Land acquisition for Headwaters forest passes halfway mark

Using government grants and private donations, the N.C. Forest Service and its partners have now acquired more than half of the land necessary for a new 8,000-acre state forest in Transylvania County.

The Forest Service was able to purchase another 1,018 acres in the East Fork of the French Broad River from former U.S. Rep. Charles Taylor in 2014, bringing the total acreage acquired to 4,229 acres.

“When we started this process (in 2013), we thought it would be a three- to five-year acquisition period,” said Assistant Regional Forester Michael Cheek. “In 2013-14, we’ve gotten over 4,000 acres, so I think we’re making pretty good progress.”

The sprawling landscape south of Rosman boasts roughly 25 waterfalls — including the 100-foot-plus Hidden Falls — along with 60 miles of high-quality streams, nine rare mountain bogs and habitat for several endangered or uncommon plants and animals.

The Taylor property is the largest undeveloped tract of private land in Western North Carolina and has ranked as a top conservation priority since the former congressman approached Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy about selling it in 2009.

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