High Country News
Conservation of Pond Mountain!
Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Blue Ridge Conservancy, a non-profit land trust based in Boone, nearly 1,800 acres has been purchased and transferred to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC). In late December, a four-year long effort to protect Pond Mountain in the northwestern corner of North Carolina was completed. The project permanently protects significant views, open space, water resources, and wildlife while creating recreational and economic opportunities.
Pond Mountain overlooks the mountains of Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina and is 5,000 feet in elevation. Immediately to the north are the peaks of Virginia's Grayson Highlands State Park, Jefferson National Forest, Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain. To the west lies Tennessee's expansive Cherokee National Forest. Visible to the east and south are the high peaks of North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains. Pond Mountain is about a 30 minute drive from the beautiful mountain community of Ashe County North Carolina.
Pond Mountain was given its name in the 1700s by Thomas Jefferson's father, Peter Jefferson, as he was surveying the line that would become the border of North Carolina and Virginia. Jefferson chose the name because of the many natural ponds that dotted the mountain's high ridge line. The historic ponds point to the mountain's special significance as an important water resource. Several important streams and creeks originate on Pond Mountain, including Big Laurel, Ripshin, and Big Horse Creeks - all of which flow into the New River, a National Heritage River and one of the oldest rivers in the world.
In addition to preserving the region's natural beauty and vital water resources, the protection of Pond Mountain is important for wildlife. Because of the proximity to the Cherokee National Forest to the west and Jefferson National Forest to the north, protecting the area greatly expands wildlife habitat, including habitats highlighted in North Carolina's State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). Pond Mountain will be held by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and will eventually be open to the public for hunting and other recreational activities such as hiking and horseback riding.
The Protection of Pond Mountain began with a major gift from a private donor through the Foundation for the Carolinas and was completed with substantial assistance from the North Carolinas Natural Heritage and Clean Water Management Trusts Funds.
The mission of the Blue Ridge Conservancy is to protect the natural resources of Northwestern North Carolina by conserving land with significant agricultural, ecological, cultural, recreational, or scenic value. Serving landowners in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yancey counties, Blue Ridge Conservancy has protected a total of 16,109 acres.
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