In 2012, LTLT (Land Trust for the Little Tennessee) worked with the Town of Andrews and the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund to conserve the town’s 930-acre watershed. This recent conservation is a continuation of LTLT’s hard work to conserve municipal watersheds in Western North Carolina. Over the past several years, LTLT has worked in conjunction with local, regional and state government agencies to conserve 11,500 acres of municipal watershed land in Andrews, Bryson City, Murphy, Sylva and Waynesville. LTLT worked with the Southwestern Commission Regional Council of Local Governments to conserve the watersheds, and in the case of the Town of Waynesville’s watershed project was a partner with other regional groups including the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC), the Conservation Trust of North Carolina (CTNC) and Western Carolina University’s Forest Stewards, Inc. (FSI).
Paul Carlson, Executive Director of LTLT notes of the projects, “There is no greater conservation priority than the protection of the clean water that flows from these mountains. To this end a decade ago LTLT began to focus on headwater protection with critical support from the NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund. Over that time we are proud to have worked with Bill Gibson of the Southwestern Commission and the municipalities of Bryson City, Sylva, Waynesville, Murphy and Andrews to conserve their watershed lands. Besides protecting the future of clean water, together these projects have ensured the continued, unscarred beauty of significant portions of the Great Smokies, the Balsams and the Snowbird Mountains.”
In the case of many of the watersheds LTLT wrote grant proposals to acquire funds from the State’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund. Grant funds were combined with matching funds so that each town could permanently conserve the watershed tracts, which are now under conservation easements held by the state. The easements allow each town to maintain the title to its land, give municipalities the option to draw on their water resources now or again in the future and in some cases allow for other forms of non-detrimental public use while protecting the land and water resources for future generations.
Bill Gibson, recently retired Director of the Southwestern Commission says of the projects: “The community-based effort to save the 4,400-acre Needmore Tract in Macon and Swain Counties provided my initial opportunity to partner with LTLT. That achievement taught me that Paul Carlson and the LTLT organization are incredibly able and resourceful. After Needmore we partnered to permanently conserve the Town of Bryson City’s retired municipal watershed, followed by Sylva, Murphy, Andrews and Waynesville. All told LTLT has been vitally instrumental in permanently conserving five of this region’s municipal watersheds (two active and three retired).”
Conserved Watershed Figures