How much does a mountain cost? Well, if you’re the state of North Carolina you can probably pick one up for around $12 million, give or take.
In a move that’s being hailed by conservationists all over the state, not to mention birders and hikers, the state of North Carolina has purchased Grandfather Mountain, the second tallest in the state and long the private property of the Morton family. The 2600 acre purchase includes an additional 600 acres easement, and will transfer the mountain to the public ownership of the state and prevents the development of the vast area along the Blue Ridge Parkway, just south of Boone.
Grandfather Mountain is the only United Nations recognized International Biosphere Reserve in the state, and until the sale, was the only privately owned area in the world designated as such. Famous for its environmental interpretive mission, the park included wild animal enclosures in addition to its miles of hiking trails, the park was kind of a combination of zoo and park. I have never been there, the admission price was, and will continue to be, steep, but the protection of nearly 3000 acres of high altitude spruce fir forest is a big deal for all of us for support conservation, and the money raised will now be going to a non-profit organization that goes towards further land purchases by the state, which can only be good news.
Said Mike Easley, the Governor of North Carolina:
“If you can get a Grandfather Mountain for $12 million, you’d better get as many as you can,” he said. “That is a deal for the people of the state of North Carolina.”
Certainly an attitude that can be shared by all conservation-minded citizens of the state.