In 1991 a small group of activists and ecologists, led by local schoolteacher Mary McDaniel, fought to save a piece of land along Mountain Island Lake from being developed. The success of that endeavor lit a spark that has grown over the past 30 years into the Catawba Lands Conservancy. From a group of folks meeting around a dining room table, the Conservancy has now grown into a respected and successful local land trust. In fact, last year the Conservancy hit a new milestone: over 17,000 acres of land protected across six counties in the Carolina Piedmont.
After incorporating as a nonprofit in ’91, the Conservancy officially protected its first property, the Catawba Wildflower Glen, in 1995. This special 19-acre property is one of the richest areas of biodiversity in Mecklenburg County, and lies within the Mountain Island Lake watershed. Home to some native plants that are rare in the Piedmont, like the Georgia aster, yellow lady-slippers and more, the Glen is at its most beautiful in spring, as wildflowers begin blooming. Since its protection in ’95, our stewardship team has worked closely with Conservancy volunteers to manage the Glen and ensure its beautiful native plants remain protected.
The Glen is not the only unique property we protect. From seasonal wetlands like Whitehall Preserve, to rocky outcrops in Hagans’ Forest and working farms like Piedmont Jerseys, each property that the Conservancy protects is unique and beautiful in its own way. Our Signature Conservation Areas highlight the four pillars of our conservation work: Wildlife Habitat, Clean Water, Local Farms, and Connection to Nature.
In 30 years, we have seen a lot of change in the greater Charlotte region. We have seen enormous population growth and significant land development. However, in those 30 years the Conservancy has protected over 200 properties, which we continue to monitor and care for every year. We know this would not be possible without the vision, passion and hard work of those folks who have come before us.
It also is not possible without YOUR support. If you want to help us continue saving land, make a gift today and help us raise $30,000 in honor of our 30th.
As we celebrate this milestone anniversary throughout 2021, we are so grateful to all the people whose passion and hard work have helped build the Conservancy into the organization it is today. And we look forward to the next 30 years.
Header photo by Debbie Warren.