Green in brief: Conserving Carolina to expand Bracken Mountain Preserve

Bikers at Brackenfest
HAPPY TRAILS: Bikers participate in the Brackenfest fundraiser, which helped support Conserving Carolina's land purchase to expand the Bracken Mountain Preserve. Photo by Tricia Davis, courtesy of Conserving Carolina

Hendersonville-based Conserving Carolina ended 2022 with good news for lovers of the outdoors: On Dec. 30, the nonprofit completed the purchase of 34 acres in Brevard to expand the Bracken Mountain Preserve. The new land will bolster the existing 395-acre park, owned by the city of Brevard, which connects to Pisgah National Forest.

A Conserving Carolina press release announcing the acquisition notes that the current entrance trail to the preserve is particularly steep, which can discourage some users from exploring the area. The expansion will host up to 3 new miles of more moderate trails and provide easier access to the existing trail network.

“This is part of the city’s vision of expanding Bracken Preserve and adding trails that are suitable for beginning and intermediate-level riders,” said Brevard Mayor Maureen Copelof. “We are extremely grateful for the partnership with Conserving Carolina, which led the fundraising efforts, and for the enthusiastic and dedicated efforts of community leaders like Howie Granat, Ryan Olson and others who stepped up and organized successful fundraising events like Brackenfest.”

Private donors, including noted Salisbury philanthropists Fred and Alice Stanback, contributed $159,000 toward the $320,000 purchase of the property, while the city of Brevard contributed $70,000. Conserving Carolina covered the remaining cost through an internal loan but will continue to seek grants and donations for the project.

Good to know

  • Hominy Creek Greenway planting
    SPROUT TO IT: The West Asheville Garden Stroll is providing grants of up to $1,000 for community-oriented landscaping projects in West Asheville, such as this planting on the Hominy Creek Greenway funded last year. Photo courtesy of WAGS

    The West Asheville Garden Stroll has opened applications for its 2023 Seed Money grants. The volunteer-led group will provide funding of up to $1,000 for community-oriented landscaping projects that beautify West Asheville’s public spaces. Applications must be submitted by Saturday, Feb. 18; more information is available at

  • The Haywood County Public Library encourages residents to take advantage of the Seed Library of Waynesville, which opens this year on Monday, Feb. 27. Anyone with a library card can receive 10 free packets of open-pollinated vegetable and herb seeds. More information is available at
  • Cultivate Climbing, an indoor climbing gym in Asheville, has launched two meetups meant to welcome people who haven’t traditionally participated in the sport. Climbers who are Black, Indigenous and people of color are encouraged to attend the N.C. BIPOC Climbers event on the second Wednesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. The Southeastern Queer Climbers meetup takes place every third Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. More information is available at
  • Old Fort manufacturer Kitsbow Cycling Apparel has launched a new online storefront, Kitsbow Experienced Apparel, that allows customers to list and sell used gear. David Billstrom, Kitsbow’s founder and CEO, says the move supports the company’s sustainability goals by reducing waste. More information is available at

Community kudos

  • Butter Gap, a multiuse trail in Pisgah National Forest, is getting substantial upgrades under the leadership of Pisgah Area SORBA. Because the U.S. Forest Service has designated the current path as unsustainable due to heavy use and erosion, the nonprofit will build over 5 miles of new trail alignment and improve 2 miles of existing trail. Construction is set to begin this spring and is estimated to cost from $275,000 to $350,000, with funding provided by the state of North Carolina, the Transylvania County Tourism Development Authority and other backers.
  • Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk has become the country’s first BearWise-certified college campus. The honor recognizes the college’s work to reduce human-bear interactions and eliminate bear attractants such as unsecured garbage. More information about the BearWise program is available at

Raise your voice

  • The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission seeks public input on proposed changes to hunting, fishing and game land activities for 2023-24. The closest in-person session takes place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, at McDowell Tech in Marion; a virtual session will also be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19, and comments will be accepted via phone or email through the end of the month. More information is available at
  • Buncombe County is presenting its draft Comprehensive Plan 2043 for feedback at events throughout the county through Friday, Feb. 10. The document will help set the county’s agenda on matters of land use, conservation, recreation and other crucial topics for the next 20 years. More information is available at

Save the date

  • The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s annual Business of Farming Conference returns to the A-B Tech Conference Center on Saturday, Feb. 11. Seven new workshops will be on offer at the all-day event, including sessions on land access, retirement planning and climate resilience. Early-bird registration is available for $75 through Sunday, Jan. 15, at
  • Asheville GreenWorks hosts The Great Buzz Gathering via Zoom from 6-7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24. Participants in the event, part of Asheville’s Bee City USA initiative, will share the pollinator projects they completed last year and make plans for 2023. More information and registration are available at
  • Conserving Carolina is bringing author Doug Tallamy to Columbus as part of its Gardening for Life event at Polk County High School on Saturday, March 4. Tallamy’s books, which include the New York Times bestseller Nature’s Best Hope, emphasize the vital role home-scale landscapes can play in supporting wildlife. Free registration and more information are available at
  • Barnardsville nonprofit Soul Gardens has launched applications for its 2023 immersion program, which begins Tuesday, March 28. Participants will meet weekly to learn ritual gardening, holistic living and community skills from instructors Maayan Chelsea and Scotty Karas; the program also includes gardening service trips to Cherokee in partnership with the Indigenous community. More information and registration are available at

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About Daniel Walton
Daniel Walton is the former news editor of Mountain Xpress. His work has also appeared in Sierra, The Guardian, and Civil Eats, among other national and regional publications. Follow me @DanielWWalton

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