South Mountain State Park

Preserving South Mountains: South Mountains Game Lands, North Carolina

location photo
location photo
location photo

Acting Entity: Foothills Conservancy of NC
Contact Person: Susie Hamrick Jones
Cost: $14 Million
Population Served: 67,855

Water Supply: First Broad River, City of Shelby, Cleveland County Sanitary District

PWS ID: 0123010, 0123055

Helping Organizations:
· NC Wildlife Resources Commission
. North Carolina chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
· North Carolina Land and Water Fund
· Natural Heritage Trust Fund
· Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation

Funding Sources:
· $5 million from a Special Appropriation by the NC General Assembly
· $4.2 million from North Carolina Land and Water Fund
· $2 million from NC Natural Heritage Trust Fund
· $1.15 million from NC Wildlife Resources Trust Fund
· $1.5+ million from private donations

· Impetus for action was broad public concern and support for protecting the large 17,829-acre Rollins tract; its biodiversity and significant natural areas; and the watersheds of the First Broad River.
· Project used grassroots and local outreach to raise awareness, support and funds.
· Land was strategic for acquisition because it was adjacent to the existing South Mountains State Park and contained most of the headwaters of the First Broad River, a water supply for Cleveland County.

Summary: South Mountains Game Lands, also known as the Rollins Tract, and surrounding South Mountains State Park are popular recreational areas for North Carolinians and the game lands comprise a major portion of the Broad River watershed. Development and intensive land use in these areas would negatively impact the quality of drinking water for Cleveland County. Additionally, the Rollins Tract is ranked as a nationally significant natural area by the NC Natural Heritage Trust Fund and protection of this land was deemed imperative. A large part of the South Mountains was already protected as public parkland and public watersheds (South Mountain State Park and Morganton Broughton Hospital).

However, one large tract of about 18,000 acres, known as the Rollins Tract, was privately owned and had been sold to an out-of-state timber development company. Upon learning this, local citizens and the general public became concerned about the possibility of intensive clear-cutting and development, and this concern led to the formation of the Foothills Conservancy. The land trust initiated a grassroots outreach campaign to build public support and raised almost $14 million to acquire the land in partnership with the NC chapter of TNC. In the spring of 1998, TNC acquired the land on behalf of the partnership and immediately conveyed the tract to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission to be managed as public wildlife lands. The Rollins Tract is one of the largest conservation acquisitions ever achieved in North Carolina.