North Carolina’s Mountain Treasures
Help Protect the Vulnerable Wildlands of the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests

Asheville Citizen-Times: “Conservation groups win grant to support Pisgah-Nantahala forest planning”

by Karen Chávez (view the full article online)

The multi-year Nantahala and Pisgah National Forest Management Plan revision, a multi-year project which kicked off earlier this year, just got a little conservation boost.

The Western North Carolina Alliance and The Wilderness Society have won $45,000 in Preserving Natural and Cultural Resources Focus Area from the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.

The grants will allow the conservation groups to build regional engagement in the U.S. Forest Service planning for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. Preserving Natural and Cultural Resources is a focus area for the Foundation, which serves 18 WNC counties.

“The new forest plan will dictate the management direction for the highest mountains in eastern North America,” said Tara Scholtz, CFWNC Senior Program Officer.  “These mountains provide drinking water for millions of Americans and are a global hotspot for biodiversity.  A solid plan is important to our local economy and will impact the experience for millions of visitors.”

The Forest Service is in the beginning stages of revising the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests under a new forest planning rule, which is more ecologically driven than its predecessor and emphasizes ecosystem services, cultural resources, landscape context and protection of special areas. It also places great weight on community collaboration.

The Asheville-based WNCA received $30,000 for a three-pronged approach of scientific research, public engagement and citizen volunteerism.  WNCA will analyze and characterize current forest conditions using state-of-the-art conservation planning tools, engage citizens in the planning process and train volunteer “Forest Keepers.”

The Sylva-based The Wilderness society’s $15,000 grant will be used to engage Tom Hatley, a facilitator dedicated to environmental work, to lead a community-based collaboration for the plan revision. TWS laid groundwork for this collaborative process over the last three years by publishing North Carolina’s Mountain Treasures, a consensus-based proposal outlining the need for permanent protection of 330,000 acres of wildlands.

The Community Foundation focuses discretionary resources on People in Need, Early Childhood Development, Food and Farming and Preserving Natural and Cultural Resources. It facilitates $11 million in charitable giving annually.  For more information, visit

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