Update – Future Pisgah View State Park

The future Pisgah View State Park in western North Carolina is beginning to take shape. The centerpiece of the unit will be created from land owned by the Cogburn family since the late 1700s. The family opened Pisgah View Ranch in 1941, and it became a beloved spot for generations of guests to gather for events and outdoor recreation. In 2019, the Cogburn family decided to sell the land to the state of NC for creation of a new state park – the first in Buncombe County. Thanks to an allocation in the NC state budget passed this year, the planned acquisition of land for the park could be completed within two years.

The Process of Creating a State Park

Pisgah View Ranch in foregound, Newmans forested tract in left backgroundNC state parks are funded mostly through the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF), and the Land and Water Fund, private donations, and, on the rare occasion, special appropriations. Timing for completing acquisitions for the future park depends in part on the total amount designated for PARTF in the state budget each biennium.

“Each year, the division of parks and recreation will request Parks and Recreation Trust Fund monies to purchase the initial lands for the park,” said Katie Hall, public information officer for the division. “How quickly we purchase the lands for the park will depend on balancing priorities across the park system and annual funding to PARTF from the General Assembly.”

“Since the 2008 recession the state’s trust funds have been woefully underfunded,” according to SAHC board advisor Jay Leutze. “Initially the timeline for acquiring over 1500 acres for the future Pisgah View State Park was up to five years. However, with the passage of the NC state budget in November it looks like that acquisition will be completed sooner rather than later.” The budget included a specific appropriation of funds for acquisition of land for the future Pisgah View State Park.  The budget also included significant increases for the state’s three trust funds for land and water conservation, parks and recreation, and farmland preservation. Read more

Tanasee Ridge

Hiking at Tanasee Ridge

Working with trusted conservation partners, we recently protected 109 acres at Tanasee Ridge, adjoining Nantahala National Forest. The property could potentially provide an alternate gateway to popular outdoor recreation areas in Panthertown Valley. Thank you for helping to make this project possible!

“This tract has long been a priority for conservation,” says Conservation Director Hanni Muerdter.  “Permanent protection of the Tanasee Ridge property will enhance the public experience of using the forest.” Read more

Chestnut Mountain

 

Chestnut Mountain is close to highway accessUnique habitat and clean water conservation project paired with exciting potential for outdoor recreation! We have purchased 448 acres at Chestnut Mountain near the Town of Canton, permanently protecting sources of clean water and forested habitat in an important wildlife corridor. SAHC plans to give the conserved property to the Town of Canton, after we finish raising funds that are needed to re-pay a bridge loan we took out to buy the property. This will create the possibility for easily accessible outdoor recreation just off US Hwy 19/23 and Interstate 40.

Animal track“This property is dynamic, with a mosaic of habitat types – which is really good for wildlife – and different settings for people to enjoy various types of experiences on the land,” says Conservation Director Hanni Muerdter. “The property starts at 2,360 feet elevation at Hwy 19/23 and then rises to 3,400 feet at the peak of Chestnut Mountain.  At the higher elevations, forested ridgelines and coves situated in an important wildlife corridor provide exceptional habitat for plants and animals. It contains pockets of gentle mature hardwood forest with laurel and rhododendron, forested slopes facing a variety of directions, and an open field and early successional edge area beneficial for birds. The amount of wildlife activity on the tract is truly impressive!” Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more