Brewery-conservancy project will add land to Lake James State Park

A creative collaboration by the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina and an area brewery will expand Lake James State Park and provide additional protection for Paddy’s Creek, a principal tributary of the lake that flows through the park.

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Paddy’s Creek enters Lake James within the state park.

The conservancy announced it has purchased a 40-acre portion of Whippoorwill Diary Farm, a scenic landmark on NC 126 in Burke County, and will donate the land to the state park later this year. Morganton-based Fonta Flora Brewery has purchased the adjoining eight acres of the former farm and plans to restore the stacked stone buildings to create a farmhouse brewery. (More on the brewery’s plans here.)

The farm’s setting is near the crossroads community of Fonta Flora with views of Linville Gorge, Shortoff Mountain and Pisgah National Forest, and property that will be added to the park is along the route of the historic Overmountain Victory Trail that connects to the park’s trail network.

“This property will be a valuable addition to Lake James State Park, and just as valuable are the community partnerships we’ve been able to forge in developing this park,” said Mike Murphy, state parks director. “The collaboration of the Foothills Conservancy and Fonta Flora Brewery is a great example of creative thinking for conservation.”

“Permanent protection of the Whippoorwill Dairy Farm is a wonderful success. It’s one of the most historic and scenic sections of the landscape around Lake James,” said Andrew Kota, Foothills Conservancy stewardship director. “Adding most the farm to Lake James State Park will extend protection and public access along Paddy’s Creek.”

Funding for the land purchase included a challenge contribution of $172,000 from Fred and Alice Stanback, which required a two-to-one match. The match was met with gifts from George and Ann Costello, Mike and Betsy Blair, Javier and Yngrid Chacon, Andy and Bridgette Davis, Joseph and Katherine Lagedrost, Dan and Lisa Oberer and Charles and Jerelen Ohrt. Grants from the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the Conservation Trust for North Carolina’s Mountain Mini-Grant Program completed the project funding.

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