HENDERSON & TRANSYLVANIA COUNTIES, NC (Feb. 13, 2019)—Grant support from the Open Space Institute (OSI) has led to the expansion of a North Carolina state forest called DuPont State Recreational Forest, along the North and South Carolina border. The land also expands a 100,000-acre corridor of conserved land, which will remain a haven for sensitive plants and animals, even as climate change occurs.
OSI’s grant went to Conserving Carolina for the protection of the 402-acre “Continental Divide” property. Conserving Carolina had been working to protect the land for a dozen years, during which time the land had a succession of owners, including a post-recession bank foreclosure.
“This project highlights the importance of land conservation in an era of climate change, not only for communities and recreation, but also for wildlife,” said Peter Howell, executive vice president of OSI. “This project broadens the connection between conserved lands in North and South Carolina, which will create critical havens for wildlife in the wake of climate change. We applaud Conserving Carolina’s efforts on this project and their overall commitment to this important landscape.”
Across North Carolina, OSI has conserved 9,000 acres of climate-resilient lands. Across the greater Southeast, OSI has conserved nearly 25,000 acres of these climate-resilient lands.
The Continental Divide tract is so named because directly adjacent to the eastern side of the Eastern Continental Divide, a geologic separation running along the Blue Ridge Mountains. Waters on the eastern side of the Divide flow east towards the Atlantic, while waters on the western side flow west towards the Gulf of Mexico.
The newly-protected property also helps link DuPont Forest to more than 100,000 acres of existing conserved lands along the North Carolina-South Carolina state line. Public lands in this corridor include Jones Gap State Park, Caesar’s Head State Park, Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, Headwaters State Forest, Greenville Watershed, Jocassee Gorges, and Gorges State Park—and, further west, Sumter and Nantahala National Forests. The Continental Divide property also borders thousands of acres of private conservation land, including two summer camps.
In addition to OSI’s grant, funding for the 402 acres came from the N.C. Forest Service and generous private donations from Fred and Alice Stanback; Marilyn Westphal and Mark Simpson; and Maurice Loiselle and Karen Topol.