One of the lesser known natural jewels of the High Country is one that is not only unique, but is currently the site of one of the best examples of a community at work to protect our future.

The Todd Island Park is a 10-acre island park in the middle of the South Fork of the New River, just off Railroad Grade Road and about three miles south of the town it’s named for. It’s accessible by a foot bridge from the trailhead.

That the site has been ably managed by the Todd Community Preservation Organization is clear: TIP is designated as a Mountain Heritage Trout Waters Program by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

Over time, that management has involved combating erosion that has become dangerous for boaters and anglers, and has added significant sediment to the area, threatening wildlife.

To date, phase one of the Todd Island Park Restoration project — bank grading, in-stream structures and planting native foliage — has been successfully completed. Phase two, which comes in at a cost of about $160,000, is currently under way and through local, county, state and national resources coming together, the project funding has largely been eroded. Currently, the only funding pending are pledges from both Watauga and Ashe counties — both of which are committed to a project that will protect the area and secure its future for generations to come.

The volunteer work combined with the efforts of several nonprofit and governmental organizations has been a model for preserving the natural beauty of the High Country — and for how nature and people can coexist for mutual benefit.

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