Our Story

The Balsam Mountain Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and was formed by the Balsam Mountain Preserve Company (BMP) LLC in 2000. Initially, the Trusts role was to inventory and manage the Preserves land; conduct conservation education programing for Balsam Mountain Preserve members and the general public; be a consulting resource for homeowners; and provide regional environmental leadership.

Since those early days, the Trust has expanded its reach beyond the boundaries of the Preserve to become a regional leader in conservation education. Trust staff recognized the need for quality, accessible conservation-based programming in the local school systems and partnered with the Jackson and Haywood county school boards to design curricula that addressed state science standards while inspiring students to be stewards of the incredible natural resources of the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains.

Currently the bulk of the Trusts work centers around presenting Bird of Prey and other wildlife outreach programming throughout Jackson, Haywood, Macon, and Swain counties. The Adopt-A-School program brings science curriculum to 10 partner schools in Jackson and Haywood counties at no cost to the schools. In 2014, the Trust became a host site for the Conservation Trust of North Carolina (CTNC) AmeriCorpsprogram. The AmeriCorps members have helped expand the Trusts reach by providing free pollinator education programs in schools and libraries.

Most recently, the Trust worked with its Board of Trustees to allow increased community access to Preserve lands through registered programs and have instituted a grant program for local conservation efforts. It continues to provide interpretive and experiential programs for Balsam Mountain Preserve members and is constantly working on new seasonal exhibits for the Nature Center.

We look forward to many more years of interpreting, enjoying, and protecting our little corner of the Southern Blue Ridge.

Our Mission

The Balsam Mountain Trust inspires people to be responsible stewards of the natural and cultural resources of the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains through education and conservation leadership.The following programmatic themes are the basis for planning the what, when, why and how the Trust delivers to its members, friends and students which help meet its mission:

Environmental Education

Environmental Education: enlightens and entertains audiences of all ages and provides them with the knowledge and tools to engage in lifetime stewardship of the natural and cultural

Experiential Opportunity

Experiential Opportunity: the most direct way to engage and encourage the development of an environmental ethos and a sense of place

Natural and Cultural Resource Stewardship

Natural and Cultural Resource Stewardship: provides, through best management practices and engaged stakeholders, for the long-term health and preservation of all resources on Balsam Mountain Preserve

Scientific Research

Scientific Research: provides stakeholders with the most accurate way to present the complexities of the natural world to diverse audiences

Regional Environmental Leadership

Regional Environmental Leadership: engages the Trust with other area conservation organizations and stakeholders to meet regional natural and cultural resource conservation goals

Our Relationships

The Trust is uniquely situated as a nonprofit operating from within a private development. Although we now serve a broader community across Western North Carolina, we are still closely tied to the community of Balsam Mountain Preserve and remain a beneficial resource for everyone that calls the Preserve home.

The Trust:

  • Provides management expertise to maintain and interpret the bounty of natural and cultural resources found on the Preserve which belong to each member of the community
  • Offers consulting services to each member before, during and after homestead construction
  • Provides botanical inventories for each homestead
  • Develops environmental education and cultural arts programs available to every age group for lifelong learning
  • Produces publications that engage, enlighten and entertain community members
  • Cultivates and encourages participation from community members which assists them in developing a ‘sense of place’
  • Maintains (and encourages the use of) a nature center that serves as the operational heart of the Trust and its activities

Our Board

The Trust is governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees to which the executive director reports. The Board is comprised of Balsam Mountain Preserve members, local community members, and representatives of the North American Land Trust – the executor of the Preserve’s┬áConservation Easement.

2017 Officers

Janie Stratigos, chair, Atlanta, GA; Sylva, NC
Ed James, treasurer, Atlanta, GA; Sylva, NC
Linda Outlaw – secretary, Atlanta, GA; Sylva, NC

Monarch Butterfly on Milk Thistle

2017 Trustees

Mary Arbaugh, Sylva, NC
Pete Bates, Ph. D., Sylva, NC
Peter Smith, Boone, NC
Sheri Straw, Waxhaw/Sylva, NC
Al Tunstall, Sylva, NC
Carol Landers, Houston, TX; Sylva, NC
Jan Kohl, Charlotte, NC
Roy Gallinger, Sylva, NC