OUR MISSION: To protect and conserve natural resources with emphasis on the lands and waterways with scenic, ecological, and agricultural significance in the North Pacolet and Green River watersheds.

THE VISION: A community living and growing in harmony with our natural heritage.

Welcome to the Pacolet Area Conservancy website!

Through the varied conservation tools at its disposal, PAC has helped protect over 8,606.689 acres of our area’s valuable natural resources. PAC holds conservation easements on 60 protected properties. PAC owns 25 properties. PAC is responsible for monitoring 68 easements annually, 6 of which are held by the state of North Carolina and one which is held by The Nature Conservancy. PAC is responsible for monitoring a total of 4,826.74 acres annually to make certain that the terms of the conservation agreements are upheld.

Great News for Conservation in 2015!


The Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC) is continuing to offer grants of up to $25,000 to help NC landowners protect their land and waterways with a voluntary conservation easement in 2015!  Click here for more information.

Memorial Planting of Rare, Potentially Blight-resistance American Chestnut Trees in Polk County!

On Saturday, February 7 at 11:00 a.m., The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) directed a memorial planting of four potentially blight-resistant American Chestnut trees at Harmon Field in Tryon, NC, as well as four American Chestnut trees at the PAC protected Norman Wilder Forest. This planting is a living memorial to Mara Smith, local photographer and writer, who died February 5, 2014.

This is a partnership between Ford Smith & family, The American Chestnut Foundation, Harmon Field/The Town of Tryon, and the Pacolet Area Conservancy.

by Bob Bruce_10

Tom Saielli of the American Chestnut Foundation planting the first American Chestnut tree at Harmon Field. (photo by Bob Bruce)

Click here to hear Tom Saielli, Southern Regional Science Coordinator for the American Chestnut Foundation, summarizes the purpose and importance of reintroduction efforts by the Foundation and the public.

Spring Hiking Series begins February 20th!

April 3, Pisgah National Forest, Summey Cove trail, 5.3-miles, moderate/strenuous, out & back.

April 17, PAC protected property along the Green River, approximately 4-miles, moderate, loop.

Saturday, April 18, celebrate Earth Day with PAC & Foothills Humane Society (FHS)! Ashmore Heritage Preserve, Mountain Bridge Passage & Lake Wattacoo trails, 4-miles, moderate, lollipop. Walk a shelter dog or bring your dog (on a leash). Contact Dana Mayer, 828-243-1852, for information about walking a shelter dog.

May 1, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Smokemont trail, 6.5-miles, strenuous, loop.

Participate in a “Hiking Challenge!” Complete six of the seven hikes this spring and receive a custom bumper sticker acknowledging your accomplishment!

Click here for more information

    Upcoming Events at Walnut Creek Preserve!

April 25th – Zora Rhodes, formerly a Conservation Education Specialist for the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, will present on “The Re-introduction of the Peregrine Falcon to Western North Carolina.”  (more to come)

peregrine falcon

May 16th – Don Surrette will present on the efforts to create a blight resistant American Chestnut tree, of which an estimated four billion were destroyed by Chestnut Blight in the early 20th century.


June 27th – Biologist, Bill Boone will speak about bears and bear reproduction.


July 11th – Charlotte Caplan will be presenting on Mushrooms!


August 29th – “Predator/prey Relationships in Western North Carolina” presented by North Carolina Wildlife Resource Officer, Toby Jenkins.

Toby Jenkins_3

September 26th – Larry Mellinchamp, author of “Native Plants of the Southeast: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best 460 Species for the Garden.


October 31st, Tim Spira, a professor of Biological Sciences at Clemson University and author of “Wildflowers and Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont” (2011) and his new book “Waterfalls and Wildflowers in the Southern Appalachians” (2015), will present, “The Magic of Waterfalls and Wildflowers in the Southern Appalachian Mountains.”


For more information about these programs, click on this link to go to the Upcoming Events page of this website.

PAC/WCP programs are made possible, in part, due to a grant provided by Delores Lastinger  

Gil's slide

PAC’s December Newsletter is now available!
Dec newsletter

Click here to download the newsletter!

Historic Land in the Township of Tryon Forever Saved

Beryl and Pam in front of family photosBeryl Dade pointing to some of her family pictures.

Beryl Hannon Dade is a walking history book.  She exudes a love of family, heritage, and the land she lives on and cares for.  She recently worked with the Pacolet Area Conservancy to permanently protect the land from any future development.

The Property is part of the original Scriven lands.  Oren Hannon, who purchased the first parcel from the Scrivens, had a connection to the original Hannons on his paternal side.  Oren’s maternal side was connected to the Cherokee.  The original Hannons were some of the earliest settlers of the Tryon area.

William Hannon, Sr., the original Hannon to settle in Tryon, was born in 1731 in Frederick, Virginia, married and then settled in North Carolina by the 1760s.  He was the father of a large family, and in 1776 William and all but three of his children were killed by Cherokee Indians. One of his sons, Edwin Hannon (1766-1825) married Caroline Earle and was the father of twelve children. Elizabeth Carruth Hannon, widow of William Hannon, Jr. (1805-1848), acquired Lucinda by a will, dated 1850, from her mother, Mary Logan Carruth. Green Hannon may be the former slave of Thomas Edwin Hannon (1790-1868).  The 1870 census states that Green Hannon (born in Alabama) and wife Lucinda (born in North Carolina) were the parents of John Richard Hannon, father of Oren Hannon, father of Beryl Hannon Dade.  Oren Hannon bought the land in 1924.  Today, their descendants live all over the country, but Beryl remains in Tryon.

Dade began talking with PAC in 2007 about placing a conservation easement on her land.  She continues to own the land and use it as she always has, but now she has the peace of mind of knowing that the land will forever be protected with its native plants and wildlife.  She says, “Working with PAC was the perfect choice for me so that my children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, will be able to enjoy the land and know about the heritage that is here.  My parents would be very proud!”

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) works with willing landowners who wish for their lands to be permanently preserved.  The Dade land’s historical significance is not the only reason for protection.  PAC Director of Stewardship and Land Protection, Pam Torlina, says, “The land is special for many reasons.  It is a mixture of hardwoods and conifers and provides habitat for a variety of flora and fauna.  It is also in close proximity to other PAC protected properties, which makes it additionally attractive to us.”

PAC is a proud member of the Conservation Trust for North Carolina, Blue Ridge Forever, and The Land Trust Alliance (LTA), whose standards and practices guide the work we do.  PAC will be going through a national accreditation process with LTA next year and we are hard at work assembling evidence and enacting sound policies to achieve this distinction.

To date, PAC has protected 60 properties through conservation easements. Additionally, 25 parcels of land are owned by PAC in fee simple, bringing the total of protected lands to over 8,500 acres, creating a treasury of mountains, rivers, streams, farmlands, forests and greenspace  – land that will be forever preserved.

The Pacolet Area Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit land conservation organization founded in 1989 to protect and conserve the area’s natural resources. PAC works with area landowners to ensure the long-term protection of their property through voluntary conservation easements (agreements) which enable landowners to maintain ownership of their property, preserving precious natural resources – open lands, forests, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, farmland, stream banks, and more.

PAC – saving the places you love.

Beryl and Pam outsideBeryl Dade standing with PAC’s Pam Torlina on her family land, land that she wants to see preserved for her children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Click here to read the Tryon Daily Bulletin article.

The Goats at the Town of Tryon lot near IGA have left for the year

On September 29th, Wells Farm delivered a crew of 20 Kiko goats, and an Anatolian Shepard, Moses, a guard dog, to the 2-acre Town of Tryon lot near IGA.  Their goal?  To eradicate Kudzu (and other non-native and invasive plants) growing on the property.

In 2013, the Pacolet Area Conservancy, in partnership with the Town of Tryon and the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, received a grant from the Polk County Community Foundation through their Kudzu Eradication Initiative.  This grant is being used to fund the use of goats to eradicate Kudzu from this site.  These goats will be working on the site twice a year, for three consecutive years.  This is their second year on the job.

The goats, and Moses, were on the site for nearly a month…see the impact they had below!

end of year 2 comparison
Click here for more information about this project.

PAC announces trail closure

With great sadness, the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) is announcing that the Weaverbarton Shuford Memorial Wildlife Sanctuary trails will be closed to the public as of August 31.

Since the passing of Robert Shuford in 2011, the land has been managed by the executor of the estate.  Although the conservation easement, protecting the property in perpetuity, allows for private and public nature trails, it does not require the owner to keep the trails open.

PAC is hopeful that the trail system will be re-opened in the near future and regrets the current situation and loss of this beautiful, much enjoyed, public natural area.

PAC is working hard to find a conservation buyer for the property who will re-open the public hiking trails, but it is very early in that process.

A long beloved property

Helen Shuford, Robert Shuford’s mother, loved her home in Columbus and its surrounding acreage of pastures, woods, and meadows.  She also had a profound love of birds.  Upon her husband’s death in 1965, she decided to donate her property to the Carolina Bird Club (CBC) as a memorial to her husband and as a sanctuary for birds and other wildlife.

For more than 30 years, CBC used the property for annual Christmas bird counts and for educational excursions.  The initial generation of bird club members took an interest in the property, and they built trails and used the property annually for bird watching, bird counts, and nature walks.

In 1998, a year after Mrs. Shuford’s death, CBC made plans to sell the 82-acre property.  Robert Shuford, who lived in the family home adjacent to the CBC property, was devastated to learn of CBC’s plans to sell the “protected” property.  Due to its location in Columbus, he feared that the land would be sold for development, destroying his mother’s intentions and wishes for the land, “that the property remain an island of green.”  

Mrs. Shuford never intended for the land to be sold or developed.  Therefore,  Robert Shuford made a generous offer to purchase his family land from CBC, taking on a great financial burden, and spending a great deal of time arranging for the family farmstead to be preserved forever as a wildlife sanctuary with a public trail system.  Robert dreamed that the land would be used forever by nature and bird lovers, honoring his mother’s wishes.

In 1999, CBC agreed to sell the land to Robert Shuford with the understanding that a conservation easement, granted to PAC, would be placed on the property, protecting the land as a wildlife sanctuary forever.  Indeed, a conservation easement was placed on the property the very same year and runs with the land, protecting it in perpetuity, as not only Mr. Shuford, but his mother intended.

Early in 2006, at the request of Robert Shuford, PAC began to establish walking trails on the property to make the land accessible to the public for bird watching, plant and tree identification, water study, animal track identification, and the general enjoyment of hearing the sounds of the wind in the trees and water running in the streams.

In October 2007, PAC held the official opening of the Weaverbarton Shuford Memorial Wildlife Sanctuary trails.  It was a wonderful celebration with more than 50 community members, Mr. Shuford, PAC staff and volunteers, and several county commissioners in attendance.

This trail system was not only an important link in the trail system in this part of the county, but it also allowed for easy access to the public from the Town of Columbus.  It provided 2-miles of hiking trails, including three loops, a self-guided nature trail, allowing visitors to learn about and appreciate their surroundings, and in 2009, it was accepted as a site along the North Carolina Birding Trail.  The trail system also adjoined the St. Luke’s Tom Raymond Fitness Trail and linked to the Isothermal Community College hiking trail, offering visitors a variety of hiking options.  Finally, the Shufords’ dream had been realized. 

PAC will work hard to find a conservation buyer who will re-establish the intentions and purposes for the land in fulfillment of the Shufords’ dream for it and for our community.

Volunteers Ford Smith & Alan Leonard help PAC remove the trail signs from the Weaverbarton Shuford Memorial Wildlife Sanctuary, as per the request of the executor to the estate.

PAC’s Pam Torlina Discovers a New Plant Species for Polk County!


Follow this link to read the full story.

PAC is pleased to announce that we have received a grant from the Polk County Community Foundation for our Kudzu Eradication Initiative!

We can always use more volunteers for this worthy cause!

Click here to visit our tab about Kudzu eradication projects in the area.

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) is pleased to announce a recent gift from Pacolet Milliken Enterprises, Inc. The generous award will be used in support of PAC’s mission to protect and conserve the natural resources of our area. PAC extends grateful thanks to Pacolet Milliken Enterprises for their support.


PAC is in need of tools to help us continue our stewardship efforts!If you happen to have tools lying around that you are no longer using and you would like to donate them to PAC, we would greatly appreciate it!

On our “wish list”:

-chain saws

-weed whackers

-brush saws



-work gloves

-eye and ear protection

-push lawn mower

Do you know of a sensitive area that is scheduled for clearing and contains a lot of beautiful, native plants? Contact PAC! We would love the opportunity to visit the site and, perhaps help rescue the native plants there!

For information on Voluntary Conservation Easements (Agreements), click on the link below to download the latest in depth publication, Voluntary Conservation Agreements: An Introduction for North Carolina Land Owners, or contact the Pacolet Area Conservancy for a printed version.


Click here to download the 3 MB pdf: Voluntary Conservation Agreements: An Introduction for North Carolina Land Owners


Contact us to get information about how protecting your property may qualify you in for FEDERAL TAX BENEFITS!  And how preservation of your land can set the standard for our area’s conservation efforts.

Visit us to SEE A MAP showing where your property fits in the landscape of permanently protected land in the area, and/or see where your farm fits into protected land in Horse Country!

If you’d like to see a 10 MINUTE VIDEO about protecting our horse country, featuring interviews about how Virginia’s Piedmont Environmental Council protected their vast Horse Country, just drop in or contact PAC to for details on how you can watch or borrow our “Saving Horse Country” DVD.

PAC works not only with landowners, but also with other land trusts, state and federal agencies to accomplish conservation goals. PAC also endorses the North Carolina Wildlife Action Plan, or SWAP, which encourages the preservation of wildlife through habitat conservation.