The news has been peculating through the internet all weekend and this announcement is from the Grandfather Mountain Website…
Grandfather Mountain To Become A Not-For-Profit Company
North Carolina Governor Mike Easley and Grandfather Mountain President Crae Morton today announced an agreement whereby the State of North Carolina will purchase approximately 2,600-acres of the Grandfather Mountain backcountry to become North Carolina’s 34th state park.
“The acquisition of this precious gem in our landscape speaks to North Carolinians’ love of this land and a sincere dedication to conservation,” Easley said.
Looking for new ways to guarantee that Grandfather Mountain will remain in its current state forever, the owners of Grandfather Mountain decided that the best way to protect the mountain and assure the public continued access to its peaks would be to convert the company to a 501c3, not-for-profit entity.
To accomplish this goal, Grandfather Mountain, Inc. is selling approximately 2,600 acres of the wilderness backcountry to the State of North Carolina for the purpose of a state park. This acreage is already under conservation easements with The Nature Conservancy.
Grandfather Mountain and the State will have a joint research/management agreement that allows Grandfather rangers continued access to the backcountry for research and to assist in trail maintenance.
Grandfather Mountain, Inc. will also sell to the State of North Carolina an easement on approximately 600 acres that include the Mile High Swinging Bridge, Nature Museum, Wildlife Habitats, summit road and MacRae Meadows.
This easement places legal restrictions on the new 501(c)(3) that allows the property to continue to be used as a nature park, but prohibits any future development that would change the character of the mountain as it exists today. The agreement further protects the atmosphere of the park by placing limits on any future expansion of the buildings and other man-made features at the travel attraction.
“This cooperation between North Carolina State Parks and the new non-profit organization allows for the complete protection and preservation of Grandfather Mountain,” said Morton. “Plus the new 501(c)(3) will have many new avenues to generate revenue to improve and expand the mission of preservation and education.”
Funding for the acquisition will come from the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund and the Natural Heritage Trust Fund. The acquisition was arranged with the help of The Conservation Fund and one of its directors, Mike Leonard, and The Nature Conservancy, which holds conservation easements on Grandfather Mountain and surrounding properties totaling close to 4,000 acres.
The owners of Grandfather Mountain took care to see that the agreement specifically covered public access to MacRae Meadows. All activities, events and programs that currently draw visitors to the Meadow such as the Singing on the Mountain and the Highland Games will continue as they have in the past.
The new not-for-profit company will continue to collect park admission fees that will be used to fund its mission: to conserve and protect Grandfather Mountain, and to educate and inspire its visitors.
I look forward to my next visit…And wish all involved the best moving forward.