New Wildlife Conservation Area on the French Broad River

There’s a new piece of public land on the French Broad River, in Mills River. It’s 87 acres off of NC Highway 191, where tree-rimmed meadows stretch along the river’s edge. On a sunny day this fall, hawks were soaring overhead and you could see deer at the edge of the fields. Everywhere, grasshoppers were buzzing on spread wings among the tall grass. And beyond the level fields there was a panoramic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, including Mt. Pisgah.

This is the King’s Bridge Wildlife Conservation Area, which the NC Wildlife Resources Commission just opened to the public for fishing, birding, and other wildlife observation. (However, hunting is not allowed at this location.) While you’re likely to see some wildlife on your visit, you’re also seeing the “before” image of a planned transformation.

Wes Humphries and Scott Loftis, from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, posted signs at Kings Bridge this fall, to open it to the public.

The site has nearly two thirds of a mile of frontage on the French Broad River and the state agency is planning a natural floodplain restoration there. It will be similar to other restorations in the works in Mills River and Etowah on land owned by Conserving Carolina. Conserving Carolina purchased King’s Bridge from Super-Sod in December of 2020 and transferred it to the Wildlife Commission in the summer of 2021.

Nick Shaver, the Mountain Region Supervisor of the WRC’s Land and Water Access Division, says, “This parcel is a new and unique opportunity for our agency to take what is virtually a blank slate and create some high-quality wildlife habitat that will benefit both terrestrial and aquatic species.”  

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