WAYNESVILLE, N.C. – The Blue Ridge Parkway’s spectacular protected landscape will grow by 110 acres with the donation and sale of property owned by a man who remembers seeing the scenic highway constructed through his family’s land.
Joe Arrington sold a 64-acre parcel to the Conservation Trust for North Carolina in April and, in June, finalized the donation of an additional 46 acres in Haywood County, near Parkway Milepost 440. CTNC plans to convey the combined property, called the Richland Creek Headwaters tract, to the National Park Service for inclusion in the Parkway’s boundary.
The preservation of the property is particularly timely this year, as the Parkway marks the 75th anniversary of the start of its construction. Arrington’s family first bought their land in 1936, before Parkway construction reached their area. Thirty of the family’s 188 acres were condemned and used for the road project; the area is now the site of Pinnacle Ridge Tunnel.
“It’s especially appropriate that CTNC and Joe Arrington completed this agreement this year, as we celebrate the Parkway’s 75th anniversary,” said Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent Phil Francis. “Mr. Arrington was here when the Parkway began, and he and his family have many happy memories of their time spent in these beautiful mountains.Now, generations of families will cherish their own Blue Ridge Parkway memories thanks to his generous gift.”
During those early years, a young Joe Arrington and his friends often explored the construction site on horseback. After his 1963 marriage, he and his wife liked to bring their children to a stream overlooking the Parkway. His continuing affection for the region’s scenery and peacefulness led to his decision to protect it forever.
“Even the locals appreciate it and enjoy the place where you get away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy the cool mountain air,” Arrington said. “It isn’t something you see once and say, ‘Been there, done that.’” The Richland Creek Headwaters tract provides a spectacular backdrop for Blue Ridge Parkway travelers – especially from the Waynesville and Saunook overlooks – near the boundary of Haywood and Jackson counties in the Great Balsam Mountains.
The land lies between Nantahala and Pisgah national forests and near the 32,000-acre Ron Taylor Memorial Forest, and a mere 12 miles east of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Most of the headwaters tract lies within the Pinnacle Ridge Significant Natural Area. Its position adjacent to and near other protected properties will help safeguard wildlife habitat in the region as well as water quality; Richland Creek flows from the property through Waynesville and into Lake Junaluska.
“Joe Arrington has done a wonderful thing,” said CTNC Executive Director Reid Wilson. “He’s made sure that this beautiful land, visible from two Parkway overlooks, will remain natural forever, ensuring clean-running streams, intact wildlife habitat and gorgeous vistas.” The purchase and costs for the donation – a total of $542,358 – were funded by a donation from Fred and Alice Stanback of Salisbury, and grants from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the Pigeon River Fund.
Two other land trusts that work in the region – Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and Land Trust for the Little Tennessee – have partnered with CTNC on previous land protection projects in the vicinity but were not involved in this transaction.
The Conservation Trust for North Carolina assists, promotes and represents North Carolina’s
24 land trusts, which have protected 326,850 acres in more than 1,880 places across the state. It also is dedicated to protecting the Blue Ridge Parkway’s natural and scenic corridor. CTNC has
protected more than 30,000 acres in more than 40 locations along the Parkway. North Carolina land trusts preserve land and water resources to safeguard your way of life. We work in local communities to ensure critical lands are protected for clean drinking water, recreation, tourism and working farms and forests.
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