The mountain landscapes of western North Carolina remind us of our heritage, rich culture, beautiful scenery, and abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation. But these are just a few reasons we must protect our mountains.

Foothills Conservancy’s region is home to some of the oldest mountain ranges in the world. Hot spots of biodiversity, these mountains provide habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, including numerous endangered and threatened species. Forested slopes shelter clear mountain streams that are full of life. These headwater streams provide critical clean drinking water for millions downstream in both North and South Carolina. The mountains’ natural riches bring us economic, physical, and psychological benefit when responsibly managed.

South Mountains

The ancient South Mountains rise from the foothills just south of Morganton and encompass nearly 100,000 acres including portions of Rutherford, Burke, Cleveland, McDowell, Catawba and Lincoln counties. Photo by Aaron Dahlstrom.

Chimney Rock

When thinking of the natural wonders of western North Carolina, many people envision Chimney Rock. The towering spire rises from rocky cliffs and overlooks scenic Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure in western Rutherford County.

Blue Ridge Mountains

The Blue Ridge Mountains of the Southern Appalachian Range are one of the most majestic, frequently visited, and well-known natural wonders of the eastern United States. Formed nearly 300 million years ago, we have a responsibility to protect the eastern Blue Ridge Mountains, ensuring the range’s past and future are never lost. Four of Foothills Conservancy’s eight counties — Rutherford, McDowell, Burke and Caldwell — are home to the eastern slopes or escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains and give rise to the headwaters of the Broad, Catawba and Yadkin rivers.

Linville Gorge and Lake James

The picturesque views and clear mountain waters encountered during a visit to Lake James and the Linville Gorge National Wilderness Area are unparalleled in the Blue Ridge Mountains and Foothills region. Many of us visit, play, relax or live in the area, and it is hard to imagine a more beautiful place deserving of permanent protection than the lands surrounding Lake James and the Linville Gorge.