About Backbone Ridge and How You Can Help
In the heart of Grandfather Mountain, Julian Price, Moses Cone and the Pisgah National Forest, four miles from the center of Blowing Rock, lays Backbone Ridge. It consists of 754 acres and is in the center of these four parks. From these 754 acres, trails lead to Grandfather Mountain to the West, Julian Price Memorial Park to the North, Moses Cone Memorial Park to the East and the Pisgah National Forest to the South. The trail systems originating from this land extend to the Wilson Creek Trails, the Mountain to the Sea Trail, and hundreds of miles of countless trails within the contiguous fifty thousand plus acres of preserved forest lands adjacent to these tracts.
This 754 acres of land consists of fourteen parcels of contiguous acres mostly wrapped by Pisgah National Forest. Backbone Ridge and Pisgah National Forest share 9.6 miles of common boundary. Next to Blowing Rock and adjacent to these four parks, Backbone Ridge has many waterfalls, and Racket Creek full of native trout. There are more than 57,000 feet of streams and 584 Acres of Riparian buffers (find more information on the importance of riparian buffers (PDF)).
This gateway to four major parks and their protected land is directly in the view shed of Blowing Rock, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Grandfather Mountain. Backbone Ridge is the next ridge system over from Grandfather Mountain followed by the Globe. It is the extension of the rim that creates the Blowing Rock view shed into the Globe and beyond and has similar views to Hanging Rock as one looks to the south.
The Caldwell County Natural Area Inventory has noted areas, within this property, along Racket Creek, as one of the best examples of Acidic Cove Forests in the state, and best Montane-Oak Hickory and Chestnut Oak Forest in the region, due primarily to the remnant “old growth” patches present. The U.S. Forest Service timber base records indicate that large portions along these Racket Creek slopes have not been timbered or selectively harvested since the early 1800’s. Rare plant species such as the Blackstem spleenwort (Asplenium resiliens), Lesser rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera repens), and turkey-beard (Xerophyllum asphodeloides) have been identified here. A total of 398 acres of land has been designated as a Significant Natural Heritage Area of which approximately 50% of the studied area lies within this tract, with the remaining in the adjacent Pisgah National Forest.
As this is the last remaining privately owned group of tracts, totaling more than 750 acres of land, within the entire Blowing Rock area, it has become a parcel that has already attracted several developers interested in a building a second home community. More than 300 home sites and its amenity package has already been approved by Caldwell County within this property as a Planned Unit Development (PUD).
Because of its significance in location to protected areas and the designation by the Caldwell County Natural Area Inventory as a “Significant Natural Heritage Area”, it is being looked at by those wishing to protect and preserve its natural beauty. There are no other privately held tracks left like it in this area and its significant role as the center of vast protected properties, carry this property to a need of the highest level of attention.
Save Backbone Ridge is working in partnership with The Conservation Fund to ensure the long-term conservation and protection of this land. The Conservation Fund recently acquired the first phase of this property from the current owners and is working with Save Backbone Ridge to secure public and private funding for this first phase as well as subsequent phases. Upon completion, the Backbone Ridge property is expected to be owned and managed by the State of North Carolina and the U.S. Forest Service. North Carolina Division of Forest Resources and the US Forest Service have put Backbone Ridge at the top of their priorities for conservation. The North Carolina Division of Forest Resources has applied for grants from both the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the Natural Heritage Trust Fund for its acquisition. However, both of those needed funds have limited resources due to our recession. To date they have not been able to commit funding for this property.
Save Backbone Ridge and its partners have initiated a campaign to highlight the importance of Backbone Ridge and to raise awareness about the need to conserve this vital property in perpetuity. It will take large public interest and even some private money to make saving this property a reality. Should we be able to raise the needed funds and required public awareness, it is our hope that we will be given a high priority from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the Natural Heritage Trust Fund. If so, limited funds may be directed to the present grant proposal submitted by the North Carolina Forest Service and approved.
In reality, it is up to those who wish to band together to save this property. We must act now to protect this significant Natural Area, Backbone Ridge. We are asking you to donate funds in any amount you feel possible to The Conservation Fund. Additionally, we will ask you to carry the message to others of the opportunity to save this property and the significant risk should we not act. Please contact your Representatives and Senators and ask for their support. Thank you for your attention to this most valuable opportunity.Email This Page