HANNAH TAYLOR ’ 11
Finding His Way in the Woods
The woods have always
been a playground for
Michael Leonard ’ 75.
Love of camping
on the trail to
his life’s work
Mike Leonard ’ 75
stands on the porch
of his home in
built in 1770. He has
a passion for preserving historic buildings
and the region’s
scenic forests and
in Wake County and Morgan Creek in Chapel Hill.
“It was very natural for me to get involved in some sort
of conservation cause,” Leonard says of his direction after
Leonard, a litigation lawyer at Womble Carlyle in Winston-Salem, has worked pro bono to save land in the Carolinas,
Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia for the past three decades.
In 2010, he was awarded the North Carolina Award for
Public Service for spearheading the preservation of more
than 125,000 acres in 22 counties in the state. In total, this
ninth-generation North Carolinian has led efforts to protect
nearly 300,000 acres of Southern soil.
The conservation projects on Leonard’s resume read like
a guidebook to the mountains of North Carolina. He says
his favorite project was negotiating the deal that made
Grandfather Mountain a state park; his next favorite was
doing the same for Chimney Rock.
Other projects have included linking Alabama’s Pinhoti
Trail to the Appalachian Trail in Georgia and linking
Crowder’s Mountain State Park in North Carolina to King’s
Mountain State Park in South Carolina. (The latter established a 15,000-acre contiguous natural area and a 25-mile