Stories of the Land: Sharing Nature's Beauty

Bud Hunter had a tremendous love of the outdoors. Growing up in Hendersonville, he would fish the trickling creeks and winding rivers and hike the lush forests and rolling mountains.

Bud, who passed away in July 2016, and his wife Randy, have called Glassy Mountain—a densely wooded property adjacent to the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site—their home for almost 45 years. It has the feeling of a sheltered cove with the surrounding mountains offering a warm embrace.

They raised their two boys on the land, who quickly picked up their father’s passion for the outdoors. They spent their childhood running through the woods, climbing on top of boulders, and even getting into a bit of mischief.

Randy recounts a time when the boys thought it would be a good idea to light a fire in a hollowed tree. She smiles as she shares that the boys’ Christmas money was donated to the local fire department that year.

Their mountain home in Flat Rock is teeming with life. Oak, poplar, hemlock, pine, ash, chestnut, persimmon, rhododendron, azaleas, mountain laurel, blueberries… a little bit of everything flourishes on the 100-acre property. Turkey, bear, deer, green salamanders and a myriad of birds frequent and live amongst the forest and creek, fondly named Whiskey Creek, as it once served as the site of a government still.

“For anyone paying attention, the amount of pristine land is shrinking all the time and Bud and I both felt like it was important that future generations could enjoy land that is not developed. That is not built on,” shares Randy.

It was no surprise then when Bud was approached by Connie Backlund in the early 2000s (then Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site Superintendent) about including their land in a new proposed authorized boundary, that he was happy to be a part of it.

The park began a dedicated process of working with the community and partners, next door, near and far engaging in a community planning process for what the future of the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site would look like. During that process the park looked at its boundaries and neighboring boundary land parcels. Some boundary areas were fully developed with subdivisions, but some key areas still featured pristine, undeveloped views as you look across the pastures and up through and out of the park.

“It’s important that if ever a landowner might want to sell to the National Park Service, in order to do that, their land has to be within an authorized boundary,” shares Backlund, who served as the park’s superintendent from 1994-2012. “It does not require that they ever sell or do anything with the Federal Government. It gives you one added option as a landowner.”

Bud was receptive and didn’t stop there. On a map at that meeting with Backlund he outlined a bowtie shape that he thought would be a good potential piece of his property to conserve one day. He had served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Nature Conservancy and understood the importance of saving special places.

Bud and Randy worked with Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC) to permanently conserve that 50-acre bowtie. It provides the opportunity for the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site to expand its hiking trail network to help more families get active and explore the forest together. It also helps protect scenic views and an extensive system of rock outcroppings, a rare natural habitat.

“Helping to protect the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, a beloved local treasure, from encroachment was critically important to us,” says Randy. “This presented an opportunity—and Bud was the one who thought about it and came up with it—of adding on to something that was already protected and just enhancing what was already there.”

The Carl Sandburg home is a place of immense tranquility and natural beauty. Carl Sandburg, “a poet of the people”, was inspired to write one-third of his work in this serene, pastoral setting. Today, it is a place where folks go to connect with the simplicity of nature and learn about one of America’s most remarkable and timeless poets.

“I think that especially today, but it has always been true, that connecting with nature is the healthy way to be and to have a way to do it with family,” shares Randy. “Bud’s idea behind this was to give people who normally wouldn’t have access to this much outdoors, to be able to see what’s here and enjoy it. There’s certainly a healing quality in nature and being outside. It’s just a way to share without giving it up. It wasn’t just protecting it for us; it was reaching out and sharing. That was a wonderful way he had about him.”

Randy loves the lush environment and peace that our region provides. An avid gardener, she feels right at home among the plants and flowers. Along with Bud, she shares a great sense of gratitude to call this place home.

“Protecting land requires patience and dedication and I just want to sing the praises of the Hunter family for following up on what Bud had envisioned, and what I understand was very meaningful to him,” shares Backlund. “That the Hunter family continued those wishes after Mr. Hunter passed away. What a great legacy and tribute to him.” 

Please download the current version of Internet Explorer. IE 6 is no longer supported.