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Asheville City Soccer teams with WNC Nature Center in Hellbender campaign

ACSC teams with WNC Nature Center in Hellbender campaign

By Kristy Kepley-Steward, 02/20/22, 7:15AM HST


Asheville City Soccer Club is excited to announce a new multi-year partnership with the Western North Carolina Nature Center.

The WNC Nature Center is a 42-acre zoological park operated by the City of Asheville. The Nature Center connects people of all ages with the plants and animals of the Southern Appalachians. They also provide conservation education to help visitors understand their part in protecting the wild home of animals like the hellbender.

Hellbenders, the gentle giants of the salamander world, are the longest living amphibians in the world. They take up residence under rocks in many of the large, cool and clean mountain waterways around Western North Carolina. 

In recent years, the popularity of hikers stacking stones on their travels has greatly impacted the hellbender habitat. 

The endangered amphibians thrive in pristine Appalachian rivers, living under those pretty river stones in the waters around the region. Those rocks are used as a form of protection from predators and as a safe place to wait and watch for prey. 

For every rock moved to create a photogenic structure for Instagram, a hellbender could be displaced or die.

As part of the partnership between ACSC and the WNC Nature Center, a special t-shirt will be sold this season with the proceeds going to help the Nature Center in their quest to raise awareness and care for hellbenders. 


Additionally, the WNC Nature Center will join the Blues on Friday, May 20, for a doubleheader night welcoming both Dalton Red Wolves SC and North Carolina Fusion to Memorial Field. 

For those wanting to learn more about hellbenders, swing by the Nature Center to meet their resident hellbender Meatloaf! Meatloaf came to the Nature Center in 2008 after a local fisherman caught him on their fishing hook. The local brought the hellbender into the Nature Center, not knowing what exactly he had caught. Since then, Meatloaf has helped educate residents and tourists alike on the importance of protecting the hellbender habitat.

Founded in 2016, ACSC was created as a way to help local players pursue their dreams and grow the game while using soccer as a way to give back to the community. Asheville City’s women’s and men’s teams will return to play in the summer of 2022.

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