News & Events: News

Please be advised that Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy is partnering with the North Carolina Forest Service (NCFS) to conduct a controlled burn in Florence Nature Preserve. This burn will occur on a single day between November 2015 and late March 2016. The date will be determined based on weather conditions and will be announced 1-3 days in advance. The burn will directly affect the northern portion of Florence Nature Preserve (see map below) but the entire property, including all trails and Little Pisgah Road, will be closed on the day of the burn.
Benefits of Controlled Burns:
  • Reduce the accumulation of fuels and therefore the risk posed to people and property from an uncontrolled fire
  • Promote species diversity, ecosystem health, and help control invasive species
  • Create openings in the canopy stimulating growth of oak and other beneficial species 
Safety is the #1 Priority of Every Controlled Burn Managers consider the safety of people, property, and the resource they are managing. This burn has been carefully planned by CMLC & NCFS, and the NCFS has prepared a burn plan for smoke & fire control. Florence Nature Preserve trails will be used as firebreaks. NCFS & CMLC have prepared these trails to ensure that the fire does not leave the burn area. NCFS personnel will be on property until the fire is completely out.
For more information please contact Sarah Fraser at CMLC: 828-697-5777 ext. 209; or Lee Wicker at NCFS: 828-891-3957

Downtown Hendersonville's Bearfootin' Public Art Walk has helped raise funding for Historic Dowtown Hendersonville and a variety of local non-profits since 2003. Twenty Bears are sponsored and decorated to reflect the theme or cause they represent to the community. After spending months in downtown Hendersonville, the Bears will be auctioned off with proceeds going to local non-profits. The Bears offer a window into the variety of good work being done by non-profits and community organizations in Henderson County. 

CMLC's Boulderbear is located in front of the Historic Courthouse. Boulderbear was created by the talented Susan Olivari and is sponsored by Hendograph Media, Chef Michael's Catering, and YouGetWeGive. The auction takes place on the steps of the old courthouse in downtown Hendersonville on Saturday, October 24th with auction sign-in and live music starting at 2:30 and the auction starting at 4:30, so set the date on your calendar! Can't be there? Online bidding and absentee bids will be accepted. Take a chance at winning Boulderbear and conserve the land you love at the same time!

Click here for more information about the Bearfootin' Public Art Walk and other Hendersonville Events.






From Left to Right: Jack Henderson, Corinne Fretwell, Richard Barnhart, Chelsea Rath, and Ericka Berg

This year, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy is excited to welcome four new and one returning member of AmeriCorps Project Conserve. Over the next eleven months, each member will serve over 1,700 hours and help CMLC build and maintain countless trails, coordinate volunteers, steward conserved land, educate the public, and plan events. Welcome!

In the last ten years of service, Project Conserve has facilitated immense change:

  • 410,000 hours of service to WNC
  • 196 members completed 11-month service terms
  • 30 members served 2 terms of service
  • 40 environmental and conservation organizations involved
  • 33 Project Conserve alumni employed by host sites
  • 52,600 people educated about environmental and conservation issues
  • 5,800 volunteers recruited and served 33,100 hours

In this 11th year of AmeriCorps Project Conserve, 32 individuals were placed in full-time service positions at 17 non-profit organizations across Western North Carolina. Each member serves at least 1700 hours over their 11-month term. Service is focused on fulfilling environmental and conservation needs in the region and host sites include Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, and Mountain True, among CMLC and others. You can read more about how Project Conserve began, or visit the AmeriCorps Project Conserve Website


Richard Barnhart
Trails Associate

If this Alaska born conservationist can’t be found, you’ll probably locate him on one of the local hiking trails.  In his travels, he has always incorporated finding the local mountains, having a deep desire to be on top of that ridge line in the distance. AmeriCorps introduced him to the idea that he could spend his time protecting what he loved; by helping create sustainable trail networks, these mountains could be enjoyed yet remain beautiful. After spending a couple seasons in the back-country of Maine (with the Maine Conservation Corps), he knew he wanted to continue this life of trail construction. Now it is time for him to get involved in every aspect of what it takes to get those trail networks ready for, not just Richard, but for everyone to enjoy. He hopes to bring his knowledge and charisma to Project conserve, through the Carolina Mountains Land Conservancy as a Trails Associate, helping create, sustain, and enjoy the local trail networks of western North Carolina.





Ericka Berg
Volunteer and Community Engagement Associate

Ericka Berg grew up in Sunny View in northern Polk County, North Carolina and attended Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, where she received her BA in Biology with a minor in German in 2014. Ericka’s love for biology was sparked early on and never went out. Throughout college, Ericka dabbled in a little bit of everything, from cellular biology to histology to ecology and parasitology, but she couldn’t quite find a topic she didn’t love. Three terms of research let her know that her passion was in more hands-on work, but it was after college through her volunteer positions at the Louisville Zoo and Jefferson Memorial Forest that she realized her true passion lies in wildlife and conservation biology and volunteer management. Through her position as Volunteer and Community Engagement Associate, she aims to inspire, help, and encourage others in conserving, tending, and connecting to the WNC lands she has always called home.






Corinne Fretwell
Community Outreach Associate

Corinne grew up in a far northwest suburb of Chicago, IL but now calls Asheville and the Appalachian Mountains her home. She discovered her love for hands on learning, outdoor education, and ecosystem studies as a young Montessori student. Corinne continued her formal education at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She graduated cum laude with a degree in Environmental Studies and a concentration in Ecology. Experience with the Forest Service as a research technician introduced Corinne to the professional world of practical science, and her time spent as a Writing Consultant and an Ecology Tutor at UNC-A has inspired her to pursue a career centered on teaching and sharing important information about our environment. In her free time, Corinne loves to spend time with her sweet pup, explore mountain streams, and craft. She looks forward to being a passionate educational link between CMLC and the greater WNC community as the Community Outreach Associate in this upcoming AmeriCorps term!





Jack Henderson
Stewardship Associate

Jack Henderson was raised not far from Washington, DC. Attending Appalachian State, he studied GIS, Geography and Recreation Management.  An internship with Blue Ridge Conservancy helped spark an interest with non-profit, private lands conservation. Stewardship of conservation easements and preserves allowed him to combine his passion for the outdoors, cartography and sustainable management of private property. After graduating, Jack worked with non-profits in Oregon, South Carolina and Idaho; farming, monitoring conservation easements, creating maps, leading volunteers, and managing invasive weeds.  Jack's heart has stayed in North Carolina and returned to pursue service through AmeriCorps Project Conserve. He is honored to be to working with CMLC’s team of talented conservationists. As the Stewardship Associate, Jack leads and performs sustainable practices for managing and restoring the Conservancy's nature preserves, and develops strong ties with volunteers. Jack lives adjacent to the Green River Game Lands and loves to explore Western NC by bike and boat.





Chelsea Rath
Hickory Nut Gorge Associate

Chelsea grew up in Winston-Salem and has since continued living within the borders of the beautiful state of North Carolina. She earned a BS in Ecology and Environmental Biology and a minor in Geography from Appalachian State University in May 2013. While in college, Chelsea worked with the Blue Ridge Parkway as a biological wildlife technician surveying flora and fauna in the park's wetlands. This position, in addition to the college field courses, solidified Chelsea's interests in biology and conservation. She is excited to be serving her second term with CMLC as the AmeriCorps Hickory Nut Gorge Associate. Chelsea enjoys spending time with friends and family, hiking, and karaoke.








Thank You All for a Beautiful, Fun, and Successful 15th Annual Conservation Celebration!

Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy donors, members, volunteers, and staff gathered together this past Saturday, September 19th to celebrate CMLC's conservation successes at Grand Highlands' Bearwallow Mountain Lodge in Hendersonville. The event included a live and silent auction of more than 80 donated gifts ranging from handcrafted wooden bowls to a complete kayak package. The night also included a raffle drawing for a trip of the winner's choice! We are thankful for such a magnificent sunny day to get together. Participants had the option to join a pre-celebration hike around Grand Highlands, returning to enjoy hors d'oeuvres and refreshments and to peruse the silent auction items. The festivities continued with an outdoor live aution, a delicious catered dinner, and local live music. Families, friends, and pets enjoyed a beautiful sunset from Bearwallow Mountain.

Since 1994, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy has conserved more than 28,000 acres of land--made possible by our incredibly dedicated donors, members, and volunteers. It is only with this community that CMLC is able to protect and steward land and water resources vital to our natural heritage and quality of life, conserving this beautiful land for generations to come.

Click here to view pictures from the above Conservation Celebration Online Web Album


Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy permanently protects farmland, forests, and other natural resources through fee simple acquisitions, conservation easements, and other measures.  Our organization has several conservation properties that are intersected by some of Duke Energy’s Foothills Project study corridors—properties that would be severely negatively impacted by the construction and maintenance of transmission lines across them. The State of North Carolina has invested significant public dollars in these conservation properties through the NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF), which provided grants to cover transaction costs associated with closing conservation easements and to help our organization carry out perpetual stewardship of these properties. In addition, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources has certified an income tax credit for each of the potentially impacted easement donors. As a land trust, CMLC is obligated to defend the conservation values protected by our conservation easements and we will avail ourselves of any legal remedies available to us.

Furthermore, CMLC has several conservation projects in progress, as well as knowledge of other important natural resources, that are intersected by various segments of the study corridors. As a conservation organization that works throughout the study corridor region, CMLC is concerned about adverse impacts to significant natural resources that are likely to result from the construction and maintenance of the transmission lines on any of the study corridors. 

We have met with our local Duke representatives, in person, to discuss our conservation projects and other important natural resources that may be impacted by the proposed transmission lines and to share our geographic data with their personnel.  

Click here to read CMLC’s full comments to submitted to Duke during its public comment period.

For the past two years, Ann and Wayne B’Rells have directed a portion of the required minimum distribution from their IRAs to CMLC.  This tax-free transfer lowered their taxes because it excluded the contribution from their adjusted gross income.

IRA owners have been permitted to make tax-free transfers from their IRAs to charity since 2006, though Congress usually approves the provision one year at a time. That will most likely be the same for this year. 

Another very simple option is to name CMLC as a beneficiary of your IRA upon your death.  If you are charitably inclined, your IRA assets are the best possible assets to use to further the mission of your favorite non-profit organization.  Making CMLC a beneficiary of a portion or all of your IRA will create a charitable deduction for your estate and may save estate taxes.

Why not plan ahead to make the transfer?  Or consider making CMLC a post-mortem beneficiary of your IRA.  Contact your IRA administrator and provide them with our tax identification number (56-6449365) and address (847 Case St., Hendersonville, NC 28792).

ACT NOW to SAVE taxes and SAVE land.  Join the B’Rells and others who love the beauty and heritage of our region and wish to make its preservation a part of their estate planning and charitable giving.

“The natural landscape, mountain views, wildlife habitats, clean water and outdoor recreation are things we value greatly.  We are happy to support an organization that is working hard to preserve the things we love and need. We save on taxes and CMLC saves more land. That’s a win-win. ”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Wayne and Ann B’Rells

Yellow Ladyslipper Volunteers

Bob Carlson and Kim Chao

Four years ago, Bob Carlson and Kim Chao moved to western North Carolina and were excited to begin the Hiking Challenge, but Bob noticed that CMLC was too understaffed to quickly update the program’s online hike log. His call to complain resulted in an ask for his help to solve the problem. So, “I put my time where my mouth was,” Carlson said. This may be an unusual beginning, but it was well within character for these two former teachers and lifetime volunteers for a variety of causes. “It’s hard for me not to stop the car and pick up a beer can along the side of the road,” Bob says. “It’s a way of life.”

In addition to maintaining the Hiking Challenge hike log, Bob and Kim also monitor a section of trail at Florence Nature Preserve, keeping it clean and safe for visitors. For these avid hikers, this hardly feels like work. “We’re out in the nature that we love,” said Carlson. “The volunteering is not an aside from what we like to do; it is what we like to do.” They are especially passionate about getting people out into nature through trails. “We both feel like we’ve lived blessed lives,” Chao said, “and this is a way of giving back.” Even with a frustrating start, Bob says that their story has a happy ending: “I’ve never regretted making that phone call.”

We are proud to present Bob Carlson and Kim Chao with our Yellow Lady Slipper Award in appreciation of their dedicated service and commitment to CMLC.


In this issue:

  • New Mountain Bogs National Wildlife Refuge Established;
  • CMLC's 15th Annual Conservation Celebration;
  • 2015 Lela McBride Award Winners, Volunteers Honored;
  • Bob Carlson and Kim Chao: Yellow Lady Slipper Volunteers. 

AmeriCorps Project Conserve seeks dedicated individuals to fill 32 full-time positions serving conservation needs of western North Carolina. The program places service members with one of 17 host organizations working to protect the unique natural resources of the southern Blue Ridge Mountains. Each member will serve 1700 hours during an 11 month term, from September 2015 through July 2016. Activities include volunteer engagement, conservation education, creation/improvement of public trails, lands and rivers, disaster services and capacity building.

Application Deadline has been extended to June 19, 2015.

We are also pleased to announce that we have one NEW position with Organic Growers School. Please go to for more information and to apply. Contact Amy Stout with any questions at 828-697-5777 or

AmeriCorps Project Conserve is an Equal Opportunity Employer.  Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply.  Reasonable accommodations will be provided to individuals with known physical / mental disabilities.

HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. – North Carolina’s 24 local land trusts bestowed their annual awards on deserving winners during a lunch celebration at the land trusts’ annual meeting at the Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville on May 15th. The NC Land Trust awards are given annually to businesses, nonprofits, governments, and individuals who lead efforts to protect the state’s streams and lakes, forests, farms, parkland and wildlife habitat, thereby protecting clean drinking water and air quality, local food, and outdoor recreation.

Five years ago, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC) began pursuing a complement to our budding conservation efforts in the Hickory Nut Gorge: the development of an extensive hiking trail network that would provide public access to visitors seeking to enjoy these natural treasures as well as connectivity to enable them to traverse the ridges, hollows, and forests that link them together. This trail network—which has now reached nearly 10 miles in length—enables nature seekers of all abilities and interests the opportunity to enjoy our conserved lands, and ultimately make the connection between the importance of natural resource protection and public access and recreation. CMLC quickly discovered that public trails quickly increased the immediate relevancy and the direct tangibility of land conservation.

This trail network—and its incalculable benefit on land conservation in our region—would not be possible without the tireless efforts and dedicated service of the Carolina Mountain Club (CMC). Simply put, the CMC has put these trails on-the-ground. Since our initial partnership with the CMC on the Bearwallow Mountain Trail in 2010, to the completion of the Trombatore Trail linking conserved lands of CMLC and SAHC in 2013, to the extension of the Little Bearwallow Trail in 2015, the CMC has created—from scratch—the Upper Hickory Nut Gorge Trail and brought its planned 15-mile length to 66% completion. And they’re still just getting started.

To do this, the volunteers from the CMC donated an astonishing 5,563 hours to Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy. That is the equivalent of one volunteer building trail eight hours a day, every day, for nearly two straight years. And while their donated hours are impressive, the demanding nature of their selfless work is even more impressive. Volunteers endure extreme temperatures and challenging weather conditions all while carrying heavy tools in particularly rugged and steep terrain. Their work is mentally daunting, sometimes often dangerous, and always physically taxing. Bugs, snakes, poison ivy, falling rocks, dirt and mud, sweltering humidity to frozen ground, and long arduous hikes to the work sites—no obstacle is too much for the CMC in their pursuit of building trail to enable others—for generations to come—to enjoy our natural heritage and cherished conserved lands.

The CMC has defined selfless devotion to facilitating the enjoyment of our natural heritage among the community. Land conservation is more known, appreciated, and directly “touched” thanks to the immense involvement of the CMC in the Hickory Nut Gorge. And thanks to their hard work, the stage is set for much more of it to come.

For their incomparable, selfless contribution of time, effort, and energy to CMLC’s Upper Hickory Nut Gorge Trail network—as well as their ongoing steadfast stewardship to the trails they have created—the NC Land Trust Council and CMLC are honored to recognize the Carolina Mountain Club as the 2015 Community Conservation Partner of the Year.

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