The land trust bought the Clay County parcels from four landowners, paying a fair market value for the land surrounded on all sides by the Nantahala National Forest. A $500,000 pledge from environmental philanthropists Fred and Alice Stanback paid for most of the cost, but a successful fundraising campaign drew support from many local donors to cover the remaining $25,000 cost.
“We are excited the water quality of Laurel Creek flowing into Fires Creek will be protected and the Rim Trail rerouted so people can once again be able to enjoy that beautiful hike,” said Mainspring Director Sharon Taylor. “It is a win-win for everyone, especially the public, as it puts to rest years of controversy over the proposed road, and prevents possible future litigation.”
The parcels’ previous owners acquired this in-holding of the national forest in 2006, drawing criticism when they petitioned the Forest Service for access to build a road to their land. The property had also contained more than one-third of a mile of the popular Fires Creek Rim Trail before it was rerouted to bypass the private land.
The conservation purchase happened as Mainspring developed a positive relationship with the landowners, working out an agreement for purchase and raising the funds to complete it.
Mainspring currently holds title to the land but hopes to eventually transfer it to the U.S. Forest Service to become part of the Nantahala National Forest.