• Roger W. Downes

Protecting Pisgah, The Pisgah Conservancy Story

A lifelong dedication from 3 thousand miles away...

When I first moved to Asheville, North Carolina in the summer of 2013 for a radio job at 99.9 Kiss Country, I never thought I would find my true love, The Pisgah National Forest. I can thank my boss at the time, Jeff Davis, for suggesting I get out of my apartment and start exploring Pisgah. It was the best blind date I had ever been on, all it took was one quick trip and I was hooked for the rest of my life.

Listen with Pisgah Conservancy Founder John Cottingham

After that, every chance I got that summer I would go out and hike to amazing waterfalls, mountain passes, and creeks. As my love affair grew I wanted to give back but after a quick inquiry I found there really wasn't a way to give back to the forest that had given me so much.

That experience started John's gears spinning as he returned home to California...

Luckily, I wasn't the only one who was concerned about giving back and protecting Pisgah. It was about that same time while retired corporate lawyer John Cottingham was visiting his hometown in Western North Carolina that he tried to donate to the forest and was turned away because there was no system to take donations from forest visitors. That experience started John's gears spinning as he returned home to California. Shortly after his plane touched down he started to research organizations that specifically supported The Pisgah National Forest and didn't find any. Yes, there were other clubs and organizations which had donated their time and monies to the forest, but not one specifically dedicated to Pisgah like other national forests and parks had.

After much research, John met with then Cradle of Forestry Executive Director Carlton Murrey and several other interested individuals. During that first meeting hearts poured out for the forest ultimately giving birth to the Pisgah Conservancy. Luckily the infant conservancy already had an attorney (John) to draw up all the necessary paperwork to get the ball rolling. Since its inception in October 2015 the conservancy has made huge strides in its mission to preserve the forest and the experiences it gives its visitors.

One of the more popular campaigns the conservancy has launched is Pisgah Pride Day where hundreds attend offering their time, muscle and money to give back to the forest they love by fixing trails, planting trees, building bridges and gathering trash to name just a few projects.

Why did this couple send Santa to jail on Christmas Eve?

Explore the complete story here...

Thanks to John Cottingham for being annoyed that he couldn't donate to the forest he loved, so now you can give back to Pisgah with money, muscle, or both. Please visit;

I would humbly ask that if you enjoy venturing out into the Pisgah National Forest that you please give back what you can to the conservancy. When you donate just one afternoon you could make a difference for generations to come. Think about it, just one afternoon could be the start of your personal Pisgah Forest Legacy.

Thank you again to John Cottingham for his dedication to the forest he fell in love with as a child. In my opinion his dedication and tenacity to this amazing natural resource is outstanding and deserves all of our thanks.


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Thank you for taking the time to read about the adventures I take, the people I meet and the places I see.  

Please get out into the natural world and enjoy all the beauty and spender that is God's artistry...

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