What is a Conservation Easement?

The view of Laurel Knob and Cow Rock from Lonesome Valley's new 26 acre conservation agreement.

In Cashiers, just off of Highway 64, there is a remarkable box canyon with a view that extends to Laurel Knob, the tallest granite face in the Eastern United States

This place is known as Lonesome Valley and has been owned by the Jennings family since 1895. This nearly 800 acre tract of land has enjoyed a rich history as a farm, mink ranch, trout farm and today is an innovative, family-friendly, conservation-oriented community.

At the very heart of the community the Jennings family has established a 26 acre conservation easement that encompasses six different habitat types including the vast main meadow, a cove forest, and a southern Appalachian bog.

In a conservation easement or conservation agreement, owners give up certain rights to future development within the easement area. They still own the property, and in exchange for development rights, they may receive a federal income tax deduction and a North Carolina tax credit. Most importantly, the easement are is forever preserved and protected from future development. The easement must be received and monitored by a qualified entity such as a land trust.

The Lonesome Valley conservation easement is held by the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust and protects important open space, wildlife habitat and an incredible scenic view of Cow Rock and Laurel Knob.

The landscape of western North Carolina has become increasingly fragmented over time as development has progressed. In Jackson County alone, the number of new parcels in the last 10 years exceeds 5,000. The ecological result of this fragmentation is the loss of habitat, along with isolating remnant habitat patches from each other. This fragmentation potentially inhibits the movement of wildlife and plant dispersal.

The Conservation Easement at Lonesome Valley avoids this isolation effect by being connected to approximately 250 additional acres of designated greenspace within Lonesome Valley including streams, wetlands, rock faces, and forests that will never be developed.

More than 30 percent of the entire development is committed to greenspace selected specifically to maintain the ecological integrity and connectedness of the Lonesome Valley landscape. Additionally, Lonesome Valley's green corridors also connect to Panthertown Valley, a 7,000 acre portion of the Nantahala National Forest and wildlife sactuary.

To learn more about Conservations Easements, contact the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust at (828) 526-1111.

Find out more about the Lonesome Valley Community in Cashiers, NC
Lonesome Valley Cashiers (1)

View other Conservation Communities in Cashiers, NC

The Divide at Bald Rock-Cashiers, NC

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