Press release from Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina:
On March 23, the Tuttle Forest Foundation acquired 20 acres of land adjoining the 288-acre Tuttle Educational State Forest in Caldwell County with support from Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina.
The Tuttle Educational State Forest is a unique educational resource to teach the public, especially children, about the forest environment. It features self-guided trails that include tree identification signage, forest exhibits, and a forest education center with a talking tree trail. Park rangers are heavily involved in the educational efforts of the forest. The abundance of clean water resources within Tuttle Educational State Forest allows for educational programs that focus on aquatic ecosystems.
Funding for the acquisition came from the Tuttle Forest Foundation, as well as an anonymous donation to Foothills Conservancy and an anonymous donation to the Tuttle Forest Foundation.
“It has been a pleasure working with the foundation on the acquisition of this land,” said Foothills Conservancy Executive Director Andrew Kota. “Our partnership with the foundation and the opportunity to acquire this land to buffer the state educational forest came up several years ago, but we couldn’t strike a deal at that time. It is a great outcome knowing that this parcel of land is no longer at risk of being developed. Tuttle Educational State Forest is an excellent resource for this community and we encourage the public to visit this remarkable state forest.”
The Tuttle Educational State Forest comprises two adjacent parcels, one owned by the North Carolina Forest Service and the other owned by the Tuttle Forest Foundation, which leases its parcel to the state as part of the forest. Acquisition of the 20-acre addition not only ensures its protection from development, but also protects water quality in a tributary stream in the headwaters of Lower Creek that flows into the state forest property.
Members of the Tuttle Forest Foundation board were delighted with the acquisition of this priority piece of property.
“We’ve been trying to acquire this property for over 20 years,” said Van Griffith, chairman of the board. “We came close a couple of times, but we could not have done this without the help of our partners, including Foothills Conservancy.”
Pat Pennington, a foundation board member, expressed similar relief at completing a project several years in the making.
“This is a very significant piece of property that we have been trying to get for a long time,” said Pennington. “We are so excited that it just became the right time. It’s set up great for teaching and anyone from Lenoir-Rhyne [University], Appalachian State [University], or Western Piedmont [Community College] can use it.”
The Tuttle Forest Foundation’s ultimate goal is to provide forestry education within the Tuttle State Educational Forest and, according to Griffith, “[we] are trying every way in the world to do that in as many different ways as [we] can.” Adding new acreage to the forest is one of the best ways to accomplish that.
The foundation looks forward to its next big project: continuing to acquire property for the forest and building an indoor classroom/museum that displays antique firefighting and forestry equipment.
Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina is a nationally accredited, non-profit regional land trust based in Morganton. The conservancy works cooperatively with landowners and public/private conservation partners to preserve and protect significant natural areas and open spaces. Focus areas include watersheds, forests and farmland across the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains and foothills in eight counties: Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cleveland, Lincoln, McDowell, and Rutherford. Since 1995, Foothills Conservancy has protected more than 54,000 acres, including lands added to South Mountains, Lake James and Chimney Rock state parks; Wilson Creek, South Mountains and the Johns River state game lands; Pisgah National Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Information about Foothills Conservancy, including ways to support its work, can be found online at www.foothillsconservancy.org or by calling 828-437-9930.