Full stories on recent updates available on our Blog
At the very end of December 2012, SAHC purchased a 601-acre tract at Grassy Ridge in Avery County, NC, adjacent to the Pisgah National Forest and near the Appalachian Trail in the Highlands of Roan. This incredible tract borders one of the highest ridges of the Southern Appalachians, and has been one of SAHC’s top conservation priorities for four decades because of its size and location within a large network of high elevation protected lands. The property forms a high elevation corridor, linking National Forest lands on the north end with lands owned by the State of North Carolina in the Yellow Mounain State Natural Area to the south. This is truly a crown jewel of the Roan Highlands. Read more.
In mid-December 2012, SAHC purchased a
95-acre portion of historic “Lost Cove” in the remote and rugged Nolichucky Gorge, an inholding in the Pisgah National Forest. Nestled near the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, the secluded Lost Cove is a ghost town with a colorful history of self-sufficient families, railroad crews, timber, and moonshine.
“ ‘Lost Cove’ is a phrase every Unicoi County kid hears pretty early in his/her life. It has long fired our imaginations, made us curious about our mountain surroundings and our history and inspired many of us to dig deeper into - and ultimately care more about - our Appalachian heritage,” according to David Ramsey, SAHC trustee. “To me, this effort is one more example of the amazing and extremely important conservation work of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.”Read more.
This lovely 63-acre cove is located in Madison County, on the ridgeline that is the border with Buncombe County. It lies near other properties that we have protected in a relatively unfragmented corridor between the Black Mountains and the Tennessee line. The tract is a north-facing rich cove with large hardwood trees, and headwaters originating on the property flow into Terry Fork, a tributary of Ivy Creek that meets the French Broad River just south of Marshall.Landowners Hershella Smith and Jay Gleason donated the full value of the conservation easement and all transaction costs to make this project possible. Read More.
In December 2012, SAHC completed bargain sale conservation easements on two adjoining tracts at Blue Ridge Pastures, totaling 120 acres. The property is situated on the Eastern Continental Divide, adjacent to Strawberry Gap and Ferguson Knob, with an upper elevation of 3,740 feet. The tracts are adjacent to a network of protected land in Hickory Nut Gorge, including SAHC’s Hickory Nut Gap Forest conservation easement and the Florence Preserve. The Blue Ridge Pastures project also adjoins property protected by another SAHC conservation easement project completed in December – the Hickory Nut Gap Scenic Byways project. Portions of the Blue Ridge Pastures are visible from Little Pisgah Mountain, Bearwallow Mountain, the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Drover’s Road Scenic Byway. Read More.
We love the tranquil drive through Fairview along the Drover’s Road Scenic Byway. At the crest of Hickory Nut Gap, the sight of Sherrill’s Inn overlooking this scenic route recalls the 1800s, when the Flying Cloud stagecoach carried mail and passengers from Rutherfordton to Asheville, and herd drovers stopped here to rest before journeying on through the gorge. Recognizing the historic and natural treasures of this area, we successfully protected 173 acres along the Drovers Road Scenic Byway (US 74A) in December 2012, through conservation easements on three adjoining parcels. These conservation easements ensure that the land will be preserved forever, securing important views, habitat, and water resources right on the Eastern Continental Divide. Read More.
We recently purchased 260 acres visible from the Appalachian Trail and from the overlook at the Rhododendron Gardens on Roan Mountain. Located in the middle of the Yellow Mountain State Natural Area, the parcel adjoins the 225-acre Spear Top Mountain property that we acquired in December 2011. Together, these adjoining conservation projects protect the summit and three sides of the mountain! The newly purchased tract holds thriving rich cove and northern hardwood forests, extending to 4800 feet in elevation along the upper reaches of Spear Tops Mountain’s western slopes. The headwaters of Justice Creek originate on the property, and tributaries of the North Toe River, a beloved trout stream, flow through it. Read More
In early December 2012, we closed on three adjoining projects in the lush Fairview valley, securing 28 acres of prime farming bottom land for agricultural use in the future. The parcels lie alongside the Drovers’ Road Scenic Byway, below a twisting ascent up the Hickory Nut Gap. Together, these projects help ensure the protection of the scenic quality of this rural landscape, as well as the availability of rare prime soils for present and future farmers. Read More
In November 2012, SAHC purchased 89 acres, known as the Whichard property, at the southern end of the Yellow Mountain State Natural Area in the Highlands of Roan. The property can provide access to previously protected parcels in this state designated scenic area.
"Gaining a gateway to the other lands we have protected at Burleson Bald has been a priority for SAHC.” said Jay Leutze, SAHC representative and author of Stand Up That Mountain: The Battle to Save One Small Community in the Wilderness Along the Appalachian Trail. “We are thrilled to add this tract to the other lands we have protected." Read More
This 225-acre tract in the Yellow Mountain State Natural Area is one of SAHC's most spectacular pieces of land. Local residents recognize the highly visible notch in the greater Roan landscape from afar. With your feet on the ground, you'll also see endangered and threatened species such as Rock Gnome lichen and Trailing Wolfsbane, and spray cliff communities in the shadow of a 300 ft. waterfall. Rising to 4,900 ft. at the summit, Spear Tops offers remarkable views of the Highlands of Roan and is a crucial addition to North Carolina’s conservation landscape – One that was almost lost. Read More
In December 2011, SAHC protected 474 prominent acres on Little Pisgah Mountain, an iconic backdrop for the rural Fairview farming community. These new conservation easements combine with neighboring easements and other preserves to bring the total amount of land protected on Little Pisgah Mountain to more than 1,400 acres. Little Pisgah Mountain sits at the gateway to Chimney Rock, Hickory Nut Gorge, and the Continental Divide. Families who have tended land here for generations recognize the landmark. And, because the area is so close to Asheville, the development threat here is high. SAHC worked diligently to preserve the mountain summit, visible from both the Blue Ridge Parkway and Chimney Rock State Park. Read More
Rising to an elevation of 5,163 feet at the summit of High Knob, the Elk Fork Tract holds spectacular northerly views over public tracts such as Pisgah National Forest, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Mount Mitchell State Park. What makes the Elk Fork property in Yancey County significant for conservation? This sizable conservation easement provides exceptional habitat and sits close to several other prominent easements, including the Big Tom Wilson Preserve, and will help sustain unbroken views of conspicuous peaks in the Black Mountains. Read More
In December 2011, SAHC purchased 90 acres on Snowball Mountain in Buncombe County, adjoining the publicly accessible Snowball Mountain Trail. The acquisition preserves a sense of solitude for hikers along the trail as well as clean water sources for area residents and habitat for native species. Nestled in the publicly treasured Craggy Mountains, this tract is highly visible from the Blue Ridge Parkway and national forest land, adjoining the publicly accessible Snowball Mountain Trail and Camp Sequoyah Trail. Additionally, the property is adjacent to the Woodfin Watershed and contains the headwaters of Reems Creek. Read More
In October 2011, SAHC closed on this 114-acre conservation easement in the beautiful Swannanoa Mountains, protecting unbroken views from the Blue Ridge Parkway as well as important tributaries that flow into Christian Creek and the Swannanoa River. Only two and a half miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway and in close proximity to other properties held by SAHC, Jim’s Branch connects with neighboring forested land and protected properties to create natural corridors for species movement. The easement protects a large stand of mixed hardwood and rich cove forests with rock outcroppings that shelter a variety of different plants and animals. Read More
SAHC purchased the property in December 2011 in order to safeguard the mountain from development, and to protect the headwaters of a major tributary of Sandy Mush Creek. The parcel is adjacent to working farmlands and bookends a ridge in the Newfound Mountains that SAHC has been working to protect since the 1990s. Robinson Rough has beautiful creeks, sun exposure, views into the Sandy Mush valley. The tract also includes an 1885 farm house and hand-hewn cabins. Preservation in the Sandy Mush farming community has long been a priority for both SAHC and Buncombe County.Read More
This 88-acre tract donated to SAHC in December connects to the Sandy Mush Game Lands on two different sides, bridging the gap between major portions of the state-owned game lands, which are managed by the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission (WRC). This property will protect a corridor for wildlife in the largest contiguous network of protected lands in this portion of northern Buncombe County. The state holds a conservation easement on the donated property. The land will be enjoyed for birding and hunting in the future. Read More
Piecing together a quilt of protected tracts along the edge of public lands has always been a priority for SAHC. This conservation easement preserves 112 acres in a critical gap between the national forests. The Plateau property is visible from the French Broad River, Appalachian Trail, and the Dixie Highway. It lies in a corner of Madison County along the French Broad River, adjoining the Pisgah and Cherokee National Forests. The Plateau project helps secure the scenic landscape for outdoor recreation enthusiasts, visitors, and residents of the area. With approximately 17,610 feet of streams on the property, the conservation easement will also protect water quality of the Lower French Broad River. Read More
On October 14, 2011, SAHC purchased 492 acres of land adjacent to the Asheville watershed, permanently protecting stunning vistas and watershed headwaters just 19 miles outside the city of Asheville. Preserving this spectacular Laurel Ridge property from potential future development also keeps intact a major portion of views from the Blue Ridge Parkway and Craggy Gardens Visitor Center. From the Asheville Watershed to Mount Mitchell, the Laurel Ridge property connects to an expansive network of protected land in the Black and Craggy Mountains. The property rises to 4,800 feet in elevation, and contains hundreds of acres of high quality hardwood forest and several rare natural communities. Read More
SAHC and a fishing club in Avery County, NC, have partnered to preserve 210 acres of land along the spectacular North Toe River. The protected tract holds two miles of trout waters in the shadow of the Roan Massif. The property ranges in elevation from 3,400 feet at the base of the North Toe River all the way to 4,080 feet at the southernmost point and serves as a valuable buffer from sedimentation and other types of pollution. The conservation of the property protects tributaries of both the North Toe and the French Broad Watersheds.
The Appalachian Trail (AT) runs through western North Carolina and east Tennessee for hundreds of miles. Unfortunately, private land surrounding the trail corridor is sometimes targeted for development. With the recent acquisition of the 14 acre Buck Mountain Tract, SAHC and Cherokee National Forest have taken a trouble spot and turned it into a success story. The private lands were so close to the Trail that hikers often encountered non-hikers who were using the Trail for purposes inconsistent with a natural outdoor experience. SAHC wanted to add a buffer and a Forest Service presence to improve the user experience. Read More
In Summer 2011, SAHC concluded a three-year project that permanently protects land adjacent to the Appalachian Trail at Wesser Bald in Macon County, NC. SAHC transferred the 35-acre tract to the U.S Forest Service, protecting expansive viewsheds admired by through hikers and day visitors alike. The addition of this tract, along with an adjoining 42 acres that SAHC holds a conservation easement on, closes a gap in a swath of contiguous Forest Service lands that were vulnerable to development. In addition to the extraordinary views, this protected land will contribute a multitude of other benefits to the Little Tennessee River watershed, the Nantahala National Forest, and the 250,000-acre Appalachian Trail Corridor. Read More
Just a few years ago, much of Little Yellow Mountain in Mitchell and Avery counties was slated for development. Today the summit of that 5,504-foot peak is totally protected thanks to the efforts of The Nature Conservancy and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. The two organizations recently closed on a 207-acre tract rising to the summit from the west side of the mountain, ensuring that the entire mountain top will remain free of development. Eventually, all of the property will become part of Yellow Mountain State Natural Area allowing future generations to enjoy this amazing place. Read More
Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) recently worked with Joe Carson, a generous landowner in Buncombe County, who donated a conservation easement on his 37- acre property in Swannanoa. Conservation of this land is crucial because of its location. It is less than a mile from the Blue Ridge Parkway and is adjacent to the protected Asheville Watershed and Pisgah National Forest. It is also close to SAHC held conservation easements that total over 2,500 acres. This easement contributes to the network of protected lands within the Craggy Mountains and protects the scenic integrity of views from the Blue Ridge Parkway and other public roads. Read More
Long Branch Environmental Education Center (Long Branch) is an educational non-profit organization located eighteen miles northwest of Asheville on the Buncombe and Haywood county line. It was founded in 1974 as an ecological sanctuary. Since then, it has evolved into an educational center with the purpose of teaching strategies of sustainability and self-reliance. In June, 864 of their acres in Sandy Mush and Beaverdam were protected for future generations. Read More
Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy recently added 199 more acres of protected land within the Yellow Mountain State Natural Area planning boundary through a land purchase. Located along the North Carolina/Tennessee state line, the Highlands of Roan project has been SAHC's top priority since its founding in 1974. Since then, SAHC has led an effort to protect nearly 19,000 acres in the landscape. Other key partners working in the landscape include The Nature Conservancy, state parks agencies in North Carolina and Tennessee, the US Forest Service, and the National Park Service.
Located in a rural part of southern Avery County, this property on Burleson Bald adjoins land previously purchased by SAHC and also land SAHC has transferred to the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation. The addition of this tract creates a 740-acre swath of contiguous protected lands. The property is within the Yellow Mountain/ Raven Cliffs Significant Natural Heritage Area and much of it lies within a National Audubon Society Important Bird Area. Acquisition of this property also protects the viewshed from the Blue Ridge Parkway's North Toe River managed overlook. Read More
Rural preservation leaders in the Bethel community of Haywood County have announced the permanent protection of 13 acres along Garden Creek. The property features 13 acres of largely agricultural land, which provides corn, hay, and the critical calving unit for a larger cow-calf operation. The land also includes a residential area, a barn, and associated farm buildings. While the public will not have access to the property, the land includes more than 1,000 feet of Garden Creek, which helps provide water for downstream farmers, the Towns of Canton and Clyde, Evergreen Paper, trout, one species of rare fish, two species of rare freshwater mussels, and hellbender salamanders. Read More
The Gotts' 218-acre farm in Madison County, NC epitomizes responsible land management and sustainability. Peter and Polly grow their own food and take seriously their responsibility of stewarding the land. Being able to hand their property down to their children intact is one of their highest priorities. To do that, they decided to put their land into conservation easements with Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC).
The first conservation easement was completed in 2002 and protected 210 acres. The farm is now protected in its entirety; the second easement was signed on April 1st, 2011, and protects the remaining eight acres, which are adjacent to Pisgah National Forest. These conservation easements assure that the land where Peter and Polly live and raised their family will be here, relatively the same, for generations to come.
“Without the conservation easements, who knows what could happen to our farm when we're gone?” said Polly. “The conservation easements ensure that nothing will happen to this place.” The property is also within the viewshed of the Appalachian Trail and adds to the large contiguous area of protected lands in Madison County. Read More
Avery County, NC- The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) has purchased two conservation priority tracts in the Roaring Creek Valley of the Highlands of Roan, preserving Golden-winged Warbler habitat, scenic views from the Appalachian Trail and pristine waterfalls. full article
Bunccombe County, NC – Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy's Farmland Preservation Initiative grows with the addition of Claxton Farm to 3,000 acres of SAHC-protected working farmland. SAHC has partnered with landowners Porter and Martha Ann Claxton to permanently conserve 480 acres of their 550 acre property through a working lands conservation easement. full article
Erwin, TN – Tennessee’s gateway to the Southern Appalachian Mountains – the 9,624-acre property known as Rocky Fork – is now one step closer to being protected, with the property’s acquisition by The Conservation Fund and the USDA Forest Service from New Forestry, LLC. full article
The sharp zoo-zee, zoo-zoo-zee call of the Black-throated Green Warbler can be heard from the Highlands of Roan to the lower elevation river valleys in summertime, the breeding season for the songbird. Like many species in the Eastern woodlands, the Warbler relies on several types of habitats, particularly as it migrates with a team of other bird species to the Caribbean and Central America. full article Download entire NC Swap Summary