Bethel Rural Community Organization
Protecting the Best of Bethel
A Brief Guide for Landowners, Businesses, Elected Officials, Visitors, and…Everyone
The Bethel Community of Haywood County in Western North Carolina seems to have it all, but maybe that’s the problem.
The Blue Ridge Parkway curves gracefully along the area’s high southern border, while Highways 215 and 276 form the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway. From almost any direction, you can spot Cold Mountain, the peak made famous by Charles Frazier’s novel and subsequent movie. Tourists and residents hike and camp in two wilderness areas within Pisgah National Forest, while others fish for trout in the upper reaches of the Pigeon River. The Pigeon also provides water for the Town of Canton and for Evergreen Packaging, the county’s largest employer. The river’s bottomlands contain some of North Carolina’s most unique alluvial soils, where farmers grow excellent tasting tomatoes, peppers, and other crops.
These great resources also attract development, and Haywood County has already lost eighty percent of its prime farmland. However, in a telephone opinion survey conducted by Mars Hill College, Duke University, and the American Farmland Trust, ninety-four percent of local residents stated that they would like Bethel to continue to be a rural agricultural community.
There is no magic solution for saving Bethel—or any other rural community in North Carolina or elsewhere in America. However, every single person can do something to help, from simple decisions about what food to put on the table to more complex decisions about what to do with the family farm.
Protect Rural Land
Support the Rural Economy
Keep Bethel Different
These aren’t the only solutions, but they can serve as building blocks for a long-term effort to protect Bethel—and other rural communities.
A Beginning, Not an Ending
The Pigeon River was named for a bird that once gathered in flocks large enough to darken the sky, but the passenger pigeon is now extinct. Surely the farms of the Upper Pigeon River watershed once seemed just as common, but those lands have been steadily disappearing.
While the final outcome for the passenger pigeon is sealed forevermore, the fate of the Bethel Community is not. It won’t be easy to protect all the great resources that Bethel has to offer, but it is possible, and the area is worthy of the attention.
Whether you are a local resident, landowner, tourist, grocer, restaurant owner, elected official, philanthropist, an employee of federal, state, or local government, or anyone else, you have a chance to make a difference – by keeping Bethel much the same. We welcome your support!
For Additional Information
To learn more about what you can do to help the Bethel Community stay rural, please explore the links on this page. For other questions, please contact George Ivey, Bethel Rural Preservation Project Coordinator, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (828) 712-6474. Thank you for helping us protect the best of Bethel!
Haywood County Produce Promotional Video
The Southwestern NC Resource Conservation and Development Council and the Bethel Rural Community Organization thank the Pigeon River Fund for its financial support for our efforts to protect the rural lands of the Upper Pigeon River Valley.”