Scenic byway lands to get protection

North Carolina’s land trusts, including the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee and Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, have for a second time received federal funds to conserve land and protect views from 20 of the state’s scenic byways, including the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The Federal Highway Administration’s National Scenic Byways Program recently awarded $2.7 million to a collection of 10 land trusts and the Conservation Trust for North Carolina.

Land trusts will use the new grant funding to build on a 2006 Scenic Byways grant, which helped land trusts develop conservation plans along 25 Scenic Byways in North Carolina. The 2011 grant will pay to implement elements of those plans, such as outreach to landowners regarding conservation efforts and acquiring property and conservation easements.

Scenic drives to receive conservation funding include the Cherohala Skyway, Waterfall Byway and Nantahala Byway in the western most counties.

Conservation planning funds have been awarded for the Forest Heritage in Haywood and Transylvania counties and Whitewater Way spanning in Jackson and Transylvania counties.

“North Carolina is renowned for its scenic drives, from the Outer Banks Scenic Byway to the Sandhills Drive and Pottery Road in the Piedmont to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which by itself welcomes 16 million to 17 million visitors a year. We must protect the breathtaking natural landscapes that bring people to these regions,” said Acting Executive Director Margaret Newbold of Conservation Trust for North Carolina.

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