SAHC Honored with Pigeon River Award

On Tuesday December 3, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Haywood County Agricultural Advisory Board, and The Conservation Fund received Haywood Waterways Association’s Pigeon River Award, an award honoring individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to protecting land and water resources in Haywood County. SAHC has been conserving land in the county since the early 1990s — from the first conservation easement at Cataloochee Ranch to recent protection of 139 acres in the Beaverdam watershed and 50 acres in Crabtree.

“Haywood County is such a special place, and we are lucky to have so many great organizations, landowners, community leaders, and funders working to permanently protect its land and water resources – it takes all of us,” says Conservation Director Hanni Muerdter. “We’re honored to receive the Pigeon River Award along with wonderful partners at Haywood County Agricultural Advisory Board and The Conservation Fund. SAHC will continue to team with partners and willing landowners to protect the scenic vistas, wildlife corridors, fertile soils, and land securing clean water in Haywood.”

To date, SAHC has protected 38 properties in Haywood County, totaling over 12,100 acres. Some of the organization’s most notable conservation projects in the county include: SAHC’s first conservation easement project, which was accomplished at Cataloochee Ranch on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1993; the addition of 240 acres to the Cold Mountain Game Lands; 7,300 acres of the Waynesville Watershed, a NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund project in partnership with the Conservation Trust for NC; and 874 acres in the Town of Canton’s Rough Creek Watershed, another Clean Water Management Trust Fund project, which provides miles of hiking and mountain biking trails for public use.

In the past 12 months, SAHC has purchased 187 acres behind the I-40 rest area in the Pigeon River Gorge near Hurricane Ridge to protect animal habitat in an important wildlife corridor; 139 acres in the Beaverdam Watershed area of Haywood County, linking the Town of Canton’s Rough Creek watershed property with an existing SAHC preserve at Doubleside Knob; and 50 acres in Crabtree near the Buncombe/Haywood county line in order to protect corridors for wildlife movement, water quality, scenic views, and farmland. Last December, SAHC also completed agricultural conservation easement projects protecting 385 acres of multi-generational family farmland in Rogers Cove in Crabtree.

“Permanently protecting areas of low-impact use reduces land use pressure, stormwater impacts, and the consequent degradation of water quality,” says Eric Romaniszyn, executive director of Haywood Waterways Association. “We appreciate and support SAHC’s work and all our Haywood County partners to protect these lands, and in turn, maintain the high quality of our watersheds.”

SAHC is grateful for the support of many partners and contributors who make these projects possible, including our members, private donors, The Pigeon River Fund of The Community Foundation of Western North CarolinaN.C. Clean Water Management Trust FundN.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Services.

Stanley A. Murray, Inducted into Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame


smurraySAHC founder Stan Murray was inducted into the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame last year, and retired Roan Stewardship Director Judy Murray traveled to Boiling Springs, PA (the “Half-way” point on the AT) to accept the award in his behalf.

Stanley A. Murray, along with Benton McKaye and Myron Avery, was one of the most important individuals in the early history of the Appalachian Trail. Read more

SAHC Staff Win Award for ‘Striving Not to Drive’!

SAHC staff (L to R: Pauline Heyne, Hanni Muerdter, and Michelle Pugliese) receive the workplace challenge award at Asheville City Hall.

On Tuesday, August 13, SAHC was recognized at the regular Asheville City Council meeting for winning this year’s “Strive Not To Drive Workplace Challenge” in the category for organizations of 11-30 employees. In May, SAHC staff competed with staff from other organizations, making a pledge use a mode of transportation other than driving alone for a week. Read more

Jay Leutze honored with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine

jayaward_enews.jpgIf you’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing Jay Leutze eloquently speak about the rare diversity of botanical life in the Highlands of Roan, or belt out a melodic serenade with his conservation song, you can understand why he was recognized this past January with the prestigious Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is the highest honor the governor can bestow on a North Carolina citizen. It is presented to individuals in recognition of a proven record of extraordinary service to the state.

Over the years, Jay has been an ardent supporter of conservation. He grew up hiking, camping, and exploring the fragile wonder of the Southern Appalachians.  In 2008, Jay helped pass state legislation authorizing the Yellow Mountain State Natural Area adjacent to the Highlands of Roan. He also stopped the proposed Putnam Mine, which would have devastated views from the Appalachian Trail in the Highlands of Roan. The story of this heroic battle is the topic of his book “Stand Up That Mountain.”

We are sincerely thankful for Jay’s ongoing, outstanding conservation work with SAHC!

Buncombe County Conservation Hall of Fame Awards 2010

William Hamilton and Martha & Porter ClaxtonThursday, September 16th, the Members of the Buncombe County Land Conservation Advisory Board (LCAB) held the 3rd Annual Buncombe County Conservation Hall of Fame Awards at Claxton Farm in Weaverville, NC to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments in  conservation in Buncombe County. The LCAB helps promote the use of voluntary land conservation easements to preserve the county’s beauty and ecology.

Carl Silverstein, Executive Director of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and Board Member of the Buncombe County LCAB, presented awards to landowners that had given donations of conservation easements during the past year through SAHC. Among those who received awards were Martha Ann and Porter Claxton and Fairman and Kate Jayne who are all landowners that have partnered with SAHC to establish conservation easements on their properties. The Claxton’s hosted the event on their property and were named Conservationists of the Year.