Boyd Cove Conservation Easement

We protected 88 acres in Boyd Cove, adding to thousands of protected acres in the Newfound Mountains of Sandy Mush. Landowners Pattie and Ed Ellis, Kate Tierney, and Kara Powis worked with us to protect the forested cove with a conservation easement, ensuring that plant and animal habitat and water sources on the property will remain undisturbed for future generations.

“Pattie and Ed Ellis have documented over 100 species of plants and animals during their 30+ years on this property,” says Land Protection Director Michelle Pugliese. “They also located 15 springs across the cove. This conservation easement will help protect habitat and clean water in the French Broad River watershed.”

Mike Ellis with boulder on property

Mike Ellis, son of landowners Ed and Pattie Ellis

Pattie and Ed Ellis moved onto the property in 1981 and raised their two sons there, learning to work the land and living close to the earth on their homestead. The experience provided unique educational opportunities for their family and inspired them to permanently protect the secluded cove.

“We had decided to bring up our children in a natural way and spent a lot of time traveling and looking for a place to do that,” recalls Pattie Ellis. “When we found Sandy Mush, it felt like home. People were very friendly and helpful, and the boys learned a lot of life skills. Everyone chipped in. We learned to live off the land and gained a great respect for it. Boyd Cove is a very special, pure place, and we want it to remain that way forever. With this conservation easement, we are comforted in knowing that when we are no longer here — and even after our grandchildren or great-grandchildren are gone — it will still be protected.”

The property was once used as a tobacco farm, and the historic barn where tobacco hung to dry still stands today. Mike Ellis, Pattie and Ed’s son, remembers playing in the barn and the hillsides around it as a child. Living there, the family enjoyed sightings of a variety of animal species, including hellbender salamanders and a peregrine falcon.

“Sandy Mush is a special place, and we are glad to be part of the movement to preserve it,” says Ed Ellis. “When we learned about friends and neighbors in Sandy Mush conserving their properties, we wanted to do the same. We are grateful for the donors who have contributed so much to conservation in Sandy Mush and made it possible to protect our place. We appreciate the hard work of everyone who had a part in this — from the surveyor to appraiser to SAHC staff.”

Boyd Cove adjoins our Robinson Rough Preserve within a network of conservation lands that include the Long Branch Environmental Education Center, Sandy Mush Herb Nursery, Little Sandy Mush Bald Preserve, and other privately-owned properties. The connectivity of this large, contiguous protected landscape supports plant and animal diversity in the Newfound Mountains. Elevations on the property rise to 3,840 feet, providing ideal habitat for Yellow Poplar Cove and Mixed Hardwood forests that have remained undisturbed for decades.

The Boyd Cove tract contains over 5,580 feet of streams, including tributaries of Sandy Mush Creek. Protecting the land will protect tributaries of the French Broad Watershed from sources of sedimentation and other types of pollution.

“We are very grateful for a generous philanthropic gift from Brad and Shelli Stanback, a grant from Buncombe County, and a significant donation from the landowners themselves, all of which made this conservation easement possible,” adds Pugliese. “I am inspired by the Ellis family’s deep connection to their land, and it has been a pleasure getting to know all of them through this process.”