How can you help protect and preserve our beautiful North Carolina mountains? There are many non-profits organizations that are doing amazing work in the Asheville area. Here are our top recommended ones that you could support through donations and memberships:
When it comes to safeguarding our special places, land trusts offer communities constructive, creative solutions. Since 1994, Conserving Carolina (formerly the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy) has permanently protected some 28,000 acres of land in Henderson, Transylvania, and neighboring counties. Read our feature about them.
Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy
The mission of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy is to protect the world's oldest mountains for the benefit of present and future generations. To this end, their volunteer-based organization works with individuals and local communities to identify, preserve, and manage the region's important lands. Founded in 1974 as a non-profit, charitable organization, the SAHC Conservancy has helped ensure the protection of more than 21,000 acres throughout the mountain region. Go to their Web site.
RiverLink is a regional non-profit spearheading the economic and environmental revitalization of the French Broad River and its tributaries as a place to work, live and play. Since 1987 we have engaged in simultaneous efforts to address water quality concerns throughout the French Broad River basin, expand public opportunities for access and recreation, and spearheaded the economic revitalization of Asheville's dilapidated riverfront district. Go to their Web site.
This new (created in 2015) group is dedicated to the well-being and betterment of the Pisgah National Forest, mostly the Pisgah Ranger District. They will provide funds to preserve the natural resources and scenic beauty and to enhance the recreational experience of visitors. Some of their efforts include removal of litter, construction and maintenance of trails and buildings, eradication of invasive species, improving the environment for wildlife and education. Read more about them.
Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
They assist the National Park Service in its mission to preserve and protect the Great Smoky Mountains by raising funds and public awareness, and by providing volunteers for needed projects. Read more about them.
Great Smoky Mountains Association
They support the perpetual preservation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the national park system by promoting greater public understanding and appreciation through education, interpretation, and research. Their stores in the park visitor centers benefits the park, including the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Go to their Web site.
Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation
The Foundation is the primary and professional fund raising organization for the Blue Ridge Parkway and funds only those projects and programs which add a margin of excellence to the park's mission, enhance the visitor's experience, and have a lasting value. Read more about them.
Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership
This nonprofit organization works to preserve, interpret and celebrate this heritage for the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike. The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area includes the Cherokee Qualla Boundary and 25 Western North Carolina counties. Visit them at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville. Read more about them.
Friends of Panthertown
They provide volunteers and raise funds for much needed conservation projects in Panthertown Valley in the Nantahala National Forest. They encourage environmental stewardship, volunteerism, and create public awareness. They work in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to conserve this outstanding natural resource while improving the quality and experience of recreational opportunities in Panthertown Valley. Go to their Web site.
Friends of DuPont Forest
This volunteer service organization works to enhance the public use and enjoyment of the DuPont State Forest while protecting its natural resources. Efforts include trail building, maintenance workdays, and building projects. Go to their Web site.
Mountain Voices works to preserve and protect the environment, including the natural beauty, abundant resources, quality of life and cultural heritage of area communities. They achieve their goals by working with local governments, developers, organizations and individuals to encourage responsible and sustainable development that is in the best interest of citizens, visitors, and future generations. They advocate to control overdevelopment; regulate steep slope construction; end ridgetop development; work to create a sustainable land use plan, including a Mountain Protection Act; and demand strict enforcement of environmental and development ordinances. Go to their Web site.
Appalachian Voices brings people together to solve the environmental problems having the greatest impact on the central and southern Appalachian Mountains. Their mission is to empower people to defend the region's rich natural and cultural heritage by providing them with tools and strategies for successful grassroots campaigns. Because the threats to the area mountains do not respect state boundaries or political ideologies, they tackle them by reaching out to a broad spectrum of people from across the region. They are member-based and promote individual and community involvement in the important environmental decisions facing their neighbors. They believe that success is most likely when a diversity of people are involved and empowered to work together for change, and all their programs are guided by this commitment to build a broad base of public support for environmental protection in the southern mountains. Go to their Web site.
Environmental and Conservation Organization
ECO is dedicated to preserving the natural heritage of Henderson County and the mountain region through education, recreation, service and civic action. Seeking to think globally and act locally, they work to preserve and protect streams and wetlands, wildlife and natural habitats, air, and trees. Go to their Web site.
People Advocating Real Conservancy
People Advocating Real Conservancy (PARC) is a citizen group dedicated to keeping watch on government action related to land use in Western North Carolina and other issues that affect the public good. Alarmed by overdevelopment, lack of planning and enforcement by local governments, and the rapid loss of mountain land, a broad coalition of groups began organizing in summer of 2006 to SAVE OUR SLOPES. They are calling for a Pause to Plan: a moratorium on large-scale, ridgetop, and steep slope development to give local people control over the future of our communities.