On October 17, CTNC submitted comments to the National Park Service (NPS) in support of a proposed land exchange between NPS and the Town of Blowing Rock. NPS had opened an official comment period to receive public input. The comment period deadline was October 21. Thank you to those of you who sent in your own comments!

In 2001, CTNC purchased the 192-acre Johns River Gorge property adjacent to Moses Cone Park. The tract contains healthy forests and wildlife habitat, and a beautiful hiking trail along the pristine waters of China Creek, but a developer had shown interest in building homes on the land.

The town of Blowing Rock and CTNC worked together to secure a grant from the NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund so that the town could purchase the property from CTNC in 2003. Not far away, NPS owns a 20-acre property that contains Blowing Rock’s drinking water supply reservoir. For years, NPS and Blowing Rock have been working together to trade the properties so that NPS can add the Johns River Gorge tract to the Parkway’s official boundaries and Blowing Rock can own and manage its reservoir.

Federal land exchanges are complicated, which explains the decade-long process. An act of Congress was required; in 2010 Congress passed the law and President Obama signed it. If all goes well, the land exchange will take place in late 2012 or early 2013.