• Outdoors Outdoors

Family donates sprawling land they've owned for generations with special request for its future: 'Looking forward to sharing this land that we've loved'

"It is a tremendous legacy that they will make."

"It is a tremendous legacy that they will make."

Photo Credit: iStock

A Tar Heel State family made the first of two large land donations to the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina in 2021.

The Camerons — David and Martha — and their son Rob Messick gave up 222 acres of their 323-acre property and will bequeath the rest in their estate, WLOS News 13 reported.

The area, near Thermal City in Rutherford County, features a van-sized balanced rock, the headwaters of Cathey's Creek, and two homes, one built in 1852.

WLOS noted the family hoped to have the grounds turned into a public park named Cameron Park after David's parents.

David and Martha Cameron in 1978 bought the real estate with other families "who shared a similar desire to get out of the city and own land," according to WLOS. They became sole owners years later.

"We would love to see trails built across the property for people to explore," David said. "We are really looking forward to sharing this land that we've loved for so many years."

The Foothills Conservancy has protected 70,193 acres since 1995, according to its website. The agency was formed by volunteers in the 1990s as the South Mountains Coalition to protect 35,000 acres of the South Mountains from being clear-cut and subdivided. 

It "inspires conservation in Western North Carolina by permanently protecting land and water for the benefit of people and all living things" and "envisions a thriving region to live and visit, with clean water, healthy forests, productive farmland, diverse wildlife, access to outdoor recreation, and communities that value conservation."

Land protected by the conservancy offers stunning views and includes the Blue Ridge Mountains and Chimney Rock. The preservation efforts improve health and happiness, food security, access to and availability of water, and climate issues as well as support job growth in the local economy.

Donations like these have earned a lot of headlines in recent years, with many other notable recent cases taking advantage of the vast tracts of land in Texas, such as donations of land near San Antonio and Austin. Conservationists no doubt love seeing moves like these wherever they come.

"Foothills Conservancy greatly appreciates these generous property donations from David, Martha, and Rob," said Tom Kenney, the conservancy's land protection director and a friend of Rob. "It is a tremendous legacy that they will make by the permanent conservation of their ecologically significant lands."

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