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Catawba conservation purchase to become part of new trail system

Former pasturelands spread over much of the property. Foothills Conservancy photo Former pasturelands spread over much of the property. Foothills Conservancy photo

A 68-acre conservation purchase in Catawba County is expected to become part of the planned Wilderness Gateway State Trail, which is intended to meander thorugh Catawba and Burke counties and along the Rutherford-McDowell county line. 

The Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina bought the property from landowners Becky and Wayne Welch, who were intersted in selling. It is made up of woodlands and former pasturelands near Finger Bridge along the Jacob Fork River. 

The conservancy will transfer the property to N.C. State Parks, which will manage public river access for paddling and fishing. A canoe launch is planned as well. In addition to providing recreation, the purchase will protect the drinking supply for the town of Newton. Funding for the purchase came from N.C. State Parks and a private contribution, with grant funding from The Beaver, Unifour and Duke Energy also aiding the effort. 

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