By Victor Block
Visitors to North Carolina wander through a centuries-old Native American site, then relive a taste of life in the rural Appalachians of the early 1900s. Further north, a center of attention is a stone that was placed when mapping the Mason-Dixon Line, which marked the border between three British colonies in America. The site of an ancient tent city that arose during the 1850s Oregon Gold Rush is drawing the attention of people there.
These experiences seem to have little in common, but they share one trait: all take place in areas protected by a land trust. If your eyes are frozen upon reading these two words, you are not alone. Most people don’t know that countless parts of the United States are protected from development by being placed in a land trust. These non-profit organizations acquire, manage and hold land and also enter into conservation easements with landowners that prevent them from being developed for commercial purposes.
Land trusts have retained a total area greater than the size of Minnesota. While the common perception is that these places are forests, parks, and similar natural habitats, they also include historic goodies, beautiful gardens, and places to see wildlife in their natural habitat. Whatever your interests, you may be able to explore them in a place protected by a trust.
These people in North Carolina encounter two reminders of our country’s history that have been preserved by the Mainspring Conservation Trust. The Cowee Mound was the center of a thriving Cherokee community believed to date back to AD 600. It is topped by an 18th century council house that was erected decades before the tribe was evicted. of the valley.
Another kind of local tradition lives nearby at the Rickman store, which was built in 1895 and has continued in business for a century. Shelves filled with antiques and walls covered with primitive tools enhance an atmosphere of the past.
The Star Gazers stone is the center of attention in Chester County, Pennsylvania. It was placed by astronomer Charles Mason and surveyor Jeremiah Dixon during their work between 1763 and 1767 to resolve a border dispute between the colonies of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware.
This site and a beautiful garden nearby are among the places protected by the Natural Lands Trust. The history of Stoneleigh Garden dates back to 1877, when a wealthy railroad manager bought land and built a lavish house. The following owners hired renowned landscape architects to design the gardens that welcome visitors today. Paved walking paths lead past the main house to circular gardens, bogs, rockeries, and other inviting gardens.
The tents once occupied land now protected by the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy. During the Gold Rush era, the area was the site of a semi-permanent tent city that housed prospectors dreaming of instant riches. Interpretive panels along the trails tell this story and that of the diversity of the surrounding flora.
Different stories from our country’s past come to life in other places preserved for posterity by land trusts. The remains of Fort Fair Lawn in South Carolina date back to when that state was the epicenter of Revolutionary War activity. It was built in 1781, mostly in earth, near a plantation that British troops had occupied. Its well-preserved remains, now protected by two trusts, are nestled in the woods not far from Charleston. The original moats and some building materials are part of the reminders of his saga.
The testimonies of the life and culture of the Native Americans who were here when the first Europeans arrived are a common thread in some protected enclaves. One of them, the Mianus River Gorge in Westchester County, New York, was where the Wappinger Algonquins were said to have been the first to extract minerals that were once in abundance there to shape spikes. arrows, tools and pottery. They were followed in the 19th century by European immigrants who excavated quartz, mica and other substances.
Because land trusts protect the best examples of Mother Nature’s work, it’s no surprise that those who venture into many of them may encounter a variety of wildlife. The areas controlled by the North Olympic Land Trust in Washington State serve as home to land creatures, salmon, and resident and migrating birds. Roosevelt elk often hang out in a meadow, and bald eagles are frequent visitors as well.
The Michigan lands home to the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy include birding trails that delight many bird watchers. A path passes through a Great Lakes coastal marsh, which is a hotspot for birding that offers views of an outdoor aviary filled with feathered friends. Another feature is that it is designed to be universally accessible with welcoming platforms from which visitors can observe aerial activity.
If you thought that the protection of Land Trust reserves only extended to untrammeled tracts of forest, think again. Whether you are a bird lover, history buff, or garden enthusiast, you may find a surprising choice of places to follow your passion on Land Trust Reserves across the United States.
WHEN YOU GO
The Land Trust Alliance is a national organization that represents over 1,000 groups across the United States. Find land trusts in each state at www.findalandtrust.org.
The Rickman store – now a museum – in Franklin, North Carolina, is operated by the Mainspring Conservation Trust. Photo courtesy of Scott Watkins.
(SETIMAGE2) tad122621bdAP.jpg (END IMAGE2) (SET CAPTION2) The Stoneleigh Mansion and accompanying gardens in Villanova, Pa. Are protected by the Natural Lands Trust. Photo courtesy of David Korbonitis. (END LEGEND2)
The Star Gazers Stone in Chester County, Pa., Was placed by astronomer Charles Mason and surveyor Jeremiah Dixon during their work to resolve a border dispute between the colonies of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware . Photo courtesy of Holly Harper.
Victor Block is a freelance writer. To read articles from other Creators Syndicate authors and designers, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.