With its unique rock outcroppings, waterfalls and granite cliffs, Hickory Nut Gorge cuts a dramatic swath along the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment just 15 miles from Asheville, NC. Presiding over the gorge is Chimney Rock State Park.
Altogether, the gorge’s natural beauty makes it a top-five attraction in North Carolina. It is a significant economic driver in the region; a destination for hikers, boaters, wildlife viewers; the site of weddings and family reunions; and has even starred in movies, such as 1972’s Deliverance.
Amidst this natural beauty, however, development is sprawling as residents from nearby Atlanta, Charlotte and Knoxville build second homes, resorts and golf courses. At the same time, invasive species and climate change compound to threaten the gorge’s fragile ecological balance.
Facing significant development pressure and lacking the capital to act quickly, the region’s land trusts have turned to OSI to help finance large conservation transactions. Since 2005, OSI has made two loans totaling $4.9 million to enlarge Chimney Rock State Park.