The installation of trail way for horseback riding is also included in the proposal for the mountain.
The proposed change, which would allow either-sex hunting on the property, is just one of many currently on the table for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission in 2010-11. The commission is currently in the process of acquiring the 1,800 acre property for entrance in the Game Lands Program which was made possible through a conservation easement of the property. A hearing for this and other changes in wildlife and hunting was heard at Mt. Airy High School on Thursday, Jan. 14 in the auditorium.
The towering 5,000 foot mountain is located in the upper northwest corner of the county and provides direct views of Mount Jefferson, Three Top Mountain, Bluff Mountain, Elk Knob, Whitetop Mountain, Mount Rogers, and Grayson Highlands in Virginia. Pond Mountain’s conservation project began when a longtime local Christmas tree farmer, Dale Shepherd, passed away leaving his share of the business to his foremen. Due to a hefty inheritance tax and the threat of end of the tree company along with some jobs, the foremen contacted the National Committee for the New River while brushing off developers who wanted to develop the land and had no interest in the trees. Through the conservation and the state’s purchase of the mountain, the owners could save the trees, as well as jobs,until the business ran its course and the trees were harvested.
The NCNR later contacted the Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust to get the ball rolling for the mountain’s conservation. In 2007, the BRRLT received a pledge of $1.3 million from a private donor and was granted $2.5 million from the Natural Heritage Trust Fund in April 2008. Altogether, $7.5 million came from HTF. Funding in the amount of $1.3 million also came from the Foundation for the Carolinas. Then in November 2008, BRRLT received a promise for the last part of the $14 million project from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund.
Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust works to “Preserve Rural Communities and Culture in Northwestern North Carolina through the protection of the land resource upon which they depend.” BRRLT is a private, non-governmental, non-profit corporation whose mission is to assist landowners in the protection of their property, primarily through conservation easements. BRRLT practices grass-roots conservation, being primarily landowner driven in its approach to land protection.
For more information, visit www.brrlt.org