Conservancy adds 28 acres to Valle Crucis natural area

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Article Published: Jun. 13, 2013 | Modified: Jun. 13, 2013
Conservancy adds 28 acres to Valle Crucis natural area


Blue Ridge Conservancy has added 28 acres to Bear Paw State Natural Area in Valle Crucis.

With elevations reaching 4,800 feet, Bear Paw SNA contains mature hardwood forests and the headwaters of Dutch Creek.

In May 2013, through a contribution from Fred and Alice Stanback, the N.C. Natural Heritage Trust Fund and the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, BRC and the state were able to purchase the 28-acre tract from David Wray of Blowing Rock. Blue Ridge Conservancy purchased more than 200 acres from Wray in 2008 and 2009 to help establish Bear Paw.

“My family entrusted me to develop these 200-plus acres responsibly and preserve as much as possible in its natural state,” Wray said. “My grandfather spent his career with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh and has authored several North Carolina bird books, as well as studies on microscopic insects. He was a lover of plants and animals. I am very pleased my family’s wishes and dreams have come true.”

Bear Paw State Natural Area is approximately 385 acres and does not contain public facilities at this time. However, public access areas, including picnic areas, trails and other recreational opportunities, will be developed in the future.

Superintendent Tracy Minton of Elk Knob State Park manages Bear Paw SNA.

“The acquisition of additional acreage at Bear Paw SNA will further protect rare flora and fauna to include the federally endangered Virginia big-eared bat,” Minton said. “I greatly appreciate the efforts of the Wray family and Blue Ridge Conservancy in securing this precious resource for future generations.”

Providing public access to Bear Paw SNA is critical for BRC, whose mission is to permanently protect land and water resources with agricultural, ecological, cultural, recreational and scenic value.

“Protection of this property expands Bear Paw SNA and provides a valuable public asset for outdoor recreation opportunities in the High County,” said Walter Clark, executive director of BRC. “Despite the economic downturn, Blue Ridge Conservancy’s success at Bear Paw leaves the organization optimistic about future of land conservation in North Carolina.”

Blue Ridge Conservancy is a private, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization incorporated in North Carolina that works with willing landowners and local communities to permanently protect land and water resources with agricultural, ecological, cultural, recreational and scenic value. BRC has protected close to 17,000 acres in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey counties.

For more information, visit http://www.blueridgeconservancy.org.

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