News & Events: News

Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy is seeking applications for the full-time position of Conservation Easement Manager. Find the full job description and application instructions linked here:

Conservation Easement Manager

The Conservation Easement Manager is responsible for stewarding CMLC's conservation easements, including annual monitoring and legal defense of CMLC's conservation easements, and for supporting the completion of new conservation projects. 

CMLC is a local non-profit working to create and actively care for a regional network of permanently protected farm, forest, parks, natural lands, and water resources in Henderson, Transylvania and parts of neighboring counties. Since 1994, the organization has permanently protected more than 30,000 acres among the Blue Ridge Mountains, French Broad River watershed, and Hickory Nut Gorge including more than 6,000 acres in conservation easement. 



Learn about Hemlock Restoration and CMLC! We now have a page dedicated to hemlock restoration and the biological control of the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. Read about what hemlock restoration entails and how CMLC is involved in this important effort. You can find the page here or by clicking the "Hemlock Restoration" page listed under the "Landowner Resources" button within the navigation bar at the top of this page. 

Click here or on the cover above to read the full volume

In this issue:

  • Leaving a Legacy of the Land: Honoring the Life of Ruth Jones
  • Welcome New AmeriCorps Project Conserve & Board of Trustee Memebers
  • Yellow Lady Slipper Volunteer Award: Howard McDonald 
  • Get Involved with CMLC: Calendar of Events

By Beth De Bona
Times-News Staff Writer

Published: Thursday, December 3, 2015 at 12:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 3, 2015 at 9:01 a.m.

Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy has been awarded $100,000 in grant monies from Duke Energy for its Sitton Creek Protection and Restoration project in the Mills River watershed.

CMLC was one of 13 nonprofit organizations in North and South Carolina to receive portions of the $1 million earmarked for 2015 from Duke Energy's Water Resources Fund. The recipients were announced Wednesday by Duke Energy.

“We're excited to receive the Duke Energy grant for our Sitton Creek project,” said Kieran Roe, executive director of CMLC. “The grant will help protect and restore the quality of the Mills River watershed, a source of drinking water serving hundreds of thousands of users in Henderson and Buncombe counties in North Carolina.”

This is the first grant CMLC has received from Duke Energy, which established the fund in September 2014 with eight seed grants; 15 inaugural grants were distributed in March.

CMLC's project is based along the Sitton Creek tributary, located north of the North Mills River. The project is designed to protect water quality and will additionally expand public access to the area by adding 178 acres to Pisgah National Forest.

Roe said the added acreage is a key component to the project, as it will connect an outparcel of forest to the main body of the National Forest.

The project also includes planning for protection of about 150 additional acres, comprising acreage on each side of Sitton Creek that would be placed under conservation easements.

“If everything comes to pass as we hope, then this grant will allow us to protect acreage around Sitton Creek,” said Roe.

Duke Energy has committed to a $10 million, multi-year commitment for its Water Resources Fund. It aims to support nonprofits in their work to “protect and improve the environment, including waterways used year-round across the Carolinas and neighboring states,” according to a news release.

Recipients are selected by an independent body that includes five environmental experts and two Duke Energy employees. Twenty-three projects in the region are already benefiting from the fund.

“Local organizations are vital to protecting waterways across the Carolinas,” said Shawn Heath, vice president of The Duke Energy Foundation and Community Affairs. “Already, we're seeing good things happen due to this fund, including a new nature preserve that recently opened in Wake County and a streambank that was restored in Watauga County. These are projects that will have a lasting impact on the environment for decades to come.” 

Reach De Bona at or 828-694-7890 

Read about graduation and the end of last year's service term in AmeriCorps Project Conserve's Leaflet Newsletter. See where the new 2015-2016 class of AmeriCorps members are serving and learn about the Project Conserve events that are making a difference throughout western North Carolina.

You can also check out the Project Conserve 2014-2015 Impact Report, which displays the goals and exceeding results of the last AmeriCorps term. 

AmeriCorps Project Conserve is a national service program in which members come from across the nation to dedicate themselves to serving Western North Carolina for an 11 month service term. Project Conserve was founded in 2004 as an initiative of Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC) to respond to the growing conservation needs in western North Carolina. The program focuses on collaboration with nonprofit organizations, community groups and local governments to provide service throughout the region. Find out more by visiting the Project Conserve website.

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.

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