Thanks to The Nature Conservancy, Chimney Rock State Park just got bigger. The Conservancy recently transferred 536 acres to the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation. The Nature Conservancy has been responsible for the initial protection of 3,574 acres of the 6,200-acre park located primarily in Rutherford County.
“Thirty years ago, the whole area was unprotected,” says Fred Annand, the Conservancy’s Director of Conservation Resources. “Given the burgeoning second home development that has occurred in the region, many important natural areas could have been lost, but that’s been largely avoided. Most of the protected land has been transferred to the state parks system, so anyone can visit this special place.”
The property, in several parcels, was transferred to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation with the help of the state Parks and Recreation and Clean Water Management trust funds and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, according to Director Mike Murphy. By connecting existing parcels of state park land, the acquisitions will provide a land base for future trail development and protect high-quality natural areas.
“The Nature Conservancy took a leadership role among our partners in helping to create Chimney Rock State Park in 2007,” Murphy said. “Indeed, as we celebrate the state parks system’s centennial in 2016, we’re mindful of the Conservancy’s long-term commitment to helping create and expand many of our state parks.”
The Conservancy first acquired property in the area in 1984, when Margaret Flinsch donated property at Bat Cave to the organization. Today, the Conservancy owns and manages the Bat Cave Preserve, which includes North America’s largest granite fissure cave, but the rest of its work in the area has been directed at growing the state park. Among those places protected by the Conservancy is Rumbling Bald, a part of Chimney Rock State Park that is popular with rock climbers.