Big trees, big streams, big open field — everything about Big Horse Creek is a big deal! This stunning 134-acre mountain cove harbors the cool cascades of a trout stream and plentiful places for birds and wildlife to thrive. Nestled amongst national forest land and SAHC conservation easements, the property had once been worked as a small farm and remained in the same family from the 1940s until it was recently listed on the open real estate market. Thanks to generous supporters, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy purchased the tract to permanently preserve the pristine water and habitat resources, and views from the Appalachian Trail. We look forward to sharing the property as part of our outings and education programs in the future.
Tucked away on the southeast slopes of the Roan Massif, SAHC’s new Big Horse Creek Preserve borders the Pisgah National Forest. The acquisition preserves habitat adjoining the national forest and mountain stream headwaters that support wild trout.
“Over a half mile of Horse Creek flows along the edge of the property,” says Land Protection Director Michelle Pugliese. “Its rushing wild trout waters, and those of its tributary Camp Branch, are now protected forever. These waters originate on the eastern slopes of Big Yellow Mountain and Little Hump Mountain. The Big Horse Creek property joins an extensive network of protected land in the Roan Highlands, with its high elevation 4,100-foot ridgeline lying in the shadow of the Appalachian Trail.”
If you’ve ever hiked along the AT at Little Hump Mountain, you’ve probably looked down on this property.
The Big Horse Creek Preserve is located within the Audubon Society’s Roan Mountain Important Bird Area. A former tree farm area and openings along the forest edge create early successional habitat that supports neo-tropical migratory songbirds, along with a variety of other wildlife that depend on young forests. The mixture of multiple springs and streams, forested mountainside, and sunny openings creates a variety of habitat for plants and wildlife to thrive. Securing this large-acreage tract with ridgelines, varied topography, and thriving habitat in an important network of conserved land helps preserve critical corridors for wildlife movement in the region.
SAHC is excited to be working with our new neighbors on Big Horse Creek to conduct a bioblitz to inventory the species onsite, and we will continue to manage the property to protect the natural resources in perpetuity. Thank you for continuing to help add to the permanently protected landscape in the Highlands of Roan!