Undeveloped property will be urban oasis for Asheville

An eight-acre sanctuary of wooded beauty near downtown Asheville will be permanently protected from development thanks to a donation from CTNC.

We transferred the Falconhurst Natural Area to the city of Asheville this month in an agreement that will bar development of the site while allowing some improvements for public use, such as unpaved hiking trails and footbridges across tributaries to Smith Mill Creek on the tract’s eastern edge.

The property is named for the Falconhurst neighborhood in which it lies. It is a rare, unspoiled area of rolling hills and trees off busy Patton Avenue, just two miles west of downtown, and is adjacent to a city-owned property that will provide access. The undeveloped property has long been the focus of nearby residents’ efforts to preserve it in an unspoiled state and make it available for public enjoyment.

“The donation of the Falconhurst property is a great opportunity and example of partnership between CTNC and the city to preserve a significant natural area in West Asheville,” said Asheville Mayor Terry M. Bellamy. “I believe the property is an exceptional addition to our city and will become a popular attraction for area residents.”

The property was donated to CTNC in 1996 by Buncombe County. CTNC protected it from development, though it has not been open to the public. The Asheville City Council voted March 26, 2009, to accept the property from CTNC. In partnership with CTNC, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Asheville’s local land trust, will conduct annual monitoring of the property to ensure compliance with the deed restrictions.

“When we talk about conserving our natural treasures, most people think about huge parks, forests or rolling farmland,” said Reid Wilson, CTNC executive director. “Many city residents and their families love those places, but don’t have easy access to them. Increasingly, land trusts are helping to build healthy communities by protecting small pocket parks, such as this one, that are easy for all citizens to enjoy.”