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Conservation purchase complete in McDowell

The North Fork Catawba River has 2,300 feet of frontage in the newly conserved property. Foothills Conservancy staff photo The North Fork Catawba River has 2,300 feet of frontage in the newly conserved property. Foothills Conservancy staff photo

A 38-acre conservation purchase on the North Fork Catawba River in McDowell County will add to the body of public land in Western North Carolina. 

The Foothills Conservancy bought the property with the intent to transfer it to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission for future public use as part of the Commission’s Wildlife Conservation Area Program. A $100,000 grant from Duke Energy’s Catawba-Wateree Habitat Enhancement Program aided the purchase, as did contributions from Brad and Shelli Stanback and another private conservationist. 

Directly across the North Fork Catawba River from NCWRC’s Pisgah Game Land, the purchase of this land ensures the protection of 2,300 feet of river frontage, on both sides, less than one mile upstream from the river’s confluence with Lake James. Because the North Fork Catawba is a known sediment input for Lake James, protecting this land from future development also enhances aquatic habitat in the lake by decreasing sedimentation.

Previous landowners and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, residents Dave Majka and Connie Eads bought the property about 15 years ago. Not long after purchasing the land, they learned about Foothills Conservancy and signed up as supporters of the land trust to learn more about conservation efforts in Western North Carolina.

The two are no strangers to land trust work, as Connie recently retired from her position as chief financial officer for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

“We originally thought this land would be a great candidate for a place to retire,” said Majka. “But when we decided to look at alternatives for the property, we knew conservation through Foothills Conservancy was the best solution. We would have hated to see someone develop it, and it is just too beautiful to keep to ourselves.”

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