The Morton family, long time owners of Grandfather Mountain, have agreed to sell 2,601 back country acres of the mountain to the State of North Carolina to establish a state park.
The 604 acres that are now the scenic attraction, including the Mile-High Swinging Bridge, the museum and the wildlife refuge, were not part of the sale, nor was MacRae Meadow, site of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games.
Those acres remaining in private hands will be under a conservation easement that restricts development, but the easement will not interfere with the Highland Games or other uses of that sort.
Management of the attraction, and of MacRae Meadow, will transfer to a non-profit corporation, of which Crae Morton will continue as CEO. In its new incarnation, Grandfather Mountain plans to establish a wildlife and ecological research center to be partly supported by revenues from visitors, with the scenic attraction to continue in its current form. The NC Division of Parks and Recreation will manage the back country, and no changes in use or policies are contemplated.
At the signing ceremony, Crae Morton said that his grandfather, Hugh MacRae Morton, was always quick to point out he was not the owner, but the caretaker of Grandfather Mountain. "He felt like this was God's mountain and the mountain of the people of North Carolina," Crae said. "This is a happy day for the people of North Carolina, for staff members of Grandfather Mountain, for my family and myself."
Although the agreement has been signed and the
purchase price of $12 million agreed upon, the deal must still be approved by the NC legislature, sometime early in 2009.