In 2018, SAHC purchased 123 acres near Black Mountain, NC, permanently protecting the crest of one of the “Seven Sisters.” Brushy Knob is also known as “Big Piney.” It is the third Sister in the chain of summits straddling the Asheville watershed and Montreat, counting from the southwest to the northeast.
Our purchase of this tract will protect the western flank of Brushy Knob from ever being developed as real estate. Its eastern slopes are already protected by a conservation easement that we have held since 2004 on the 2,450-acre Montreat wilderness.
Brushy Knob is one of a tight cluster of peaks south of Greybeard Mountain that are officially named the Middle Mountains on USGS maps, but which are more commonly known as the Seven Sisters. These mountains form a prominent beloved part of the view from the Town of Black Mountain, the Craggy Mountains, and Swannanoa area east of Asheville.
Tucked in a corner between the vast protected areas of the Asheville Watershed and Montreat Wilderness (which SAHC began protecting in 1998), the newly purchased Brushy Knob preserve encompasses forested slopes, rock outrcoppings, and the summit of Brushy Knob itself (over 4160 ft. elevation).
SAHC plans to own and manage this property for the long term as a nature preserve. It contains multiple headwater tributaries and more than a half mile of Walker Branch, which flows into the North Fork of the Swannanoa River. It adjoins hundreds of thousands of acres of contiguous, protected land in the Black Mountains that includes the Asheville Watershed, Pisgah National Forest, Mount Mitchell State Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Our acquisition of this land protects important biological and ecological areas, including a portion of the Audubon Society’s Black and Great Craggy Mountain Important Bird Area.
The purchase was made possible by a generous donation from Brad and Shelli Stanback and several generous SAHC members who have asked to remain anonymous. The former landowners Jim and Marcia Verbrugge made a significant contribution of land value. They sold the property to SAHC for less than half its appraised value. They also made a major gift for the transaction costs and long-term stewardship of the new preserve. We are deeply grateful to Jim and Marcia for being so committed to seeing their land protected forever.
Landowner Perspective: Jim & Marcia Verbrugge
“We love the beauty of the steep slopes, the unique rock formations, the lovely stands of a variety of old trees, and the quiet of the forest at higher altitudes,” say former landowners Jim & Marcia Verbrugge.
“We wanted to preserve it as it is for the enjoyment of future generations. The SAHC is the best organization to accomplish this, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to work with them.”