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Land trusts preserve Twin Lakes park in Saluda

SALUDA— The Saluda Community Land Trust and Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy have partnered to permanently protect 21 acres of the locally cherished Twin Lakes parkland in southeast Henderson County near Saluda, the land trusts announced Monday.

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The project, completed in early August, ensures the long term availability of Twin Lakes Park for public recreation to residents and visitors of the community, as well as protects the natural character of its surroundings.

The Twin Lakes tract—named for its two large ponds—was purchased by James T. and Helen Wilkes in the late 1950s. For more than 60 years, the Wilkes family generously made it available to the Saluda community for fishing, swimming, and picnicking. The park has since been a popular community gathering spot, hosting weddings, baptisms, and family reunions.

Current owners James T. Wilkes III, of Sarasota, Florida and William Wilkes, of Hendersonville—children of the late Mr. and Mrs. Wilkes—and Holly Wilkes, of Saluda, have continued to manage Twin Lakes as a community park. To ensure that the park would be available to Saludans forever, the trio decided to donate the land to SCLT who will own and manage it as a public park in perpetuity.

SCLT partnered with CMLC, who placed a conservation easement on the parklands to restrict future development. In addition to ensuring the perpetuity of the park, the easement preserves the scenic forest surrounding the lakes as well as safeguards water quality of the lakes and a tributary of the Green River.

“Generations of Saluda residents have reveled in the beauty and fun atmosphere at Twin Lakes—long made generously available by the Wilkes family. The continued generosity of its current landowners has ensured the park will remain open to generations to come,” said Tom Fanslow, CMLC’s Land Protection Director. “The collaboration between SCLT and CMLC achieves our mutual goal of enhancing community access to natural lands in the Saluda area.”

Saluda Community Land Trust was formed in 2007 to preserve Saluda’s rural character by preserving farm and forest land in and around the town. For more information about SCLT, visit saludaclt.org.

Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy partners with landowners and organizations to protect land and water resources vital to our natural heritage and quality of life. Since 1994, CMLC has protected nearly 23,000 acres of farm, forest, park and natural lands in WNC. For more information about CMLC, visit carolinamountain.org