SALUDA — About 150 land conservation supporters gathered at Twin Lakes Saturday to celebrate the saving of the property for public use.
The Wilkes family had owned the Twin Lakes property since the 1950s, making it available for anyone to use as long as they made a reservation. There was no charge but people were expected to make a donation, and they always did.
Bill Wilkes' parents, James T. and Helen Wilkes, bought the property from the Pace family.
"When my father died in 1962, my mom asked Junior Pace if he'd take care of it," Wilkes said. Junior Pace (H.P. Pace Jr.) looked after the property like it was his own. A plaque erected on the property in 1994 pays tribute to him for 35 years of care that "brought out the beauty that Nature provided here."
When Pace died, Bill Wilkes took on the burden of the property.
"I got tired of driving from the other side of Hendersonville to fix things," he said.
Working with the Saluda Community Land Trust and Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, Bill Wilkes and his family donated the property with a conservation easement that ensures it won't be developed.
It's not quite Twin Lakes at the moment. The lower lake is drained and the land trust hopes to repair the dam.
"They're working with the state to get a permit," Wilkes said. "Without going into a lot of detail, the state says you show us a plan and if we like it you can repair it."
The 21-acre property with its two ponds will be available to the public as it always has been. People should contact the Saluda Community Land Trust to make a reservation.
The upper lake was getting plenty of use on Saturday, June 15. Wilkes said at one point he counted about 50 people in the water.