By Emma Castleberry
Locals and tourists alike will have several opportunities this fall to celebrate the natural beauty of the Western North Carolina region with Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina (FCNC).
FCNC is a nationally accredited, nonprofit regional land trust that works to protect the Foothills and Blue Ridge Mountains by entering into conservation easements or acquiring land. Once the conservancy acquires a property, they either preserve it themselves or donate it to partners such as the NC Wildlife Resources Commission or NC State Parks.
“Tools such as conservation easements help keep valuable farms and forests safe from over-development,” says Beth Willard-Patton, FCNC development director. “The conservation of land and water helps drive our economy by providing places in nature to hike, camp, swim, paddle, bike and play. Natural resource preservation also provides vital habitat protection for plants and animals.”
FCNC played a major role in the expansion of Lake James State Park, where the Catawba RiverFest will be held on Saturday, September 16, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will feature free canoe and kayak rentals, food, music and educational exhibits about river preservation. Admission is free.
Another FCNC project is the Wildacres Retreat, a property spanning more than 1,000 acres below the Deerlick Gap Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. FCNC partnered with Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC) to protect the Wildacres Retreat, and the three groups will be hosting a free guided hike on Saturday, September 23, beginning at 10:30 a.m.
“The hike will provide members of the public an opportunity to enjoy trails on portions of the property to be protected by a conservation easement,” says Tom Kenney, land protection director for FCNC. The hike will last about two hours and be followed by a picnic lunch. The event is free and open to the public, but attendees should RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
FCNC will host the 7th annual Flavors of the Foothills Fall Harvest Benefit at the Morganton Community House from 5:30–8:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 28. Dinner is included in the $50 event ticket and all proceeds from ticket sales will supplement the operating budget of FCNC.
“We are always looking for interesting and unique items to include in this annual event,” says Willard-Patton. “We have three themes for our silent auction: local fun, local flavor and local flair. Items range from pottery, jewelry and art to exclusive getaways and furniture.”
Lake James State Park is located at 6884 NC 126 in Nebo. The Morganton Community House is located at 120 North King Street in downtown Morganton. For more information, visit foothillsconservancy.org.