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NC Land Trusts Play Their Parts for Prime Eclipse Viewing


Thursday, August 17, 2017   

HIGHLANDS, N.C. – Monday may be the closest thing to time standing still, as thousands of people flock to parts of North Carolina that are in the path of totality for the solar eclipse in the afternoon.

Sunset Rock at Ravenel Park in Highlands is one of the top spots for eclipse viewing. That's partly because of geography, but the unspoiled area created by the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust also has a lot to do with it, says the land trust's executive director, Gary Wein.

"One of the issues with the eclipse, of course, is going to be light pollution and so, through conservation easements, we can oftentimes negotiate or mandate that landowners will have lighting around their homes that do not 'brighten up' the night sky," he points out.

Wein says because of limited parking at Ravenel Park, the town of Highlands is helping to limit access to car traffic and asking people to walk to the location.

Local law enforcement is bracing for increased crowds and traffic, and some businesses are closing for the day.

Katie Onheiber, communications and marketing manager at Conserving Carolina, says the total solar eclipse is a great example of how everyone benefits from the long-term planning involved with conserving land.

"We're really lucky a lot of the lands that we have worked to conserve are in the path of totality of Transylvania County,” she states. “It's really the hard work of people that have a passion for nature, for the outdoors, for protecting and conserving our natural resources."

Wein says his land trust is leaving the crowd management to local law enforcement, but will use Monday's event as a means to educate visitors about the benefits of a land trust.

"For us specifically, these people will come and go, they don't live here,” he says. “Down the road, those people may come back and then, they'll be important to us. But we're going to advertise who we are at our site."

Wein adds even when there isn't a big event like an eclipse, North Carolina's land trusts allow the unobstructed views that just aren't available in other parts of the country where there's more development and pollution.

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