All the water there will be, is. — (Anonymous)
Fresh water is an increasingly critical natural resource, and its protection is central to Foothills Conservancy’s mission of land conservation. Development both impacts and depends upon the streams and rivers of the eastern Blue Ridge Mountains and Foothills. As North Carolina’s population expands and the state’s economy grows, additional pressures will affect the availability of and access to clean water.
Three major rivers – the Catawba, Broad and Yadkin – begin in the mountains of Foothills Conservancy’s region. These rivers provide crucial supplies of clean water to millions of North and South Carolinians. It is therefore essential that we protect their vital headwaters. Most of our protection projects have focused on lands sheltering the springs, creeks and streams that feed these three rivers. Since 1995, we have protected tens of thousands of acres of Catawba and Broad River watershed lands in the South Mountains, above Lake James, along the Linville River, in Pisgah National Forest near Old Fort, along Wilson Creek and in the Hickory Nut Gorge. Along the Yadkin River, we have protected scenic farms and completed a conservation plan for its headwaters.
- Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains just east of the Eastern Continental Divide, the Catawba River begins near the Town of Old Fort in western McDowell County.
- The Broad River basin encompasses 5,419 square miles within North and South Carolina. Its three major tributaries are the Green, the Second Broad, and the First Broad rivers.
- The Yadkin River is one of the longest rivers in North Carolina, flowing 215 miles across the state’s center. Beginning near the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Thunder Hill Overlook, it flows southeast becoming the Pee Dee River at the confluence with the Uwharrie River.