Conservancy adds scenic land to Lake James State Park

The conservation community and North Carolina State Parks officials Friday celebrated the addition of 41 acres of a scenic farm to Lake James State Park, property that will help protect water quality in Paddy’s Creek and buffer the park’s growing trail system.

Old farm structures will be used by brewery; land in background will be added to Lake James State Park.

The Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina hosted the dedication ceremony at the Whippoorwill Dairy Farm, a Burke County landmark. The conservancy announced in March that it had partnered with Morganton-based Fonta Flora Brewery to acquire the property, and will donate the bulk of the farm to the state park. Fonta Flora will use the remaining eight acres and its stacked stone buildings to create a farmhouse brewery.

“Foothills Conservancy has long been an effective partner in conservation and the development of North Carolina State Parks in this region,” said Mike Murphy, state parks director. “This project at the Whippoorwill Farm is another example of its tenacity and professionalism, and will enhance land protection, water quality and recreation opportunities at Lake James State Park.”

Funding for the acquisition included a challenge gift of $172,000 from conservationists Fred and Alice Stanback of Salisbury requiring a two-to-one match. That was met with a $210,475 N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund grant, a leadership gift from George and Ann Costello of Nebo, and other private donations. A grant from Conservation Trust for North Carolina’s Mountain Mini-Grant Program completed the project’s matching funding.

Susie Hamrick Jones, executive director of The Foothills Conservancy.

“Permanent protection of the Whippoorwill Farm is a wonderful success story made possible by our state’s commitment to clean water and by visionary private donors who understand the value of protecting our waters and beloved scenic and historic heritage places for generations to come,” said Susie Hamrick Jones, Foothills Conservancy’s executive director.

The farm’s backdrop is the beautiful scenery of Shortoff Mountain, the Linville Gorge Wilderness, and Pisgah National Forest. The land added to the state park also contains an important piece of American history: a segment of the National Park Service’s Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail.

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