87 Acres on French Broad River in NC Protected

An 87-acre former sod farm on the French Broad River in Mills River could be the site of a new floodplain restoration, similar to the nearby Mouth of Mud Creek restoration. The property was recently protected with the support of savvy private investors who are using their money for conservation.

In December 2020, Conserving Carolina purchased the King’s Bridge property, named for the bridge on Highway 191 over the river. The land now presents an opportunity for wetland restoration or possibly a public access boat ramp on the river.

“This property lends itself well to both things,” said David Lee, natural resources manager for Conserving Carolina.

A restoration on the site would expand the ecological comeback begun at the Mouth of Mud Creek, just 2.1 miles upstream. Last summer, Conserving Carolina completed this 103-acre restoration, which provides important habitat for the muskellunge—or muskie, our largest native fish—and many other kinds of wildlife. It was a story about this project in the Asheville newspaper that sparked interest in King’s Bridge for some private lenders, who ultimately made the land acquisition possible.

On the horizon for the Kings Bridge property is a potential transfer to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, which will ultimately decide the best path for the property. There is no design plan in place yet, but Lee says there is potential for one muskie slough, or a possible wetland restoration. The land corridor is along the official state paddle trail on the French Broad, which means any cleanup will be beneficial for paddlers.

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