Pisgah National Forest, DuPont State Recreational Forest and Gorges State Park make up significant chunks of Transylvania County’s land area, providing first-class outdoor opportunities and attracting visitors from across the county and beyond, and playing a major role in the local economy. These three public lands receive either state or federal funds but can’t rely on them to meet all the demands of visitors. Three volunteer groups — The Pisgah Conservancy, Friends of DuPont Forest and Friends of Gorges State Park — each help their respective entities to meet their goals.
The Pisgah Conservancy is a nonprofit formed and dedicated to improve the Pisgah Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest. The Pisgah District comprises 162,000 acres, including the portions in Transylvania County. Among The Pisgah Conservancy’s goals are to provide volunteers who support recreation with maintenance and construction of trails, buildings and parking lots, for example; make watershed improvements and back the eradication of invasive species; and help with clean-up efforts and habitat improvements. For more information, go to www.pisgahconservancy.org.
Like the Conservancy’s mission, Friends of DuPont Forest is dedicated to supporting the 10,300-acre DuPont State Recreational Forest, which straddles Transylvania and Henderson counties. And, like the Conservancy, the Friends of DuPont Forest provide volunteers who work on projects, such as trail upgrades, to improve the DuPont experience.
Friends of the Falls was the precursor to Friends of DuPont Forest and was formed in 2000. The group’s efforts helped lead to the preservation and public access to the iconic High Falls, Triple Falls and Bridle Veil Falls and their eventual addition to the state forest. For more information, go to www.dupontforest.com.
Formed in 2011, the nonprofit Friends of Gorges State Park fundraises and financially supports park programs, provides volunteers at the visitors center, helps with the development of facilities and generally promotes public awareness about the state park, which covers roughly 7,500 acres. Like the other groups, members of the Friends of Gorges State Park are there to provide “extra support” to the small numbers of state and federal employees who oversee and manage these huge swathes of land. For more information, go to www.friendsofgorges.org.