Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina has secured a time-sensitive purchase option for a 660-acre property in the Oak Hill community of Morganton, which is contingent on raising a total of $3 million.
Located just ten minutes from downtown Morganton, the 660-acre parcel features forests, prime agricultural land, several miles of streams, and scenic views. Conservation of the property would ensure protection of these features, as well as the water quality of Canoe Creek, a direct tributary that flows into the Catawba River behind Freedom High School.
The property has many potential future benefits for the Burke County community including connections to the Morganton Greenway and Fonta Flora State Trail, independent hiking and biking trails, community supported agriculture, forest restoration, outdoor education and community events. These potential uses will be further examined once the property has been purchased for conservation.
The conservancy held a public meeting on March 14 at Oak Hill United Methodist Church to inform the community of the opportunity and gauge interest. Nearly 75 people attended the meeting in an overwhelming show of support for the project.
The purchase option expires later in 2019 and Foothills Conservancy is considering options for raising the $3 million required. To this end, in February the conservancy submitted a grant application for $1.2 million to the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund for the project.
“In addition to applying for grant funding, we have secured one lead gift of $250,000 and we are seeking additional pledges from donors who are interested in making leadership gifts to the project,” said Andrew Kota, executive director of Foothills Conservancy. “Once we’ve secured these initial gifts, we plan to ask the broader community for matching donations, and we will continue to seek public and private grants to reach our goal. A partnership with local government, Burke County, and the City of Morganton, is going to be crucial for raising some of the acquisition funds and also for later developing the property as a public recreation asset.”
The conservancy encourages the community to reach out to city and county officials to express their support for the project and maintain the momentum. Guidance on this process can be found at www.foothillsconservancy.org/oakhillpark.
“As Morganton urbanizes, it’s important to set aside land for parks and trails to help our communities thrive,” said Tom Kenney, land protection director of Foothills Conservancy.
The conservancy is planning to lead guided tours of the property for the public in the coming months.
To learn more about this project, and how you can support the effort, visit foothillsconservancy.org/oakhillpark or contact Andrew Kota at 828-437-9930.