The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation joined the Conservation Fund, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) to celebrate the private-public partnership working to protect critical lands within the Maggie Valley watershed for wildlife and nearby communities of western North Carolina.
The 2,030-acre William H. Silver Game Land was established in 2017 by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) to provide much needed habitat for North Carolina’s growing elk population and other species, and to bring new economic development opportunities to Haywood County and surrounding counties.
“The William H. Silver Game Land not only establishes 2,030 acres of new public access in western North Carolina, but it protects important elk calving habitat outside of Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” said Steven Dobey, RMEF conservation program manager. “It also offers permanent protection to headwater streams that supply water to the nearby town of Maggie Valley. RMEF is proud to partner on this project that creates new recreational opportunities, protects critical elk habitat, and preserves water quality in North Carolina’s elk range.”
The NCWRC worked with The Conservation Fund to acquire nine properties located adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the new Game Land. The protection of these lands will also protect water quality for Maggie Valley and nearby communities, while increasing recreational opportunities—including hiking, wildlife viewing, and trout fishing—by connecting state and federally protected lands. Additional expansion efforts are underway in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Maggie Valley Sanitary District and others.
Funding for the conservation of these lands has been provided by the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Fred & Alice Stanback, Brad & Shelli Stanback, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pittman-Robertson / Wildlife Restoration program, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Pigeon River Fund, and Duke Energy Water Resources Fund. In addition, all of the landowners sold their properties at a discount to help facilitate this conservation effort.
The celebration brought together state, local, federal and nonprofit partners as well as residents and former landowners to toast the progress made thus far and outline future conservation in the area.
(Photo source: The Conservation Fund)