On December 11, 2012, the Asheville City Council voted unanimously to strengthen the conservation easement that covers the city’s 17,000-acre watershed in the Black Mountains. This is an important step towards providing stronger permanent protections for the forested mountains and two reservoirs that comprise the watershed.

Since 1996, CTNC has held a conservation easement on the property to safeguard its spectacular conservation values. That easement was excellent for 1996, but we’ve learned a lot since then about how to ensure better land protection. That’s why over the last several months the city, CTNC, and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) have worked together to strengthen the agreement. The new draft easement strengthens permanent protections for drinking water quality, forest health, wildlife habitat, and scenic views along fifteen miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Among other things, the draft easement prohibits any commercial logging, ever, on the property.

The Asheville City Council (particularly Marc Hunt) deserves a great deal of credit for taking this positive action. We still have some I’s to dot and T’s to cross, but within a few weeks, we hope to have a brand new conservation easement approved by both the city and CTNC’s board of directors. We’ll keep you posted.