NEW STATE FOREST COMING TO WNC

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LAND PLACED IN CONSERVANCY BY FORMER WNC CONGRESSMAN CHARLES TAYLOR AND HIS FAMILY 

 
The future Headwaters State Forest in Transylvania County encompasses 8,000 acres of forest, streams and waterfalls. Some 3,200 acres are now permanently conserved with a recent $3 million grant from the federal Forest Legacy Program

 

Plans for the newest state forest in the mountains took a step closer to becoming reality with a federal grant to purchase some prime riverfront property.

The future Headwaters State Forest, which will eventually encompass 8,000 acres in Transylvania County, is now more securely preserved with a $3 million grant from the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program, funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The grant, announced Tuesday by the N.C. Department of Agriculture, The Conservation Fund and the U.S. Forest Service, secured 711 more acres from former U.S. Congressman Charles Taylor, whose family has owned the land since the 1980s.

This is the first time Forest Legacy funds have ever been used to purchase land in North Carolina for conservation, said Michael Cheek, assistant regional forester with the N.C. Forest Service. Along with $5.4 million in private and state funding for previous acquisitions, the purchase brings the total land preserved in the future state forest to 3,200 acres.

“This land is right on the East Fork River, on East Fork Road. It borders the East Fork, which is a trout stream, for about a mile or two,” Cheek said. “The whole purpose of the project is to protect the headwaters of East Fork French Broad River.”

Headwaters State Forest will become North Carolina’s 10th state forest and its third largest. Situated in prime outdoor recreation real estate in the East Fork watershed of the French Broad River on the South Carolina border, it is adjacent to more than 100,000 acres of existing conservation lands in both states.

Four times the size of Mount Mitchell State Park, Headwaters spans more than nine miles of forested land with waterfalls and five miles trout streams, and provides habitat for federally endangered plant species.

The project was created in 2010 through a $33 million deal with the Taylor family, which has agreed to sell up to 8,000 acres to the state.