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(ASHEVILLE, N.C.)— The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (NCDENR) Natural Heritage Program has verified that the Box Creek Wilderness in McDowell and Rutherford counties ranks at the top of such areas in the state: 24th in overall significance among the state’s approximately 2,400 total identified Significant Natural Heritage Areas.
The Significant Natural Heritage Areas ranking is based on the collective value index, which sums all the different rare species and communities weighted by their rarity.
Box Creek Wilderness was originally identified by NCDENR as a Significant Natural Heritage Area in 2004 when the property was known as Rocky Face/Camel Knob. NCDENR’s Natural Heritage Program identifies a Significant Natural Heritage Area as an area of land or water that is important to conserve to protect the state’s biodiversity.
In May 2012 the NCDENR Natural Heritage Program’s Advisory Committee recommended that the State enter into a Registry agreement with the owner of Box Creek Wilderness, Tim Sweeney. Upon completion of the Registry agreement, Box Creek Wilderness became the largest privately owned Significant Natural Heritage Area in North Carolina. Voluntary SNHA Registry agreements recognize the landowner’s commitment to ecological conservation of the area. According to the Natural Heritage Program website, “Guiding standards for managing and using a registered area are to protect the natural qualities and maintain the area in as nearly a natural condition as possible.”
For more information about the Box Creek Wilderness and the campaign to protect it, contact: Jeff Fisher, Unique Places, LLC: (919)632-0161 or email@example.com, or visit http://www.boxcreekwilderness.com.