Foothills Fête

This majestic view shows the South Mountains, where Foothills Conservancy has helped add thousands of acres to a state park and game lands. Photo by Wade Stubbs.

If you’ve ever coveted a sweet secret fishing spot in the Wilson Creek Wilderness Area, enjoyed a daredevil adventure in that other Broad River (not the much-used urban French Broad that runs through Asheville, but the wilder Rocky Broad in Rutherford County), or pondered your life’s purpose while absorbing the 75-mile view atop famous Chimney Rock, you might have the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina to thank.

For 20 years, the nonprofit regional land trust has worked cooperatively with landowners and public and private partners to preserve and protect significant natural areas of the eastern Blue Ridge Mountains and foothills, including watersheds, forests, and farmland. The Conservancy’s flagship land-protection project (and largest single project at 17,829 acres) is the Rollins Tract, which stretches across Cleveland, Rutherford, and McDowell Counties. Its purchase and transfer to the NC Wildlife Resource Commission created the South Mountains Game Lands in 1998.

Areas of the Green River and Hickory Nut Gorge are also under the Conservancy’s protection. But this Saturday, April 23, the activism will give way to revelry when the nonprofit celebrates an impressively styled “Twenty Years and 50,000 Acres” anniversary party at Camp Golden Valley. The rural retreat is a gorgeous scenic parcel all by itself, an outdoor event venue owned by nearby Defiant Whisky Distillery in Bostic (profiled last summer in Bold Life).

Expect spirit tastings and other refreshments, water sports on the resident lake, live music, and spring scenery you’ll never again take for granted.

Foothills Conservancy of North Carolinas 20th anniversary party, Saturday, April 23, Camp Golden Valley, 11am-3pm. Speech at 1pm. RSVP by this Friday, 828-437-9930 or

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