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Stanbacks donations will help preserve historic trail

Fred and Alice Stanback have joined Bill and Nancy Stanback, all of Salisbury, to help permanently preserve part of a centuries-old trail that played a role in the creation of the United States, a Conservation Trust for North Carolina press release said.
The Stanbacks “made generous donations” to help protect 1,488 acres owned in McDowell County, the Conservation Trust said in the press release, though it did not specify the amount they gave to help fund the $3.67 million project.
Also involved were the N.C. Natural Heritage Trust Fund, which provided $1.13 million; the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund, $868,000; the State Parks Trails Recreation Trails Program, $75,000; and the Conservation Trust, $1.6 million.
The National Park Service, the Altapass Orchard Foundation and Overmountain Victory Trail Association also provided assistance.
Under a deal completed with the state Sept. 4, a permanent conservation easement will protect the property from development and logging, while CSX will continue to own the land, operate the rail line, and pay property taxes, the press release said.
The Conservation Trust will manage the easement and monitor the property annually under an agreement with the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. Eventually, the public will have access to the land.
The property includes about 1.5 miles of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, the route followed by mountain militiamen during the American Revolution on their way to the pivotal Battle of Kings Mountain in South Carolina, the press release said.
The tract encompasses mountain views from Milepost 325 to Milepost 329.5 along the Blue Ridge Parkway, including some of its most popular overlooks. This kind of scenery, according to state data, is the strongest draw for tourism in North Carolina ó a $17 billion industry that employs 200,000 people, the Conservation Trust points out. The parkway alone attracts nearly 20 million visitors and contributes more than $2 billion to the regional economy each year.
“This agreement accomplishes so much more than lasting protection of a beautiful place. It safeguards drinking water for a million people downstream. It preserves uniquely American history and culture. And conserving the spectacular vistas and opening the Overmountain Victory Trail will boost tourism, providing jobs and a lasting economic benefit to local communities,” said Reid Wilson, executive director of the Conservation Trust for North Carolina.
This section of the Overmountain Victory Trail, the only National Historic Trail that passes through North Carolina, is not currently open to the public. The conservation agreement allows for improvements that will enable the public to hike the trail, and the trail will connect with another property recently protected by the Conservation Trust, the Rose Creek tract, so that there will be three miles total of new public trail access.
The property also connects critical habitat in the Pisgah National Forest to the Blue Ridge Parkway and other protected areas. The site contains all or part of two state Significant Natural Heritage Areas, with mature native forests. It also has more than seven miles of headwaters streams of the Catawba River that provide drinking water for more than 1 million residents in communities downstream and critical habitat to North Carolina’s declining trout population.
The Conservation Trust has been working for more than six years to protect this tract.

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