Blue Ridge Forever nears goal of protecting 50k acres Work on Tiger Woods first course resumes

Published 12:31 pm Friday, October 1, 2010

Blue Ridge Forever, a coalition of nine land trusts, may soon surpass its five-year goal of protecting 50,000 acres in Western North Carolina. The group says it expects to reach 58,000 protected acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains by the end of this year.

During the past five years the land trusts have acquired 345 parcels that range in size from 1 to 2,770 acres. Blue Ridge Forever says it plans to close on 30 more properties in the next three months. The land trusts report that more than $150 million has been provided through public grants and private donations and landowners have donated $196 million in cash and property value.

The Blue Ridge Forever coalition consists of Blue Ridge Conservancy, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, Conservation Trust for North Carolina, Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina, Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust, Land Trust for the Little Tennessee, National Committee for the New River, Pacolet Area Conservancy and Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.

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Officials say Blue Ridge Forever has protect valuable natural resources at a time when they are increasingly under pressure. Developed land in the southern Blue Ridge mountains has increased by 77 percent over the past two decades, according to Blue Ridge Forever.

The coalitions acquisitions have included the 996-acre Chimney Rock park, which became a state park in 2007. The group also has protected 125 farms, including 70 working farms.


Friends of the Ecusta Trail, a proposed rail trail between Hendersonville and Brevard, have launched a website describing plans for the rail corridor. The group proposes a multi-use hike and bike greenway along 18 miles of the railway corridor.

Friends of Ecusta Trail says the greenway would have the added benefit of connecting communities in Henderson and Transylvania counties on recreation, active transportation and economic development efforts. The group currently is raising funds to complete an economic impact study for the trail. For more information visit


Construction has resumed at The Cliffs at High Carolina, the first golf course designed by Tiger Woods in the U.S. The developers recently reached an agreement with environmental groups to reduce the courses impact on trout streams. The course, located near Asheville, will be a little shorter and walks between greens and tees will be a little longer. However, The Cliffs at High Carolina is expected to remain a walkable, mountain course, as Woods intended. Woods says he looks forward to visiting the course soon to check on construction.

The Cliffs developers recently contacted the Southern Environmental Law Center, Western North Carolina Alliance and Trout Unlimited to discuss the best ways to mitigate the impact on trout streams. The new course design is expected to impact only 1,655 linear feet of streams, about half of the impact of the original design, and provide increased protection for other streams. The environmental groups have dropped their challenge to the construction permits for the course, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2012.


The 25th Annual Music in the Mountains Folk Festival will be held this weekend in Burnsville. The festival, created to help preserve traditional mountain music and culture, will take place on Saturday from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Burnsville Town Center. Participants in the festival, presented by the Toe River Arts Council, take pride in learning from the old timers and honoring their songs, stories and musical styles.


North Carolina is ranked in the top 10 of states with the most potential for economic development through energy-efficiency policies. The Center for American Progress and Energy Resource Management puts North Carolina 8th on its list, which is topped by Connecticut, California and Maryland. North Carolina is the only Southeastern state in the top 10. The center, a national think tank and energy-investment firm, evaluated each state using multiple criteria, including the cost of electricity, the regulatory environment, renewable-energy policies.

North Carolinas relatively low electricity rates gave it a low ranking on electricity costs since the center expects states with higher rates will have more incentive to adopt energy-efficiency policies. However, North Carolina scored high in other areas. The center touted Duke Energys Save-A-Watt program, and noted that North Carolina is the only state in the Southeast with a renewable-energy portfolio standard, which sets a minimum requirement for renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects. The Center for American Progress and Energy Resource says such public policies are needed to help encourage investments from the private sector. The center also promotes programs, such as energy-efficiency retrofits for buildings, to both save energy and create economic development opportunities.


Santee Cooper is planning to construct three $50 million renewable energy plants in South Carolina that will produce energy by burning wood waste. The first plant in Dorchester County is expected to begin producing biomass fuel in late 2012. Each of the plants, which will burn virgin timber residue, are expected to produce 15-megawatts and create 20 jobs.&bsp; Santee Cooper also has agreed to purchase 50 megawatts of renewable biomass-fueled energy from Domtar Papers mill in Marlboro County.&bsp; The agreement, along with the new plants, will significantly boost Santee Coopers renewable energy program. The company also produces 22 megawatts of renewable energy from landfill methane gas.


The City of Fayetteville has implemented a new vehicle idling ban to reduce fuel costs. The city expects to save about $220,000 annually by prohibiting city vehicles, such as buses, police cars and pickups, from idling for more than five minutes in any one-hour period. The new rule also applies to city employees own vehicles used for city work, and city employees are no longer allowed to use drive-throughs at banks, restaurants and other businesses. Police and fire vehicles responding to emergencies are exempt from the new idling ban.

The city estimates fuel consumption will decline by 64,000 to 91,000 gallons per year under the new policy. North Carolina previously instituted a similar 5-minute idling ban for private-sector heavy trucks.

With the city of Fayetteville tightening up on idle reduction for city vehicles, and the state adopting their new rule, our community is moving in the right direction to address environmental concerns, said Jerry Dietzen, city environmental services director.


The South Carolina Budget and Control Board has put a moratorium on construction at colleges in the state that raise tuition by 7 percent or more. The moratorium is expected to impact Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina, The Citadel and the College of Charleston among others. Construction will be halted unless the universities agree to repeal their recent tuition increases to 7 percent or less. The moratorium does not impact the University of South Carolina, which raised its tuition by 6.9 percent this summer. The moratorium is a victory for Governor Mark Sanford who has said tuition increases have been excessive. Median tuition increased 150 percent in the state between 1999 and 2009.


TIMCO Aerosystems, one of the largest providers of aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul services, is planning a passenger seat manufacturing facility in Wallburg, N.C. Over the next five years the company plans to invest $2.75 million in Davidson County and create 275 jobs with an average wage of $34,728. TIMCO already employs 1,182 people in Greensboro.

We undertook a comprehensive assessment of various locations around the country for the expanded facilities, said Kevin Carter, Co-CEO of TIMCO. At the end of the day, the impressive partnership of the Governor, the state legislature, the North Carolina Department of Commerce, North Carolina Community Colleges, Davidson County and the Town of Wallburg, recognized the opportunity before us and really worked hard with our team on a compelling plan to take advantage of something that doesnt come along frequently in the aerospace industry.

North Carolina provided a $200,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund to help facilitate the expansion.