The Cannon Foundation, based in Concord, North Carolina, awarded a $50,000 grant to Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina on December 18 to help the land trust transfer a 208-acre property adjoining the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Bear Den Overlook (milepost 323) into public ownership.
The Bear Den property borders 1.7 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway and is part of the scenic vista from the popular Bear Den Overlook. The project includes conservation of rare natural areas, diverse habitats, and mountain headwater streams important to the downstream drinking water supplied by the Catawba River.
Foothills Conservancy purchased the property in September 2016 with funding from the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund, a contribution from conservation philanthropists Fred and Alice Stanback, and a loan from the Conservation Trust for North Carolina. The conservancy has until September 2018 to pay off the loan used to purchase the property. Once the loan is paid off, Foothills Conservancy will donate the property to the National Park Service for addition to the Blue Ridge Parkway system.
With funds raised to date, including a matching $50,000 contribution from conservationist Tim Sweeney, the remaining loan balance is $90,000.
Foothills Conservancy is actively fundraising for this project and welcomes private donations to help satisfy the outstanding debt. Gifts will be restricted to the Bear Den project and may be made online at foothillsconservancy.org or by mail to PO Box 3023, Morganton, NC 28680.