Foothills Conservancy Protects History and Headwaters with 93-acre McDowell County Acquisition

Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina has acquired a 93-acre tract in the Dysartsville Township of eastern McDowell County that permanently protects important headwaters of Cane Creek and a piece of Revolutionary War history.

The property, known as the Melton Tract, adjoins the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission’s South Mountains Game Lands to the west, and U.S. Highway 64 to the east. Foothills Conservancy will eventually transfer the property to the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission, thereby connecting existing state game lands to U.S. Highway 64.

fcnc_melton-tract-map_12012016“This project really exemplifies the fact that this region, and in this particular case the South Mountains, offers so much opportunity to meld the protection of our natural and historic resources for public benefit,” said Andrew Kota, Foothills Conservancy stewardship director. “Not only has this acquisition protected important watershed lands at the headwaters of Cane Creek, it has also preserved an area of Revolutionary War significance. And when the property is added to the adjoining South Mountains Game Lands, we plan to partner with the N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission to develop a point of public access with educational and interpretive information about the ecological and historic values of the South Mountains.”

The property contains 3,500 linear feet of Cane Creek and tributaries within the Broad River Basin, and more than 500 linear feet of a tributary stream of Magazine Branch in the Catawba River Basin. Both are significant river basins for recreation and drinking water in the region.

The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail passes through the middle of the tract. Foothills Conservancy has hired an archeologist with funding from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program to locate the Cane Creek Battlefield site where a 1780 Revolutionary War skirmish occurred. The archeologist has discovered that the Melton property is situated within the boundary of the Cane Creek battlefield, and will be recommending that the battlefield be nominated for the National Register of Historic Places as a significant historic battlefield related to events of the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War in general, and the Overmountain Victory Campaign specifically.

The acquisition was made possible by a generous contribution of $350,000 from Fred and Alice Stanback and a $13,000 grant from the Conservation Trust for North Carolina’s Mountain Revolving Loan Fund Mini-Grant Program.