Rocky Fork – 55th TN State Park

rockyforkpark_ramsey.jpgPlans for Tennessee’s 55th state park on the stunning Rocky Fork tract were announced on a chilly October day, with early snow still blanketing the ground and a swelling group of attendees packed into the Tennessee Welcome Center off I-26 in Erwin, TN.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau joined members of the General Assembly, local elected officials and members of the community on Tuesday, October 30, for a special ceremony announcing the future conveyance of more than 2,000 acres in the Rocky Fork area of Unicoi County, that will eventually become Tennessee’s 55th state park. Read more

Jammin’ at the Gott Farm

2012-spring-031.jpgLast Thursday, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy staff members enjoyed another sensational day at Peter and Polly Gott’s idyllic farm. Tucked away deep in Madison County, the 218-acre Gott Farm is surrounded by Pisgah National Forest on two sides, there are abundant springs, wet coves full of wild edibles, viable soil for farming, and breathtaking views. Their farm is truly an ecological gem.

Our visit started out with a tour of the Gott’s log cabin, which Peter meticulously made using hand tools and historic methods. The precision and perfection of Peter’s craftsmanship was exhibited in every other building on their property as well. Peter’s tools were impeccably organized and the woodsheds were stacked so systematically, you would think the logs were books in a library. After a tour of Polly’s old art studio (which Peter also made) and their sauna by the river, the staff headed to the top of their property to enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking White Rocks and iconic Camp Creek Bald. Read more

The Plateau

dsc_0011.jpgOn December 28, we recorded a conservation easement on 112 acres of land in Madison County, near the Cherokee and Pisgah National Forests.

“The Plateau is remarkable because it fills an immensely significant gap between the Cherokee National Forest and the Pisgah National Forest. One of our primary focuses is to protect land adjacent to State and National Forests; thus, to secure a tract of land that bridges two National Forests is a spectacular accomplishment,” said Carl Silverstein, SAHC Executive Director. Read more

SAHC transfers 35 acres to the US Forest Service

2011-01-20-wesser-bald-fs-monitoring-photo-0041.jpgOn August 8th, 2011, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC)  transferred 35 crucial acres to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and the US Forest Service. Located in Macon County, North Carolina, Wesser Bald will be utilized as a buffer between ATC lands and private property which is at risk of being developed.

SAHC originally acquired the 35 acres in 2007, with the intent to sell the land to the Forest Service once the Forest Service attained the appropriate funding. Although it has been four years since the original acquisition, the transfer ensures that the ecological standards of Wesser Bald will always be upheld.  The addition of this tract, along with an adjoining 42 acres on which SAHC holds a conservation easement, closes a wide gap in a swath of contiguous Forest Service lands that were vulnerable to development. Read more

Acres along Appalachian Trail Corridor and Buck Mountain Protected

dcp01977.jpgSAHC has secured another small but significant tract of land protecting the Appalachian Trail (AT). This 13.2-acre project will leave an indelible mark on the AT viewshed. Buck Mountain’s visibility to the public makes the property an essential acquisition. Although there are no stunning viewsheds or overlooks from the property, Buck Mountain’s scenic and recreational value is immeasurable due to its lasting presence to any AT thru-hiker.

The property is located within the boundaries of the Cherokee National Forest, and abuts  the National Forest System lands on two sides and will provide consolidation and conservation of open space, viewsheds and watersheds. Read more

The Gott Farm – Preserved Forever

Peter and Polly GottThe Gott’s 218-acre farm in Madison County is an icon of responsible land management and sustainability. Peter and Polly 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. 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.” 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