Thunderstruck Hike 2018

“You can do this, Izzy, it’s only October,” I tried to convince myself as I braced for the angry, bitter, frigid wind outside in the parking lot. I was at the carpool rendezvous point at 8:30 am, 15 minutes before the group would arrive, and I needed to get breakfast. I opened the latch – come what may.

Steaming, painfully hot coffee in one hand, toasty vegan breakfast burrito in the other I was able to wait outside for the rest of my participants to arrive. I should have packed a thicker sweater. In total, eight of us met for the carpool – the rest would join us at the trailhead at Waterrock Knob.

I had the privilege of riding with my good friend Nico and two new friends Art and Wes. Adrienne Lenker’s new LP abysskiss played on my stereo as we ascended the Blue Ridge Parkway. Time slid effortlessly by as we discussed the finer points of stealth camping. Read more

Clawhammer Hike 2018

“The sounds of Alison Krauss’ debut filled the gaps in spirited conversation between excited, carpooling hikers.

“Steel rails chasin’ sunshine round the bend. Winding through the trees like a ribbon in the wind.”

Having filled up the trunk with Clawhammer Oktoberfest Marzen Lager from Highland Brewing Company, we were finally approaching the trail head. Today we would ascend approximately 1,500 feet over a distance of 10.5 miles to the summit of Clawhammer Mountain in Pisgah National Forest.

As part of our “For Love of Beer and Mountains” partnership, Highland Brewing Company’s seasonal brews are named after natural elements of the Southern Appalachian landscape.

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Sorrells Meadow

SAHC staff Caitlin, William, and Michelle atop Sorrells MeadowOn December 19, we assisted the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) with the purchase of 82 acres at Sorrells Meadow, to be added to the Cold Mountain Game Lands in Haywood County. With a remarkable mix of high elevation open meadow, forest communities, and pristine water sources, the property provides excellent wildlife habitat as well as opportunities for public recreation. It adjoins existing Cold Mountain Game Lands to the north and the Shining Rock Wilderness of Pisgah National Forest at its southern tip, within a quarter mile of the Art Loeb National Recreational Trail.

“Sorrells Meadow will be a crown jewel for the Cold Mountain Game Lands,” said Farmland Program Director William Hamilton. “The open meadow atop this 82-acre addition to the public game lands is one-of-a-kind in this area. If it had been developed, you would have been looking down on houses or condos from popular public trails. Now, that won’t happen.” Read more

Cedar Creek Hike

img_3252On Saturday, November 12th, we hosted a hike on our lovely 600-acre Webb Conservation Easement near Panthertown Valley in Jackson County. This beautiful property is bounded on the north side by Cedar Creek, a high quality tributary flowing into Webb Lake, which provides habitat for native brook trout. All water on the property eventually drains into the West Fork of the Tuckaseegee River, and on into the Little Tennessee River.

On the day of the hike, we were met at the property by members of the Webb family who own the property – Billy, Jimmy, and Jean Webb, as well as Julia Gaskin. The family introduced themselves briefly, and Billy, Jimmy, and Julia accompanied us on the hike. Read more

Cold Mountain – 162 Acres Protected!

Pygmy salamander_Chris Wilson large

On Friday, June 17, we purchased a 162-acre tract of land on the northwestern slope of Cold Mountain, in the Dix Creek watershed. The Haywood County tract contains an exceptional variety of forest communities and potential habitat for rare species.

“Lying on the northwestern slopes of the iconic Cold Mountain, this property adds to a network of public lands that includes Pisgah National Forest, Shining Rock Wilderness and the Cold Mountain Game Lands, as well as being in close proximity to Lake Logan,” said Michelle Pugliese, SAHC Land Protection Director. “It is a region that exemplifies both the beauty and ecological significance of our mountain lands. SAHC is proud to be a part of expanding the area’s protected landscape.” Read more

Cold Mountain Game Lands Assist

Staff on SiteWe assisted the NC Wildlife Resources Commission in purchasing a 64-acre tract adjoining the Cold Mountain Game Lands near Lake Logan.

The forested tract, formerly owned by the Caldwell family, adjoins the Cold Mountain Game Lands and Significant Natural Heritage Areas, ranging in elevation from 3,400 – 4,000 feet.

It was purchased by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (NC WRC) for addition to the Cold Mountain Game Lands.  Ownership by the state agency will help reduce land fragmentation and ensure that this area is protected and properly managed. Read more

Thunder on the Mountain

2014_thunderstruck_hike_view_from_waterrock_knobDrew Stevenson from Highland Brewing Company  and Kana Miller (SAHC AmeriCorps PR and Outreach Associate) fearlessly led our group of hikers into the clouds for a strenuous but fun October hike — the Thunderstruck “For Love of Beer and Mountains” Partnership hike to  Blackrock Mountain. Drew recounts this trek through the Plott Balsams in Jackson County, our 2nd Partnership  hike of the fall season:

“The hike group met at the Waterrock Knob overlook (elevation 6,292 feet), which gets its name from a cool stream where hunters and farmers came to quench their thirst. About 1/4 mile down from the Waterrock Knob Visitor Center we started the trail, which covers approximately 2.2 miles of up-and-down terrain, becoming very skinny at times to hug the steep mountainside.

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Blackrock Mountain – Protecting views from the Blue Ridge Parkway!

Iblackrock-summit-sw-corner-parcel.jpgn October, SAHC purchased the summit of Blackrock Mountain in the Plott Balsam Mountains of Jackson County, with more than 250 surrounding acres. We plan to hold the property and manage it as a nature preserve until it can eventually be transferred to public ownership as park lands.

“All you need to do is stand at the Plott Balsam overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway or hike the trail from Waterrock Knob, to appreciate protecting Blackrock Mountain,” said Michelle Pugliese, SAHC’s Land Protection Director. “The 5,700 ft peak contains rare spruce-fir forest and two headwater tributaries that flow down its slopes. We are so proud to have preserved this view for all to enjoy.” Read more

Landowners Protect 13 Acres in Haywood County

View of PropertyRural preservation leaders in the Bethel community of Haywood County have announced the permanent protection land along Garden Creek. The property features 13 acres of largely agricultural land, which provides corn, hay, and the critical calving unit for a larger cow-calf operation. The tract also includes a residential area, a barn, and associated farm buildings. While the public will not have access to the property, the land includes more than 1,000 feet of Garden Creek, which helps provide water for downstream farmers, the Towns of Canton and Clyde, Evergreen Paper, trout, one species of rare fish, two species of rare freshwater mussels, and hellbender salamanders. Read more

SAHC Purchases 60-acre Tract in Smoky Mountain Focus Area

Blackrock tractJust last week we closed on the purchase of a 60-acre tract in the Plott Balsam mountains, just north of Sylva in Jackson County. The Plott Balsam mountain range looms over Sylva and Waynesville in beautiful western North Carolina. These mountains are within SAHC’s Smoky Mountains focus area and the addition of this property contributes significantly to SAHC’s protection goals.

Located within the Yellow Face/Blackrock Mountain State Natural Heritage Area as well as the Plott Balsams Important Bird Area, the property has significant conservation values and adds to the connectivity of protected lands in the area. It adjoins the Nature Conservancy’s 1,595-acre Plott Balsam Preserve and is very near to the Sylva watershed park, which is protected by a conservation easement and connected to the watershed by trails maintained by Western Carolina University students. Read more