in-holding on the North Mills River. Thanks to a TU grassroots fundraising campaign, the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy's efforts and a new conservation-minded owner, the Big Creek Lodge property has been secured from development. The partnership is now working to win appropriations from the Land and Water Conservation Fund in order to permanently place the property in the Pisgah National Forest and secure this popular fishery.
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The Property: In the last years, the Big Creek Lodge property has been a constant worry for local anglers. An 80-acre in-holding in the Pisgah National Forest on the North Mills River, it holds key access to upper sections of the river for both angling and stocking (see maps). Previous owners have proposed a variety of development schemes that would dramatically impact the river's health and limit public access for fishing. The future of the delayed harvest fisheries management for the entire section would also be put at risk if the property were developed.
A change in ownership provided an opportunity to protect the Big Creek Lodge property. TU worked with the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy to secure the undeveloped portions of the tract now with the goal of selling the property to the Forest Service in 2013.
What is the current status? Big Creek Lodge is now secured from development until Land and Water Conservation Fund funding can be appropriated by congress in FY13 and FY14. TU is engaging in advocacy work in Washington, DC to assure availability of these essential funds. North Carolina's elected officials have been supportive of this effort, but there will much work to do in the coming months.
TU's funds will work twice for coldwater: When the property is sold to the Forest Service, the funds will be recovered and re-invested in TU's regional Coldwater Land Conservancy Fund.
Contact Damon Hearne, SE Land Protection Coordinator | firstname.lastname@example.org | 828.398.0177