Vote for a chance for SAHC to win a $3,000 grant for Rocky Fork

Vote for a chance for SAHC to win a $3,000 grant for Rocky Fork
In an effort to raise awareness of the great projects that land trusts are doing across the state in support of Land Trust Day, the Great Outdoor Provision Company has launched a Land Trust Day competition. They are highlighting seven projects from seven different land trusts that are in need of protection. Patagonia has agreed to the underwriting of a $3,000 grant to go towards the winning land trust project. The winning project will be announced on Land Trust Day, June 7th.

ROCKY FORK is the project that SAHC submitted. For those of you that may not be familiar, here is the latest news:

“To say this is a pleasant surprise would be an understatement.” That’s the word from Executive Director Carl Silverstein upon hearing the news that SAHC’s Rocky Fork project is now ranked as the #1 national priority for acquisition by the US Forest Service. “We were pretty excited last year when Rocky Fork ranked as the top USFS priority in the region,” Silverstein continues, “but to work on the top project in the nation, as a conservationist, it just doesn’t get any better than that.”

Nor does it get any more challenging. The 10,000 acre Rocky Fork tract has been eyed by conservationists and developers alike for years because of its size, its connection to 22,000 acres of protected land and its sheer scenic beauty. “This tract is going to become the favorite place of the next generation of Appalachian Trail users and outdoor enthusiasts,” says Jay Leutze, an SAHC board member who has traveled to Washington DC four times in the last year to lobby for federal funds for the acquisition. “For fly-fishing, hiking, mountain-bike riding, bird-watching and more, this vast land is going to add a critical link to decades of successful land protection. Purchasing it to give it to the public is just the right thing to do for locals, and for the people of the United States.”

Situated 34 miles from Asheville, NC, and 34 miles from Johnson City, TN, astride the new I-26 highway, the $40 million dollar tract stands on what might have been the next frontier of large-scale high-end development. Instead, SAHC’s partner, The Conservation Fund, has secured the site with an option to buy the entire tract. “Getting site security on the entire parcel, having the land under contract, is key,” Silverstein adds. “But closing the deal will still take a monumental effort involving private, state and federal dollars.”

It is not too much of a stretch to say that the top conservation project in the country will require the top fund-raising effort, too. “SAHC grows every year,” says Leutze. “Our members want to know that we are capable of protecting the landscapes we all cherish. As a result we’ve gotten very strategic about pursuing our priorities, increased our capacity through partnerships and member-drives, and worked at building relationships from Asheville to Nashville, and all the way to Capitol Hill.” Silverstein adds this: “We won’t celebrate until the deal is closed, but we’re confident that the work we’ve done on Rocky Fork is going to pay off.”
Below is GOPC’s website page with the Land Trust Day project competition descriptions.

Cheryl Fowler
Operations Director
The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy
828-253-0095, ext. 200
34 Wall Street, Ste. 502
Asheville, NC 28801

appalachian .org

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This blog is a work in progress. An ardent perambulator and nature enthusiast; I take pictures of what I see and post them here occasionally.