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After 36 Years, Soil & Water Director Gary Higgins Announces Retirement


Buncombe County is honored and excited to celebrate the retirement of Soil & Water Conservation Director Gary Higgins. He is leaving us after 36 years of service. In 1983, Gary joined the County as a Soil Conservationist. Prior to that, he worked for the Soil & Water Conservation District helping repair damage from the 1977 flood as a Construction Inspector and Soil Conservation Technician.

After nearly four decades, Gary has made a significant impact on helping landowners preserve their natural resources and undoubtedly has made Buncombe County a better place with his conservation expertise and relentless work ethic. He notes that it’s hard to single out a favorite memory, rather he appreciates reflecting on all the completed conservation projects that have improved the County’s environment. “I have always taken a great deal of pride in seeing projects put on the ground, and we have had many over the years that I have worked here,” notes Gary.

Moving forward, Gary says he will miss helping landowners solve their natural resource issues. “However, I will miss working with the team here at Soil and Water Conservation the most. We have been very fortunate to have had a lot of great people work at the District, and we have a fantastic team working here now,” he says. “And of course, I will miss working with our Board of Supervisors and all the great County employees.”

However, Gary says retirement will offer the chance to pursue hobbies and other interests. “I look forward to having more time for travel, hobbies, and getting caught up on all the projects I have been putting off,” he says.

Of course, his coworkers say he’ll be sorely missed and the Soil & Water Conservation team offered this statement on their outgoing leader: “Gary has exceptional dedication and commitment to the District, working dawn until dusk to promote conservation in Buncombe County. With the strongest work ethic we know, he has guided the District by creating the state cost share program and the County farmland preservation and environmental education programs. Gary is one of the hardest working people we know, and the kindest, most considerate boss that we could ever ask for. It has been an honor to work for him over the years, we have learned so much and will miss him greatly! We are so excited for him in this next chapter in his life — for him to take time for himself, after dedicating so much to serving the landowners of Buncombe County. In Gary’s future, we see lots of road trips, hiking, and barn hunting with his loyal Blue Heeler Annie.”

Congratulations Gary! Buncombe County has been lucky to have your expertise, dedication, and leadership the last 36 years. His last day is Nov. 29, please join us at a reception honoring Gary.

What: Gary Higgins retirement party

When: Thursday, Nov. 21, 2-4 p.m.

Where: Soil & Water Conference Room, 49 Mount Carmel Road, Asheville.