In 2004 the Mountain Retreat Association (MRA) placed about 2,500 acres of wilderness property into a conservation easement. This action was brought about by the vision, urging, and work of members of the community, staff, and the MRA Wilderness Committee. Prior to this easement small sections of forest had been protected but there was uncertainty and threat of development on wilderness lands. Since the easement has been put in place, more lots have been placed in the easement bringing the total protected wilderness area up to around 2,800 acres. The Montreat Conference Center works with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy to ensure that this wilderness remains protected in perpetuity.