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Thanksgiving: Conservancies Protect Land from Being Gobbled Up

The Rock Creek tract of land is among the acreage protected by the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina. (Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina)
The Rock Creek tract of land is among the acreage protected by the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina. (Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina)
November 22, 2017

MORGANTON, N.C. – Thursday marks the Super Bowl of eating for many, and a brisk walk before or after eating too much turkey and gravy could go a long way in reducing our discomfort later in the day.

In North Carolina, trails and activities can be found on land conserved by the state's 22 land trusts.

The Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina has protected more than 51,000 acres from development and ensured they're accessible to all, explains executive director Andrew Kota.

"We have these nice open spaces to stretch our legs, and when we're stretching our legs by hiking or biking, we're stretching our minds a little bit and it's giving us a little bit of peace of mind," he states.

Land conservancies work with landowners to purchase land and protect it for the future.

Three of North Carolina's Scenic Byways cross the conservancy's eight-county region, including the Pisgah Loop, the Upper Yadkin Way, and South Mountains Scenery crossing upper Rutherford and Cleveland counties.

Conserving Carolina is another conservancy that works to protect public access to trails, water recreation and rock climbing.

Assistant director for programs Rebekah Robinson says Conserving Carolina’s mission extends beyond just protecting the land, but also planting a seed for future generations.

"Part of our mission at Conserving Carolina is not just to protect land and water and other natural resources, but to really connect people to those resources to understanding how they impact their life every day," she points out.

Kota says the value of land conservancies and the outdoor recreation they preserve is that they're accessible to all, regardless of how much money people have in their pockets.

"It doesn't matter what your economic background is,” he stresses. “These places are typically free, and that's the whole point of what we do.

“Most of the properties that Foothills Conservancy has protected has gone into public ownership so people can hike, bike, go rock climbing."

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC