White Oak Mountain to Mine Mountain

pacolet-2 Botanists have been drawn to the uniqueness of this portion of the Blue Wall Escarpment, which encompasses White Oak Mountain, Tryon Peak, Miller Mountain, Round Mountain, Warrior Mountain, Melrose Mountain, and Mine Mountain since the 1920s. Where the mountains meet the Piedmont, the unique microclimate creates an environment suitable to unusually large populations of rare and endangered plants. This area has been identified as a North Carolina Natural Heritage high priority site and its conservation is considered crucial.

Clean Water and a Healthy Natural Environment at Risk

In addition to rare plants, this area is known for its pristine waterways in a system containing the headwaters of the North Pacolet River. Once considered too remote and fragile for development, these mountain ecosystems have been threatened by an overwhelming interest in ridge top and mountainside home building. The watershed’s natural ability to retain and filter water has been stressed by clearing for new development, often leading to runoff, erosion, and sedimentation, creating dirty, unhealthy water systems. We must conserve enough of this critical area to maintain clean water and a healthy natural environment.

pacolet-3Biological Diversity

The Blue Wall Escarpment from White Oak Mountain to Mine Mountain contains nationally significant biological hotspots. Here, numerous rare plant species thrive, such as the federally and N.C. endangered White Irisette. Significant natural communities such as Montane Oak-Hickory Forest, Chestnut Oak Forest, Montane Acidic Cliff, and Low Elevation Rocky Summit, pro – vide habitat for Cerulean Warblers, Coal Skink, Appalachian Checkered Skipper, Mottled Duskywing and many more species.

Cultural Heritage

The Blue Wall Escarpment from White Oak Mountain to Mine Mountain was part of the negotiated boundary between Cherokee Terri – tory and that of the early settlers. In 1767, Governor William Tryon met with Cherokee chiefs atop the “great mountain” to negotiate a boundary line between the Cherokee and the settlers. It was agreed that the Cher – okee would allow the settlers to live peacefully in the Piedmont, south – east of the “great mountain”, and the Cherokee would occupy the area to the north/north west. The “great mountain” was later renamed for the governor that made settlement in the area possible, and is now known as “Tryon Peak”.

Economic Significance

Polk County has been named one of the “Top 10 Best Places to Live in Rural America” by Progressive Farmer Magazine. The local econ – omy relies heavily on tourism and the equine industry, both of which require natural resource preserva – tion—mountains for scenic beauty, clean water for fishing and kaya – king, and farmland and trails for equestrian pursuits. These industries impact the economy of the com – munity exponentially, generating income for everyone from farriers and veterinarians to retail shops and restaurants.
Named for its initial preservation efforts of land along the North Pacolet River, The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) has continued its conservation efforts along the pristine waterways that wander through this section of the mountains and Piedmont. With grants from state funding sources such as the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the Natural Heritage Foundation, the Ecosystem Enhancement Program, and landowner-donated conservation agreements, PAC owns 10 tracts and holds 19 conservation agreements on parts of the Blue Wall Escarpment from White Oak Mountain to Mine Mountain; yet, there is much more to protect and connect. In fact, this focus area hosts one of the largest concentrations of federally endangered White Irisette in the United States, making it a desirable target for permanent protection through public funding.
This unique area encompasses all of nature’s magnificence— mountains, rivers, farmland, forests, and overall greenspace. Since 1989, PAC has helped protect more than 8,000 acres of prime natural resources in and around Polk County. The State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) and other data sources are being used to set priorities for future land protection.

Leave Your Legacy

There are few ways that you can leave a more lasting, tangible legacy than through land conservation. Please consider a tax-deductible gift to The Pacolet Area Conservancy to help preserve the last of the fast-diminishing, irreplaceable natural resources. Help us leave enough protected land and water for the health and enjoyment of generations to come.


PAC logo
The Pacolet Area Conservancy
850 North Trade St., Tryon, NC 28782
828-859-5060 www.pacolet.org