THE FACTS: North Carolina’s pristine rivers, streams, farms and wildlife habitats are disappearing at an alarming rate. In the last twenty years, developed land in the southern Blue Ridge Mountains has increased 77%, from 475,000 acres to 840,000 acres. This loss of rural land is equal to 2 ½ times the land area of Mitchell and Yancey counties!
THE CHALLENGES: Farming has become an increasingly difficult way for families to support themselves. Tax regulations often make it difficult to transfer the family land to the next generation. With land values rising steadily, it's often easier to sell the property to generate much needed income. Because there is a lack of community wide planning, once property is sold, there's no way to protect the region’s rural heritage. Yet, it's that rural heritage that helps generate $2 billion in tourism each year to the people of Western North Carolina.
A LOCAL SOLUTION: Toe River Valley Watch, a non-profit group founded in 2006, strives to bring community together to address these challenges and preserve the unique rural heritage of Mitchell and Yancey counties. We are committed to creating community-wide gatherings to share common experiences and current information. Community participation will help us voice our common concerns about environmental issues and sustainable development practices to further preserve our rural heritage. Our goal is to create solutions that will help the local economy grow without compromising one of our most important assets - our natural resources. Toe River Valley Watch will work with elected officials, the schools, and all residents to help develop community-based planning and projects which will enhance the rural future of Mitchell and Yancey counties.

Guiding Principles

  • To preserve and protect the rural character of the Toe River Valley
  • To assure a continued, healthy, and abundant supply of clean water in the Toe River, and protect the rivers and streams that feed into the Toe River
  • To protect the native flora and fauna of the Southern Appalachian Mountains that are found in the Toe River Valley
  • To develop partnerships with the residents of the Toe River Valley in order to preserve the unique but threatened heritage of their rural environment
  • To protect and promote the clean and healthy environment of the Toe River Valley, the Appalachian Trail, and all other parts of Mitchell and Yancey counties as designated by the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area
  • To foster the economic well-being of the residents of the Toe River Valley for present and future generations by preserving the rich cultural and natural heritage of the area
  • To inform the public about how natural occurrences and human activities impact their environment and to motivate the public to have a positive impact