From the Open Space Institute:

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Raleigh, NC -January 13. 2009 - With support from a $3.7 million loan from the Open Space Institute, another significant segment of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail in western North Carolina will soon be open to the public with the Conservation Trust for North Carolina’s (CTNC) purchase of a 538-acre property on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

CTNC is one of the larger regional land protection organizations in OSI’s Southern Appalachians focus area, and it has successfully protected 30,000 acres along the Blue Ridge Parkway corridor.

The Rose Creek property has more than a mile of frontage on the Parkway and is visible from The Loops Overlook. It contains about 1.5 miles of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail (OVT), which traces the route taken by colonial militia to the pivotal battle of Kings Mountain during the American Revolution. This segment of trail, which has not been accessible to the public, will now be open to hikers.

The acquisition also protects over five miles of the Rose and Little Rose creeks, strongly advancing the North Carolina State Wildlife Action Plan. Rose Creek, Little Rose Creek and the North Toe River are trout streams as designated by NC Division of Water Quality.

The Rose Creek property includes 353 acres of stream buffers, encompassing more than 1.5 miles of Little Rose Creek and its associated tributaries and almost a mile of Rose Creek and associated tributaries. Rose and Little Rose creeks are major headwater tributaries of the North Toe River, which supplies drinking water to the town of Spruce Pine.

“We are pleased to have helped CTNC with the protection of the Rose Creek property,” said Peter Howell, OSI’s executive vice president.

“The project will help protect an important part of North Carolina’s mountainous heritage, for both wildlife and people. By helping to implement North Carolina’s State Wildlife Action Plan, the project helps to focus scarce public and private dollars on what is most important to protect.”

“Protection of the Rose Creek property marks one more step toward the conservation of an entire area that is critical for wildlife and water quality protection, as well as for recreation in the protection of a nationally significant historic trail,” said Reid Wilson, executive director of CTNC.

Because of its high level of conservation, the Rose Creek project was awarded an acquisition grant from the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF). OSI has successfully bridged CWMTF grants with other partners in the past, including the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy.

“Development of long-distance trail projects like the Overmountain Victory Trail in North Carolina is not only essential to the protection of water quality,” said Richard Rogers, executive director of CWMTF. “These trails play an important role in protecting our state’s economy by increasing recreational opportunities in their respective communities and enhancing the quality of life component that is critical for economic development. CWMTF is extremely happy to be involved in this effort.”

The property will be turned over to the state for permanent management and public recreation.

"The acquisition of this important piece of property is another great example of how dedicated partners can make a significant, long-lasting contribution to the protection of our American heritage,” said Phil Francis, superintendent of the National Park Service’s Blue Ridge Parkway unit. “The views from the Blue Ridge Parkway are important in many ways and, thanks to some very special people, they will now be always protected."

OSI’s Southern Appalachians Protection Fund, funded by the Lyndhurst, Benwood and Z. Smith Reynolds foundations, was created to help accelerate the protection of wildlife habitat throughout the Southern Appalachians—a 40 million-acre ecosystem that is home to the richest biodiversity in North America. Since 2005, the Open Space Conservancy, OSI's conservation finance affiliate, has invested $12.4 million in conservation in the region, leading to the protection of 6,164 acres to date, including 2,845 in North Carolina.

CONTACT:

Marc Hunt, Credit Manager
Open Space Institute 
www.osiny.org