Natural and Cultural Resources Grants Support The Wilderness Society and the Toe River Arts Council

Two Natural and Cultural Resources Focus Area Grants totaling $110,000 were recently awarded to The Wilderness Society (TWS) and the Toe River Arts Council by CFWNC. Natural and Cultural Resources is a focus area for the Foundation, which serves 18 counties in Western North Carolina.

The Wilderness Society was awarded $60,000 over two years to sustain the Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Partnership, which was chartered in December 2013 to engage diverse interests and establish common goals for forest management, recreation, protection and new wilderness designations, and to influence the United States Forest Service's Management Plan Revision for the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forests, expected in September 2016.

The Partnership is dedicated to drafting a citizen's alternative Forest Management Plan, signed by all members of the collaborative, and committed to building trust and rapport with the Forest Service, forging implementation partnerships and establishing stronger working relationships with wildlife federations and elected officials.

CFWNC funds will support the continuation of facilitation by Dr. Tom Hatley as well as administrative costs. The process of building consensus is intense and requires greater supervision and structure. Matching funds from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation will support the cost of engaging an additional consultant.

"There has been a great deal of media attention paid to the plan recently as groups debate the merits of various land management strategies," said CFWNC President Elizabeth Brazas. "This is our third grant supporting the engagement of the public in this process and it is particularly timely as the partnership moves from formation and information gathering to consensus building. This plan touches sixteen of eighteen counties in our service area. There is no question that it will impact our region and that the facilitation of this work is important."

The Francine Bowman Endowment Fund and the Dogwood Charitable Endowment Fund co-invested with CFWNC to support this grant.

The Toe River Arts Council (TRAC) was awarded $50,000 toward professional fees related to branding Mitchell and Yancey counties as one cultural arts entity. The project includes cultural district planning, beginning with branding and advancing to the establishment of an artist-designed, wayfinding system in the Toe River Valley and a strategic marketing plan.

TRAC will work with a national design firm to develop the identity and brand for Toe River Arts (TRA). A wayfinding consulting firm will locate and design signage connecting the art clusters, studios, performing arts venues and galleries. Local artists will be engaged to create and install directional signs as new public art. Mayland Community College will provide design and fabrication classes through access to the Anspach Advanced Technology Building, opening January of 2015.

Both Mitchell and Yancey counties are home to diverse and high-quality artists. In addition, both counties are constructing, or nearing completion of, four-lane access. 19E is already a scenic by-way, and there is a proposal under consideration to designate similarly the road leading to Roan Mountain. "Now is definitely the right time to unify efforts and highlight some of our counties' best assets," said Howell Hammond, CFWNC and Yancey Fund Board Member. "We have been working for years to build this type of collaboration and the resulting increase in visitors, business development and job creation that will benefit both counties."

The Francine Bowman Endowment Fund, Patricia Nevin Fund, Fund for the Arts and the Dogwood Charitable Endowment Fund partnered with CFWNC to support this grant.

Through the Natural and Cultural Resources Focus Area, CFWNC works to preserve and cultivate the region's sense of place by investing in cultural and environmental projects and programs that protect or enhance the way of life in Western North Carolina. The grants help protect natural resources, including landscapes, vistas and historic sites, and support and develop the arts-based economy, which is an important economic driver in the region. Since inception, the Focus Area has invested more than $485,000 in the region.