Foothills Conservancy Adds 26 Acres to Smith Cliffs/Henry Fork River Preserve in Burke County

Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina has added 26 acres along the Henry Fork River in Burke County to its Smith Cliffs/Henry Fork River Preserve.

The addition of this tract brings the preserve’s size to 116 acres and connects the preserve lands to River Road, giving the conservancy better access for management. The tract is positioned between the Smith Cliffs/Henry Fork River Preserve and the conservancy’s South Mountains Headwaters Preserve.

“Protecting this property means that Foothills Conservancy now owns the access point to our preserve and the preserve itself is protected from directly adjacent development,” says Andrew Kota, associate director for Foothills Conservancy. “This land is also an important puzzle piece that brings us closer to connecting two of our conservancy preserves: the Smith Cliffs/Henry Fork River Preserve and South Mountains Headwaters Preserve. One of our goals is to create corridors of preserved public and private lands to benefit wildlife. Adding puzzle pieces between the two preserves works toward that goal.”

The purchase was made possible by a generous contribution of $100,000 from conservationist Tim Sweeney. Foothills Conservancy also used funds from its Land Acquisition Fund to cover transaction costs.

The property is mainly forested and also contains a 2.5-acre meadow, 650 feet of Henry Fork River frontage, and a tributary stream of the Henry Fork that empties into the river at the parcel’s northern boundary. Portions of the property also fall within the Smith Cliffs/Henry Fork Natural Area, which is a Registered Heritage Area with the N.C. Natural Heritage Program.

The tract is located in the Catawba River Basin, which more than two million Carolinians from Marion to Charlotte and downstream to Columbia, South Carolina rely on for their drinking water supply. The Henry Fork River is a major tributary of the South Fork Catawba River and the N.C. Division of Water Resources has designated the Henry Fork River as “Outstanding Resource Waters.”