Last Updated on April 5, 2023
In the Blue Ridge, our mountains are inextricably linked to our way of life. Traditionally, the mountains have guided farming practices, town traditions, and community cultures. Today, they serve as a backdrop for our outdoor adventures and lifelong memories.
Enjoying the beauty of our mountains is one way you can Live Abundantly in WNC. For those who love our mountains, that means preserving their beauty for years to come. This month, let’s take a look at organizations dedicated to improving the local environment. We encourage you to learn more about the nonprofits on this list and consider a gift of time or money to support the programs that ensure these mountains remain a fantastic place to call home.
Every natural resource deserves protection. Here is just a short list of our many favorite WNC nonprofits dedicated to protecting the local environment.
Skip ahead! Find local environmental nonprofits near you:
- 4 environmental nonprofits near Asheville
- 2 environmental nonprofits near Brevard
- 2 environmental nonprofits near Hendersonville
- 3 environmental nonprofits near Waynesville
- 1 environmental nonprofit supporting WNC
4 environmental nonprofits near Asheville
Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park
From resource management projects and science programs to artists in residence and visitor protection groups, there’s always something going on in America’s most visited national park. Friends of the Smokies assists the National Park Service by raising funds and public awareness, as well as by providing volunteers for needed projects. Since 1993, they have raised more than $53 million to fund historic preservation, wildlife management, environmental education, and more in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Learn more.
84 Coxe Ave Suite 200, Asheville | (828) 452-0720 | friendsofthesmokies.org
MountainTrue empowers residents to engage in community planning, policy, and project advocacy, as well as on-the-ground projects. To achieve their goals, MountainTrue focuses on a core set of issues across 23 WNC counties: sensible land use, restoring public forests, protecting water quality, and promoting clean energy—all of which have a high impact on the environmental health and long-term prosperity of the region. MountainTrue is the home of the French Broad Riverkeeper, the Watauga Riverkeeper, and the Broad River Alliance.
29 N Market Street, Suite 610, Asheville | (828) 258-8737 | mountaintrue.org
RiverLink promotes the environmental and economic vitality of the French Broad River and its watershed. The nonprofit accomplishes its mission by providing permanent public access to the river through conservation and recreation easements, reclaiming contaminated lands for public use and enjoyment, and educating the public about the importance of the French Broad River watershed. By providing hands-on learning experiences for more than 3,000 children annually, as well as additional adults, RiverLink stands by its three-word mission: experience, learn, conserve.
170 Lyman Street, Asheville | (828) 252-8474 | riverlink.org
Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy
SAHC conserves unique plant and animal habitats, clean water, farmland, scenic beauty, and places for people to enjoy outdoor recreation in ten counties across the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina. Since 1974, SAHC has protected more than 75,000 acres of land. They work with landowners, responsibly steward protected lands and conservation easements, and connect people with land. Additional programs, like the Farm Incubation Program, provide land to initiate or expand agricultural businesses.
372 Merrimon Avenue, Asheville | (828) 253-0095 | appalachian.org
Plant a seed! Find a home in a community protected by these environmental nonprofits. Search homes for sale in Asheville.
2 environmental nonprofits near Brevard
Mountain Roots provides discovery and outdoor learning experiences with a focus on environmentally responsible (i.e. sustainable) and community centered living. The organization offers intentional, hands-on outdoor learning experiences to local K–8 students to foster curiosity about the natural world and a deeper sense of place. Mountain Roots Leadership Education lessons also teach students to respect each other and work together as a community. From workshops to day camps, Mountain Roots takes folks outside to explore and make connections.
P.O. Box 248, Cedar Mountain | (828) 384-4629 | mountainroots.org
Muddy Sneakers teaches the NC core curriculum by taking kids out of the classroom and into the forest. In Muddy Sneakers’ first ten years, they worked with more than 2,500 fifth grade public school students from 39 schools in eight WNC counties, three counties around their second location in Salisbury, NC, and the South Carolina Upstate. Students are led by a field instructor through protected lands in the hopes of enhancing not only their academic achievement, but of cultivating a life-long love of nature. Learn more.
44 W Jordan Street, Brevard | (828) 862-5560 | muddysneakers.org
Plant a seed! Find a home in a community protected by these environmental nonprofits. Search homes for sale in Brevard.
2 environmental nonprofits near Hendersonville
Even though it was created in July 2017, Conserving Carolina is an organization with roots that reach back more than 30 years. Conserving Carolina hosts regular educational workshops, volunteer opportunities, outdoor adventures, and community events to promote stewardship and an understanding of the natural world. But much of their impact comes through conservation easement. To date, the organization has conserved more than 45,000 acres in WNC and Upstate South Carolina, regularly monitors more than 200 conservation easements, and has developed 35 miles of trails. Learn more.
847 Case Street, Hendersonville | (828) 697-5777
2060 Lynn Road, Columbus | (828) 697-5777
Saluda Community Land Trust
The mission of the Saluda Community Land Trust (SCLT) is to preserve Saluda’s rural character by preserving farm and forest land through conservation easements and land acquisition. They also establish greenways, connecting people, land, and community. Active projects include controlling invasives, rehabbing Moody House, and completing the trail to the summit of Round Mountain. Most importantly, SCLT empowers Saluda community members to take ownership of their land and use it for the best practices. Learn more.
P.O. Box 732, Saluda | (828) 749-1560 | saludaclt.org
Plant a seed! Find a home in a community protected by these environmental nonprofits. Search homes for sale in Hendersonville.
3 environmental nonprofits near Waynesville
Haywood Waterways Association
The mission of Haywood Waterways Association is to improve surface water quality in the Pigeon River Watershed of Haywood County through two objectives: education and implementation of water improvement strategies. Education and outreach instill environmentally responsible behaviors to provide the best long-term benefits to our waterways. Critical partnerships with public agencies, conservation interests, businesses, community groups, and public and private landowners allow the nonprofit to assist with regional, state, and even national conservation efforts. Learn more.
P.O. Box 389, Waynesville | (828) 476-4667 | haywoodwaterways.org
Lake Junaluska: Friends of the Lake
A significant part of experiencing Lake Junaluska includes slowing down and finding true connections with family, friends, faith, and especially nature. Not only does the lake have unparalleled vistas of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, but it also has places like Inspiration Point where visitors can immerse themselves in a spectacular garden and a sense of wonder. Friends of the Lake ensures that Lake Junaluska continues to be a beloved place where the community can enjoy the walking trail, gardens, and breathtaking vistas for years to come.
P.O. Box 67, Lake Junaluska | (828) 454-6749 | lakejunaluska.com
Mainspring Conservation Trust
Formed in 1997, Mainspring is the land trust for seven counties across WNC and Georgia. Their goal is to conserve and restore the lands and waters of the Southern Blue Ridge, and to connect people to these natural treasures. They work with landowners to create conservation easements for agriculture, beauty, and other values. Streambank restoration initiatives ensure that waterways continue to support rich aquatic life. And their education and citizen science initiatives teach hundreds of adults and kids about the importance of clear, healthy streams.
557 E Main Street, Franklin | (828) 524-2711 | mainspringconserves.org
Plant a seed! Find a home in a community protected by these environmental nonprofits. Search homes for sale in Waynesville.
1 environmental nonprofit Supporting WNC
Conservation Trust for North Carolina
For the past 25 years, Conservation Trust for North Carolina has inspired and enabled people to build resilient, just communities. At their core, they are focused on conserving land in collaboration with communities, adapting to a changing climate, and seeding equity and inclusion throughout conservation. From the mountains to the sea, CTNC has proven that strategic conservation, like their work along the Blue Ridge Parkway, has its rewards.
1028 Washington Street, Raleigh | (919) 828-4199 | ctnc.org