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Activist and self-trained botanist helped to launch Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy

“Her ready and slightly mischievous smile,” said Kieran Roe, “was the first thing that struck me about Anne Ulinski.”

We will now miss that smile dearly. Ulinski passed away earlier this month at the age of 94. But we have many reasons to smile ourselves when remembering the profound impact that she had on our region.

“I really wanted to be a part of the community,” Ulinski told the Times-News when she moved to Hendersonville in 1981. “Because this is my community now.”

Ulinski, a longtime Hendersonville resident and community activist, lived a life defined by public service, optimism and compassion. She drove a Red Cross truck transporting wounded soldiers during World War II. She volunteered in clinics while living in Italy and Liberia. She tutored underprivileged children her first several years in Hendersonville. She was a mother of five.

"She was an amazing woman," said Carol Freeman, Ulinski’s first child, of Hendersonville.

"In getting to know Anne, I felt I’d met a kindred spirit,” added Roe, executive director of Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC). “She had a driving passion for places of beauty and inspiration in this region.”

"She loved the mountains and the natural beauty of Western North Carolina,” said Freeman. “But when she first came down here, many would now be surprised that she couldn’t really identify any plants.”

A lifelong voracious learner, the region’s beauty inspired Ulinski to become a self-trained botanist. She then became a particularly active member of the Western Carolina Botanical Club.

Ulinski’s increasing love of the natural world led her to extensively monitor and document plants at several locations in the county, including Jackson Park, Mud Creek, Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, and Historic Johnson Farm.

In 1991, she became involved in a grassroots community effort to locate and identify the diverse flora and fauna for the entire county. She and peers raised funds to hire a biologist to produce what became the Natural Heritage Inventory of Henderson County.

Once documentation was complete, a small group that included Ulinski decided to take the initiative one step further. Seeking to protect the rarest occurrences of plants and their habitats identified within the inventory, she and a group led by Lela McBride set forth to establish a local land trust.

That small group soon became the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy. Ulinski wrote one of the first checks to the organization so that it could establish a bank account and become official.

During one of those early meetings that led to its formation, McBride tapped Ulinski on the shoulder and whispered into her ear, granting her the job of secretary of their committee. It was a symbolic gesture bestowing Ulinski with responsibility to take the reins of the organization and move it forward.

“It was like the passing of the baton,” said Freeman. “For the next five years, she ran the organization out of the trunk of her car.”

CMLC hired Roe, its first — and for several years its only — paid staff member in 1999.

“Anne had left the board shortly before then, but was still very attached to the work of the organization for which she had been responsible for initiating,” Roe recalled. “She would stop by the office occasionally and cheerfully provide leads and suggestions. Anne’s gentle and steady encouragement helped me begin to understand the goals and priorities of the fledgling land trust she had helped get off the ground a few years earlier.

“I got the sense that Anne was most happy getting good work done rather than sitting in board meetings. In fact, she had initiated discussions with Tom and Glenna Florence, acquaintances through the botany club, that led to their decision to donate their 600-acre property in Gerton to CMLC, one of the organization’s first conservation projects.“

Ulinski’s dedication to the new land trust continued to be fueled by her love of native plants. Of the many locales she botanized, she most loved to explore the Oklawaha Bog behind the Chanteloup Estates neighborhood where she resided.

The bog became one of the most sacred of all places to Ulinski. “She would walk there every day,” said Freeman.

Eventually it was discovered that the bog contained the bunched arrowhead flower, one of the rarest plants in not just the county, but the entire nation. Ulinski was particularly hopeful that CMLC, the land trust that she helped establish to protect significant natural heritage, could do just that: save the Oklawaha Bog.

“She told me that she was not going to die until that land was protected,” Freeman said.

After many years of working toward its conservation, CMLC and partners purchased the bog for permanent protection in 2010. To return the property to its original wetland and stream habitat as well reestablish a thriving population of bunched arrowhead, the partners coordinated its full restoration several years later.

“I was very happy that Anne was still able to witness the conservation and restoration of the place most near and dear to her,” said Roe. “It felt like a happy ending to a story that Anne had started 15 years earlier. It was a fitting example of cooperation and persistence that Anne had first brought to CMLC as founder and role model.”

Because Ulinski’s heath declined in recent years, she was less able to keep up with the ongoing conservation work of the organization that she had helped start. But when Freeman relayed the recent milestone of 30,000 protected acres, Ulinski was teeming with pride and elation.

“It was just beyond what she could imagine,” said Freeman. “CMLC’s work was near and dear to her heart. She told me, ‘This is the most important work I have ever done.’”

Prior to Ulinski’s death, CMLC honored her with the naming of another recently conserved and restored mountain bog in Flat Rock. Appropriately, the Anne Ulinski Bog also hosts the bunched arrowhead flower.

Three and a half decades after she arrived in Western North Carolina, Anne more than achieved her original goal. She became, and will forever remain, an inseparable part of our community. She had 30,000 reasons for that mischievous smile.

by Peter Barr, CMLC Trails & Outreach Coordinator

Read more stories of CMLC’s conserved lands at 

Support your native pollinators!

On Thursday, July 28th, CMLC staff and AmeriCorps will be joining students from Camplify! to plant milkweed on a CMLC conserved property in Henderson County. 

We will be planting three different kinds of milkweed--common, swamp, and butterfly--at the Hyder Pasture property owned and conserved by CMLC. 

Hyder Pasture is a beautiful now-restored southern Appalachian mountain bog property located in Flat Rock. In 2013, CMLC acquired the deteriorated bog-site and in 2015, the area underwent a complete rehabilitation in partnership with the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and NC's Clean Water Management Trust Fund.

At the time of purchase, Hyder Pasture was home to one of the rarest plant species in the nation--the bunched arrowhead. Found only in Henderson and Spartanburg counties at 11 sites in the entire world, the bunched arrowhead was on a great decline in Hyder Pasture. Now, Hyder Pasture and its rare plant are thriving and it is a great time to introduce some native pollinators!

Please join us at this service day to install a pollinator patch on this beautiful conserved property.

Volunteers should wear sturdy shoes, pants, and should be prepared for the weather. Additionally, volunteers should bring plenty of water and a lunch to eat out on the field. CMLC will provide all gloves, tools, and additional water for the service day.

If you are interested in volunteering for this service day or any other or would like more information, please email Ericka Berg, the Volunteer and Community Engagement Associate at

For more information about Camplify!, please visit their website:



We are proud to present Jordan Luff with our Yellow Lady Slipper Award in appreciation of his dedicated service and commitment to CMLC.

The desire to make “positive, restorative change in our ecosystems” drives Jordan Luff in everything that he does. Jordan began volunteering for CMLC last year after a stewardship workday with his Haywood Community College natural resources class. For Jordan, this experience was a game changer, because he quickly became one of our most dependable volunteers out in the field.  Every time he “enters the forest with CMLC,” Jordan is “motivated by the difference that is made; the fruit of our efforts is the most rewarding feeling.” In his time with CMLC, Jordan has definitely been a part of some great efforts.

With the guidance of David Lee, Natural Resources Manager, and Jack Henderson, AmeriCorps Stewardship Associate, Jordan was able to take on an independent project—tackling the non-native invasive Reed Canary Grass at Lewis Creek Nature Preserve. To Jordan, non-native invasive species are “one of the most serious ecological issues” in our region and in the world, and he is doing his part to protect and restore our regions’ natural lands, not only at Lewis Creek, but through his regular attendance at other stewardship workdays.

Jordan relocated from Atlanta to western North Carolina with his family in 2002 and has been involved in outdoor and environmental activities ever since. In addition to being an outdoorsman, Jordan is a talented musician whose band just returned from a tour in Europe.  In August, he is leaving WNC to pursue his Bachelors, and later his Masters, in Forestry at NC State. We will miss him and his constant enthusiasm and eagerness, but we wish him the best in his future. Thank you, Jordan!


New CMLC Hats, both Baseball Cap and Trucker style, are available upon donation!

Show support for Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy while wearing a really cool new hat! Hats, as well as our Original T-Shirt, Fitted T-Shirt, Bandanas, Stickers/Car Decals, and more are available upon donation HERE. Then, just click on "Visit Our Shop." 


You can also click on the "Donate/Join CMLC" box at the top of this page and then click "Visit Our Shop."


Baseball Caps: Traditional cap style with full-head cloth cover. Patch on front. 100% organic cotton.

Trucker Hats: Front 1/3 of the hat with the CMLC patch is full cloth. Back 2/3 is mesh to allow for air flow and is an off white/light beige color. 70% organic cotton and 30% recycled polyester.

Both styles are Econscious brand and come in either navy blue or light brown. The CMLC patch is the same on both hats and are bright, eye catching, and saturated with CMLC's colors. Both hats are durable with a good feel and are unisex.

Both the Baseball Cap and Trucker Hat are one size fits all and adjustable. 

*Donations for CMLC gear/gifts do not include, or take the place for, a CMLC membership.

Thank you sincerely for all of your support

It is the members, volunteers, and supporters like yourselves that truly help CMLC save the places we all love.

Click here or on the cover above to read the full volume.

In this issue:

  • Letter from the Executive Director
  • Learning from the Land: Sisters, CMLC Protects 410 Acres, Creates Teaching & Research Reserve
  • 16th Annual Conservation Celebration - August 27th
  • CMLC Teams Up with Boys and Girls Clubs
  • Yellow Lady Slipper Volunteer Award: Jordan Luff
  • New French Broad River Access in Horse Shoe
  • ...and More!

Join Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy for a celestial show atop CMLC-conserved Bearwallow Mountain on Sunday, July 17, 2016. We'll hike to the summit about 90 minutes before sunset in time to watch the fullmoon rise, then hike back down the gravel road about 60 minutes after sunset.

At 4,232 ft. above sea level, Bearwallow Mountain stands as the highest peak in the widely-visible Bearwallow Highlands range. Straddling the Eastern Continental Divide, it makes up part of the Blue Ridge Escarpment as well as the western rim of the Hickory Nut Gorge. Crowned with a grassy meadow at its summit, the mountain features a nearly 360 degree view that encompasses some of the southern Appalachians highest peaks including Mt. Mitchell in the Black Mountains and Mt. Pisgah in the Great Balsams range. Its breathtaking vista also includes a birds-eye view of Hickory Nut Gorge, as well as downtown Hendersonville. A historic fire lookout tower occupies the summit, as do grazing cattle who call the mountaintop home.

CMLC acquired a conservation easement on 81 acres at the summit of Bearwallow in 2009, forever protecting it from mountaintop development. An additional 85 acres were placed into a conservation easement on Bearwallow Mountain's ridgeline in 2012. At the moment, CMLC has conserved a total of 165 acres and is working toward conserving more than 300 acres at Bearwallow Mountain by the end of 2016.

Total hiking distance is 2.0 miles. This hike is rated strenuous with a total elevation gain of 537 feet. Attendance is free and open to the public. We will begin our hike Sunday evening before the sun sets, and then we will travel back down the mountain bathed in moonlight. Please note: because of the nature of this hike, plan to pack a flashlight and additional clothes, blanket/sleeping bag to stay warm while on the summit. It will probably be windy.

Participants are required to be in good physical condition and capable to hike over uneven, forested terrain. Hikers should wear sturdy walking shoes (no flip-flops), bring several layers of clothing in preparation for cold temperatures, pack plenty of water as well as a snack to eat during the hike. Hikers who attend are required to participate in the entire duration of the hike. 

This hike is open to the public as well as CMLC members. Space is limited on our hikes, so please reserve your spot by using CMLC's Online Hike Sign-Up Form. Hike meeting locations and additional details will be sent out to participants via e-mail 1-2 days prior to the hike. Reservations for a spot on this hike will be taken on a first-come, first-serve basis using:

CMLC's Online Outing Sign-Up Form

For questions, contact CMLC's Community Outreach Associate Corinne Fretwell at Please allow one full business day for a response to Sign-Ups and inquiries. In the event of inclement weather, please call our office at (828) 697-5777 as we may have to cancel the outing.


A new section of Hendersonville's Oklawaha Greenway was recently opened, creating a three-mile-long paved walkway through meadows, wetlands, and forests, linking Jackson Park, Patton Park, and Berkley Park. The potential future route of the greenway includes connecting the Village of Flat Rock Park to the Blue Ridge Community College, and then continuing up through the three aforementioned parks. If everything goes according to plan, the Oklawaha Greenway should be around 7 miles one way. 

Also, over the next several months, the Friends of the Oklawaha Greenway will introduce "Oklawaha Greenway Walks and Talks," a series of educational outings for the whole family.

August 20: Fall Wild Flower Walk with Michelle Skeele, trained naturalist, and Penny Longhurst, President of the Western Carolina Botanical Club

September 10: Clean Water Walk with Philip Ellis, environmental engineer, and Evan Parker of MountainTrue

October 8: Migratory Bird Walk with Cherie Pittillo, member of the Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society's Board of Directors

All walks start at 10:00 am. For more information about "Walks and Talks Along the Greenway," contact Jack Robinson, Friends of the Oklawaha Greenway, at 828-335-2479 or

Presented by:                      


To learn more about the Oklawaha Greenway and the "Walks and Talks" series, click here.

Want to read the Times-News article? Click here.

Join us after work on Wednesday, June 29th, for a nature journaling hike at The Cabin Ridge in Hendersonville, NC. Guests will bring their own journal and writing utensils but will be guided with prompts to journal, sketch, and take observations. No experience is necessary! Participants must be able to walk an easy mile loop trail and able to sit or stand while journaling and observing.

This hike will be open to the public. Due to the nature of this hike, there will be a cap of 15 guests. Reservations will be taken on a first come, first serve basis using CMLC's Online Hike Sign-Up FormAdditional information will be sent upon confirmation fo your spot on the hike within 1-3 business days after requesting a spot. 

CMLC's Online Hike Sign-Up Form

For questions, contact CMLC Community Outreach Associate Corinne Fretwell at corinne@carolinamountain.orgIn the event of inclement weather, please call our office at (828) 697-5777 to learn about a hike cancellation.



Brevard High School Senior Hannah Field has been awarded CMLC's Ruth Jones Memorial Scholarship of 2016!

While attending Brevard High School, Hannah was heavily involved in both her school and the community. "Service projects, clubs, and volunteer opportunities of all shapes and sizes," Hannah wrote in her application, "have all been important factors in allowing me to become a productive member of my community." As club president, member of the Student Council, participant in volunteer and leadership roles, and competitor in a variety of competitions during her high school years, Hannah has had a true impact on both her school and the community. Hannah is also a Transylvania Scholar and in the top 10 students of her class thanks to her dedication and high grades.

The awarded $1,500 will aid Hannah in her journey through college and pursuit of a career. She intends to attend Appalachian State University this Fall to pursue an undergraduate degree in Geology or a double-major in Geology and Sustainable Development (with a concentration in Environmental Studies). In the future, Hannah hopes to become involved in research dealing with the efficient recovery and conservation of geologic resources, as well as the economic impacts that these methods have on society. 

Good luck, Hannah!

The Ruth Jones Scholarship was established in 2015 by CMLC in honor of life-long Transylvania County resident and Brevard High School graduate Ruth Elaine Jones.

Jones passed away in June 2011, leaving us suddenly—and far too early—at the age of 56. Ruth will be missed, but her legacy—and embodiment of her values—will forever live on. Bequeathing her estate to CMLC, the local land trust ensured the permanent protection of the rural character and natural beauty of her Cedar Mountain farm via a conservation easement in 2014.

“Ruth devoted her life to her church, her community, her friends, and her parents, never asking for or expecting anything in return,” said Brevard resident Mark Tooley, Ruth’s friend. “She always had a smile on her face.”

CMLC also created the Ruth Jones Scholarship in dedication to her love of the outdoors, her appreciation of the natural world, and her career in giving to her community and helping to educate others.

The purpose of the scholarship is to provide financial assistance to selected individuals attending an accredited university, college, or technical college, who wish to pursue a four-year degree in health or environmental sciences, including but not limited to: biology, environmental science, health education, pre-medicine, nursing, agriculture, forestry, natural resource conservation, or wildlife science.

The award shall emphasize academic achievement but will also include participation in extra-curricular activities and community service that exemplify Ruth’s service to others.  Applicants must also show a demonstrated desire to continue educational pursuits in one of the fields listed above.

The Ruth Jones scholarships awarded through this program are intended to benefit bona fide residents of Transylvania County and graduates of Brevard High School.

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