In 2018 the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy purchased 123 acres including the western flank and summit of Brushy Knob, one of the Seven Sisters near Black Mountain, NC. To celebrate the acquisition of this valuable conservation land we led an educational hike along the outer rim of the Montreat Wilderness. Participants learned about SAHC’s role in conservation in the Black Mountains and were able to see the new acquisition firsthand. The hike consisted of 3,000′ of elevation gain over 8.5 miles! The following is one participant’s reflection on the outing…
Landowner Perspective: Russ and Stacy Oates on Protecting Elk Fork
“Stacy and I came from families that love the outdoors and feel deep connection with wild things and wild places. Growing up on opposite coasts (Stacy in the Napa Valley of California and me in eastern North Carolina), we were both fortunate to have many opportunities to get outside and enjoy the wonders of Nature. We were married in 1984 and, 4 months later, moved to Alaska where I worked as a Wildlife Biologist for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Our two daughters were born in Fairbanks in 1986 and 1988, and we settled into family life. In 1995, we decided it was time to get some financial advice to ensure that we could afford to send the girls to college and have a chance of being able to retire. The first thing our new financial advisor said to us was “What are your dreams?” Stacy and I shared an interest in wild lands conservation, so we told the advisor about our dream to protect some woodland. His immediate response was “Buy it now or you never will.” Read more
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. Read more
Appalachian Trail thru hiker Daniel White grew up in the Shiloh community of Asheville and now lives in Charlotte. Last year, he set off hiking the AT to gain a new perspective on life. Unlike many who make the trek, Daniel started his journey without any backpacking experience. Now he’s become an ambassador for outdoor recreation.
“I hadn’t slept in a tent until three days before I started,” he says. “Growing up in Asheville, the trail was there all the time, but nobody introduced me to it. Once I got started, it was a learning experience. I was only planning to hike for a couple months, but then I really got into it and didn’t want to stop.”
Daniel hopes to use his own experiences to encourage others to get outdoors and enjoy nature. Read more
In 2018, SAHC accepted a donated conservation easement on 526 acres in Swannanoa owned by Chemtronics, Inc. The conservation easement permanently protects land adjoining Pisgah National Forest, as well as scenic views from the Blue Ridge Parkway, I-40 and NC Highway 70.
“This landscape is important to the surrounding Swannanoa community, and we are pleased to be able to permanently protect these ridges,” says Executive Director Carl Silverstein. “The conservation easement area provides important wildlife corridors and will create an undeveloped buffer adjoining other protected lands.”
The forested, steep slopes of the property rise to elevations over 3,580 ft. The tract adjoins a large block 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, which is located less than a mile away. The Audubon Society’s Black and Great Craggy Mountains Important Bird Area covers a portion of the property. This Important Bird Area provides habitat for a wide variety of species, including: Black-throated Blue warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Canada Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, Pine Siskin, and Dark-eyed Junco. Read more
We purchased 170 acres in two adjoining tracts at Strawberry Gap and Stony Point near the Eastern Continental Divide to protect water resources, plant and animal habitat, and scenic views from public trails and scenic byways. We plan to own these properties for the long term and manage the forests to promote resilience, diversity and longevity. Read more
On Saturday, September 30th, we continued our “For Love of Beer and Mountains” series on a hike to Upper Catawba Falls. Catawba Brewing Company collaborated with SAHC to create a beer called Breezy Brae Biere de Miel, a honey farmhouse ale brewed with local Wild Mountain Bee Honey.
The Catawba Falls Hike was led by our new AmeriCorps Conservation Education and Volunteer Member Emily Adler, along with conservation property life estate holders Rick and Melinda. The group began on an SAHC conservation easement, hiking down to the Catawba Falls on a route few people get to visit. Read more
We purchased 200 acres near the headwaters of the Catawba River, located southeast of the Town of Black Mountain. It bridges two SAHC conservation easements and a corner of Pisgah National Forest. On its west side, the property adjoins 400 acres protected by the SAHC conservation easement at Christmount. On the east lies 329 acres that landowners Mary and Joe Hemphill worked with SAHC to protect with a conservation easement in 2003. The Glade Creek tract was owned by Joe’s sister, Lynn Hemphill Wolter, and her husband Bill. Read more
We recently worked with the Town of Weaverville to place a conservation easement on 310 acres of the Weaverville Watershed. The easement protects important headwaters of Reems Creek as well as forested habitat and scenic views from Reems Creek Valley.
“This property provided drinking water to the Town of Weaverville for 80 years and is important for conservation because of its water resources,” said Land Protection Director Michelle Pugliese. “It contains the headwaters of Eller Cove Branch and 12 of its tributaries, which run into Reems Creek and eventually the French Broad River. One of the best ways to preserve water quality downstream is by protecting a river’s headwaters – and that is exactly what has happened here. We are grateful to the Town of Weaverville for taking the step to protect this tract and its natural resources for posterity.” Read more
We purchased 60 acres adjoining the Asheville Watershed and SAHC’s 492-acre Laurel Ridge Preserve. The acquisition protects a headwater tributary of Laurel Branch, which flows into the Swannanoa River. This property is an important addition to the large network of over 125,000 acres of public and private protected land in the Black and Craggy Mountains.
“This tract is a portion of a larger property that was a boys’ summer camp for several years,” explains Land Protection Director Michelle Pugliese. “It bridges two previously unconnected units of SAHC’s 492-acre Laurel Ridge Preserve and joins the Asheville Watershed. By connecting both sides of our Laurel Ridge Preserve, it creates a critical conservation corridor.” Read more
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372 Merrimon Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801