The Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina acquired 160 acres of land along Laurel Creek and N.C. 18 in Burke County on July 22 for permanent conservation.
The Laurel Creek project expands the conservancy’s Smith Cliffs/Henry Fork River Preserve and adjoins other privately owned conservation lands. This acquisition is one of many key planned purchases for the future Wilderness Gateway State Trail corridor between the South Mountains and Mineral Springs Mountain, heading toward the town of Valdese.
In addition to its potential for future trail construction, the land contains a 575-foot segment of Laurel Creek, designated an outstanding resource water by the N.C. Division of Water Quality and a large tributary to the Henry Fork River.
Jack Poteet, the financier for the property, has known about the work of Foothills Conservancy for many years. When the landowner made the decision to sell, Poteet said he knew that conservation was the best move and reached out to the conservancy.
“This is a beautiful piece of land with ridgelines and streams,” he said. “It really complements the land the conservancy already owns, and I’m glad it’s going to be permanently protected.”
The conservancy will manage the property for conservation, native forest restoration and future public access. It will continue planning and working with N.C. State Parks and other partners to acquire more land and trail easements to help establish a future trail corridor for the Wilderness Gateway State Trail.
“This parcel of land advances all of the conservation work we’ve been doing with partners along the Henry Fork River corridor,” said Andrew Kota, executive director of Foothills Conservancy. “It also gets us one step closer to establishing a corridor of protected land from the South Mountains to Mineral Springs Mountain, and eventually to the town of Valdese.”
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