Keeping the doorstep green: Canton likely to receive 448 acres for outdoor rec

  If all goes as planned, Canton, NC will soon have a 448-acre park for hiking, mountain biking and other outdoor recreation activities just a mile from town limits. The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy hopes to close on the property, known as the Chestnut Mountain Tract and currently owned by Canton Motorsports LLC, within the next couple months.

“It’s amazing what’s going to happen, not just for quality of life and economic development, but also at the end of the day we preserve 450 acres which could have been developed by who knows what,” Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers said during a town meeting.

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy has been working on the purchase for much of the past year, applying for grants and working with donors to pull together the funds needed to buy the property outright. In September, the land trust was awarded $1.2 million from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, with the Pigeon River Fund of the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina contributing $25,000 with a grant announced in November. However, it wasn’t until last week that the land trust publicly announced the project, following a $150,000 N.C. Department of Justice Environmental Enhancement Grant.

It is the intent of the town with assistance from Haywood County and with some of the other partners to turn this into a major outdoor recreation venue concentrating on mountain biking, hiking, & walking. The property has some topography, but it’s not crazy steep — elevation varies between a low of 2,365 to a high of 2,555.

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