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Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy partners with landowners and organizations to protect land and water resources vital to our natural heritage and quality of life. As an effective nonprofit organization dedicated to saving the places you love, CMLC works to permanently conserve and actively care for an ever-growing regional network of locally and nationally significant farm, forest, park and natural lands.
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 24,000 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 ten 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!
The past few years alone have been milestones for us. In 2005, for example, we protected 1,568 acres of land in the Hickory Nut Gorge-including the nationally-significant World's Edge which has become part of North Carolina's newly formed Chimney Rock State Park. In 2007, CMLC saw several important milestones: we completed our largest conservation project to date, protecting more than 3,000 pristine acres in the upper Green River watershed and we completed 20 projects, more projects than in any previous year. In 2008 we became the first land trust in North Carolina awarded national accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, and broke ground on our new home! In addition to achieving these milestones, 778 acres were permanently protected including 97 acres of rare mountain bog habitat.
For us here at CMLC, successful completion of projects like World's 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.