Join the Effort to Expand Jones Gap« All News

June 13, 2011

The Greenville News

By Marshall Winn

The June 13th edition of The Greenville News featured an op-ed written by Wyche attorney Marshall Winn entitled "Join the Effort to Expand Jones Gap." The full piece is included below:

In my work I meet people from across the country and indeed around the world who are visiting Greenville for the first time, or the first time in many years, or the first time with a view toward establishing or relocating a business here in the Upstate. More and more often in the past few years I have heard comments like these: "What a wonderful city! What a great downtown! And I can't believe you can be in mountain wilderness in less than an hour!"

One part of the mountain wilderness they are talking about is what many of us already know about: Jones Gap State Park, with its magnificent waterfalls, striking rock formations, and extraordinary diversity of plant and animal life, all laced with great hiking trails. I think of it as the emerald crown of the Upstate. Few places in our country offer as attractive an area in which to live and work and raise a family as Greenville, and far fewer are the places that have a natural getaway that can be enjoyed on a day trip.

That rare combination is a key to the kind of economic growth we want here in the Upstate. We want to attract the kind of people who are themselves attracted by what we are so fortunate to have here. Those folks in turn attract, and often create, the new businesses that provide good jobs and economic growth for all of us, and our children, and our grandchildren.

But, as you can easily see on a nice weekend, Jones Gap needs to be bigger. Fortunately, we now have an opportunity to expand this wonderful natural area.

The Nature Conservancy of South Carolina is leading an effort to purchase 301 additional acres of mountain property that connects to Jones Gap. To date, 216 acres have been purchased with 85 acres to go. In addition, Naturaland Trust, Greenville's land trust dedicated to protecting our mountain heritage, has already donated 305 acres that will connect Jones Gap to this new addition. As a result, if we can succeed in raising the last bit of money we need to complete the purchase, Jones Gap will actually grow by a significant 600-plus acres!

When this effort started, we needed to raise nearly $2 million to buy the property from its private owners. Then the economy fell apart, and public money was unavailable. But many have stepped up to make this happen, and we have been able to buy the property in stages.

We are at the last stage now, with just $150,000 left to raise by June 30. Time is short, but just in the nick of time two angels have come forward to bring the goal even closer: Leading conservationists Fred and Alice Stanback have very generously pledged to match dollar for dollar all contributions that will bring this campaign to the finish line.

Won't you join in this last push to make sure that this incomparable mountain habitat will be preserved and enjoyed forever? You can be part of history by sending your donations to The Nature Conservancy's office in Columbia at 2231 Devine Street, Suite 100, Columbia, SC 29205. If you have questions about this effort you can call Kristen Austin, The Nature Conservancy's Southern Blue Ridge Director, at (864) 233–4988.

Read the article on Greenvilleonline.com.