Ashe County resident and conservationist Walter Clark has been honored for his years of work preserving many of North Carolina's natural treasures, with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina's highest honor.

Clark has worked for NCDCR where he served as the Director of the Land and Water Fund, and has also served as Executive Director of the Blue Ridge Conservancy.

Clark played a key role in establishing the Pond Mountain Game Land, assisted with the expansions of Grandfather Mountain and Elk Knob State Parks, and was named Conservationist of the Year by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation.

Clark was presented with the award as part of a Blue Ridge Conservancy event, during which it was announced that Paddy Mountain, the iconic peak that is a backdrop for West Jefferson, has had 153 acres under contract to protect that land forever.

So far, Blue Ridge Conservancy has protected 22,000 acres of land across the High Country. Learn more at BlueRidgeConservancy.org.