South McDaris Ridge

The rocky face of South McDaris Ridge stands as a sentinel above the upper reaches of Reems Creek valley, just across from the Woodfin Watershed conservation easement. In December 2023, […]

Emerald Ash Borer Research

Parasitoid wasps provide hope against the invasive emerald ash borer. In a synergistic project combining forest health, education, and conservation, SAHC has teamed up with researchers from NC State University […]

Treating Hemlock Trees with HRI

As a result of the hemlock wooly adelgid’s introduction to the eastern United States from Japan in the 1950s, nearly 90% of eastern and Carolina hemlocks along the east coast, […]

Reems Creek Bowl

The summits of the Craggy and Black Mountains cap the horizon of Reems Creek Valley just outside Weaverville, NC. It is a stunning backdrop that epitomizes what we love about the southern Appalachians. An important side ridge off the crest of the Craggies was recently for sale and could have been purchased for development, which would have detracted from Pisgah National Forest and conserved land just west of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Fortunately, this beautiful 229-acre tract is now an SAHC-owned nature preserve. Wildlife will continue to roam the mountainside, and headwater streams of Reems Creek will flow pristine while people enjoy the beautiful forested views for many years to come. Read more

Ballard Cove – 63 Acres

A lot of good in this world is done by people who see a problem and say to themselves, “I’m going to do something to help with that.” Or, who […]

Bill Popper Memorial – Prices Creek Preserve

Bill Popper close up photo

William Denis Popper,  December 11, 1960 – April 21, 2009

A quiet, studious man intent on making a positive impact on the world, Bill Popper contacted Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy in the early 2000s about permanently protecting his cherished land in Yancey County. Diagnosed with lymphoma, Bill wanted to ensure that the land he loved would be protected in the future. His passion for nature, and for doing good for people and the planet, are enshrined in the Prices Creek Preserve — his conservation legacy.

“Bill told me his love of nature began when he was a child,” recalls Dr. Marcia E. Herman-Giddens. “From the moment we knew him, he loved nature and wanted to preserve the environment. He was an intelligent, gentle person who loved hiking and loved the land.” Read more

Cane River Headwaters

Stream cascadig over rocks

Photo by Courtland White

A conservation-minded buyer recently purchased a significant parcel in the upper Cane River watershed of the Black Mountains in order to protect it permanently from development.

The landowner  donated a conservation easement to Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy on 60 acres of the property, which contain the main stem and a tributary of the Cane River, a pristine trout stream significant for its aquatic habitat. The property subject to the conservation easement will become part of a fishing club that stewards the Cane River headwaters. The conservation easement will permanently protect pristine streams and exceptional habitat in a stunning section of the Black Mountains.

Members of the Carolinas Nature Photographers Association donated their time and expertise to capture the stunning conservation values of this 60-acre tract in visual form.

Personal Perspective: Randy Hunter, Board Member

Mountain Laurel

Photo by Andy MacPhillimy

Miranda “Randy” Hunter’s husband Bud was a modest force of nature who worked tirelessly to preserve land and water resources for future generations. Randy knew that the conservation of land was important to Bud, but after his death she learned more about how deep that legacy stretched.

“He was so modest about it, I didn’t even realize some of the things that he had done,” Randy shares. Bud was a member of the Cane River Fishing Club and one of the first people to reach out to SAHC about permanently preserving land owned by the club. In researching SAHC after her husband’s death, Randy learned more about the different projects he’d been involved in — including the completion of a conservation easement on the Cane River.

“Bud was aware of conservation in a way that a lot of people were not,” shares Randy. “He was convinced that easements and conservation were the only way we would have any land left. So much land use is short-sighted, and I think it’s hard to convince people that conservation pays you back in a good way. Being able to protect the land that he loved was very important in Bud’s life. He had a passion for conservation.”

Stream surrounded by trees

Photo by Michael Fredericks

Randy recalls that when Bud joined the fishing club, he would take their sons to enjoy the area whenever he could. “It’s a beautiful place — gorgeous in the fall, full of wildflowers in spring. He wanted places like that protected. I think being out there was a special treat, to be able to fish in that wonderful place and bond together. Both boys are very reverent about the outdoors. I think he set a wonderful example for the children in terms of caring for the land and preserving it.”

Now, one of Bud’s sons has taken his place in the fishing club. “I think it’s neat that the grandchildren have learned to fish up there,” says Randy. “They are carrying on Bud’s legacy.”

Salamanders in the Swannanoa Mountains

Desmognathus-monticola - salamander close-up

Desmognathus monticola, photo credit Tom Ward.

Have you seen a salamander lately? These vibrantly speckled and spotted amphibians come bearing good news. If you’ve seen them in an area you have hiked or explored, the water quality and habitat of that area is probably pretty good! Salamanders are sensitive to environmental changes, so finding an abundance of salamanders means the land and water are healthy for other species, too — including humans. Conservationist Tom Ward has discovered that night is the best time to photograph these shy but enchanting creatures.

Desmognathus-quadramaculatus - salamander

Desmognathus quadramaculatus, photo credit Tom Ward.

“My great-grandfather built a cabin on the property 95 years ago, and the property has been in my family ever since,” recalls Tom. His family wanted to ensure that this special place was never developed, so they worked with Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) to permanently protect 114 acres with a conservation easement in 2011. A mile and half of stream corridor through the property creates excellent habitat for salamanders. With a Masters degree in biology, Tom has a particular interest in documenting species on the property and has reported his findings to the NC Natural Heritage Program, contributing to citizen science in the state. So far he has identified 10 species of salamander on the family’s protected land. Read more

Hickory Nut Gap Forest

View of Orchard and Distant Mountains from HIckory Nut Gap Forest tractThe rolling route along Drover’s Road Scenic Byway from Fairview to Bat Cave affords beautiful views of mountain peaks, forests, and farmland protected by SAHC – from flat, fertile bottomlands to the top of Little Pisgah Mountain, Blue Ridge Pastures, and Strawberry Gap. Now, 26 more acres of the picturesque landscape at Hickory Nut Gap Forest have been permanently protected. This recently conserved land includes a heritage apple orchard, open area, and forest, partially surrounding the Sherrill’s Inn, a designated Historic American Building.

Horse in pasture at Hickory Nut Gap Forest “Although this new conservation easement is small in acreage, it adds to hundreds of acres at Hickory Nut Gap Forest, which SAHC began protecting in 2008,” explains Land Protection Director Michelle Pugliese. “When I look at this conservation easement, I think about preserving the historic setting of places like the Sherrill’s Inn, protecting the natural land close to what it was like back when the inn was originally built and used as a stop-over for people traveling across the mountains. I’m excited that this project preserves the surrounding context of this historic site, as well as habitat and agricultural resources. This is a great example of how a smaller conservation easement can make a big impact.” Read more

Bowditch Bottoms – 87 Acres

Bowditch Bottoms with Celo Mtn in background

Bowditch Bottoms with Celo Knob in the background, photo by Catherine Pawlik, Carolinas’ Nature Photographers (CNPA)

The Bowditch Bottoms project has been a long time in the process – beginning in 2014 – and we are thrilled that it successfully closed in June! This 87-acre property in Yancey County contains important soils, farmland, undeveloped forested and non-forested habitat for wildlife, headwaters to the South Toe River, and intact wetland and riparian corridors. It is visible from the Mount Mitchell Scenic Byway and several higher-elevation vantage points in the Black Mountains and the Highlands of the Roan. Read more