ASHE COUNTY — The High Country Association of REALTORS® recently donated $22,000 to the New River Conservancy to build a new access point on the South Fork of the river. It’s a contribution to conservation, tourism, and our shared quality of life here in Ashe County.

The backstory: The Ashe Board of REALTORS® merged with the High Country Association in 2008. As part of the deal, it was agreed that everything left in the Ashe Board’s operating fund would be committed to future projects benefiting the Ashe County community. We entered this year with $22,000 of that balance remaining. After reviewing several local projects, our association decided to contribute the remaining funds to the proposed Highway 163 river access project.

The project was suggested by Ashe County commissioner Todd McNeill along with Elizabeth Underwood of the New River Conservancy. Since our donation, the New River Conservancy has secured an additional $80,000 in grant funding. We’re proud to be a part of this effort. As REALTORS® we don’t sell houses. We sell homes. A home is not just a building. It’s the neighborhood, the scenery, the school system, the local economy, and the great outdoors.

Along with the restoration of 300 feet of river bank there will be a new river access point and a covered picnic area. Visitors (locals included) will be able to enjoy one of the best parts of the river, floating for 3 hours before pulling out at Elk Shoals. This will bring more customers to local river outfitters and more money into the local tourism economy. During the pandemic tourism actually went up here in Ashe County. The New River was a big reason why.

We want to thank Ashe County Government and the New River Conservancy for their leadership on this project. We look forward to visiting that part of the river with our families. The New River is one of the oldest rivers in the world. It means something that the community is coming together now to protect and preserve that river for the benefit of the environment, our economy, and our shared quality of life. It’s a way of conserving our past while investing in our future.