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Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy is dedicated to protecting and stewarding land and water resources vital to our natural heritage and quality of life and to fostering appreciation and understanding of the natural world.
Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy as we know it today began with the quiet leadership and vision of Lela McBride. Coming to Hendersonville from rural Illinois in the mid 1980s, McBride was soon alarmed by how quickly natural areas were being lost to development.
Of course, she was not the only Hendersonville resident with this concern, and in 1991, McBride, along with the Hendersonville League of Women Voters, initiated the first-ever comprehensive inventory of Henderson County's natural areas.
The inventory was completed in 1994, and described land that was clearly worth protecting: rare mountain bogs, thriving forests, windswept summits and clear woodland streams. Yet this was just the initial step for more important work to come.
"From the very beginning, Lela told us the inventory was just step one. Step two was the formation of a land trust," recounts CMLC co-founder, Anne Ulinski. In 1994, Natural Heritage Trust of Henderson County was formed. A year later, the name was changed to Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy.
Our efforts have protected more than 27,000 acres, and we continue to protect land at a record pace. We've grown from a purely volunteer organization, to hiring one part-time employee in 1998, and finally to eleven full-time staff and five AmeriCorps members today. Now a nationally accredited land trust, CMLC hopes to become one of the premier land conservation organizations in the nation!
In 2005, CMLC protected 1,568 acres in the Hickory Nut Gorge--including the nationally-significant Worlds Edge which became the anchor tract of North Carolina's newly-formed Chimney Rock State Park. In 2007, CMLC reached several important milestones including our largest conservation project to date, protecting more than 3,000 acres in the upper Green River watershed. In 2008, CMLC became the first land trust in North Carolina awarded national accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission while also permanently protecting 778 acres including 97 acres of rare mountain bog habitat.
For us here at CMLC, successful completion of projects like Worlds Edge or Green River is what it's all about. It's the conservation of properties like these that inspires our work. As we look forward to more success in saving the places you love, we hope it inspires you too.