Grants from the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership and the Pigeon River Fund at the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina — worth $16,000 apiece, for a total of $32,000 — will fund the planning process, and the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation will help facilitate it, as well as contribute an additional $4,000.
The Asheville-based environmental planning group Equinox is currently working with several groups, including the National Park Service, to create a vision plan. Equinox will gather biological, natural resource and cultural resource data to understand the property’s existing condition, and then land conservancies and community groups will be invited to a stakeholders meeting in September. As planning progresses, there will be opportunity for public comment. The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation will help facilitate conversations with communities and stakeholders towards a comprehensive plan.
The acreage in question was protected by a coalition of environmental organizations over a period of years and then turned over to the Park Service in 2016. The Conservation Fund gave 2,986 acres, The Nature Conservancy gave 1,654 acres, the Conservation Trust for North Carolina gave 370 acres and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy gave 319 acres.