Conservation of property on Blue Ridge Parkway protects water quality and habitat



On June 29 the Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC) purchased a 50-acre property in Jackson County that adjoins the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The Open Branch Headwaters tract provides a critical link between National Park Service (NPS) lands and other nearby protected properties.

The property, near Parkway milepost 452, rises to 5,400 feet and contains rare spruce-fir habitat. CTNC plans to donate this land to the National Park Service for inclusion in the Parkway’s official boundary. This and other properties protected by CTNC and other conservation groups are part of a growing area of contiguous, protected land that is intended to become a new park at Waterrock Knob on the Parkway.

“Every time a property is conserved adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway, it improves the visitor experience by preserving scenic vistas, water quality, and habitat for wildlife,” said Mark Woods, Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent.  “Nonprofit conservation organizations are helping to transform the region near Waterrock Knob into a large area of protected forests and streams, and the Open Branch Headwaters tract is a key piece in that puzzle.”

“Protection of this property means pure water in Open Branch and healthy habitat for roaming wildlife,” said Rusty Painter, CTNC Land Protection Director.

The Conservation Trust for North Carolina has now conserved 61 properties on the Blue Ridge Parkway, totaling 32,957 acres.

Other land trusts that conserve land in Jackson County include: Mainspring Conservation Trust (,  based in Franklin; Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (, based in Asheville; Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust (, based in Highlands; and Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (, based in Hendersonville.

About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle, Juked and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, is now available.

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