Weaverville Watershed – 310 Acres Protected!

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

Laurel Ridge II

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

Christmount Hike

Last Saturday, SAHC led our first guided hike of 2017 through the protected woods of our 400-acre conservation easement at Christmount. The weather was lovely, with a clear blue winter sky, allowing for beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Black Mountains. Hikers had a chance to learn about the connected landscape of protected lands in the region and to see other places SAHC has worked to protect, including the Montreat Wilderness and our Laurel Ridge preserve. Read more

Protecting Farmland in Fairview

lynch_fieldandvineyardThis year, SAHC protected a bucolic stretch of land along the Drovers’ Road Scenic Byway in Fairview. We placed 30 acres of fertile bottomland into conservation easements to safeguard the scenic vistas of the valley and working, productive agricultural land. The three adjoining tracts contain high percentages of nationally significant, prime agricultural soils, with portions actively farmed by Flying Cloud Farm and Bel Aire Farm.

“My Fairview farm holds special memories,” said landowner Popsie Lynch. “The land has been in my family for over 150 years. Over the years, this place provided home, livelihood, sustenance, and recreation for family and friends alike, offering opportunity to experience the outdoors and the beauty and tranquility of the mountains.” Read more

Headwaters Exploration

SAHC-23_Group High Quality2_brightenedTucked away in the hills of Black Mountain, NC, lies the headwaters of the Catawba River and the popular hiking destination, Catawba Falls. During the last week of May, we had the pleasure of leading a group of hikers to the upper portion of Catawba Falls, a rarely visited section of this favorite waterfall spot. Most hikers access Catawba Falls from the bottom and rarely see the upper portion of the falls, but we were able to gain access to this unique route by beginning the hike on a tract on which SAHC holds a conservation easement. This particular property in Black Mountain is a real favorite, for its incredible plant diversity, high water quality and most notably the headwaters of the Catawba River. Read more

Camby Mountain

cambymountainfromscenicbyway
Peeking above a pastoral setting of rolling hills, panoramic mountain views surround the Drovers Road Scenic Byway. In the western portion of the Fairview Farming Community, Camby Mountain dominates the skyline. Smith Farms Inc. partnered with SAHC to protect scenic Camby Mountain from subdivision and development. GD Smith, President of Smith Farms Inc., and his wife Janice Smith closed on a conservation easement with SAHC on the 58-acre mountainside above their farm in Fairview. Read more

Maney Fields – 100+ years in the family

maneyfieldsstructure.jpgOne of the most interesting things about working in land conservation is hearing stories about how people connect to the land. So often, we define ourselves by connection to place. Over generations, tracts of land become entwined in the history of a family. Staff at SAHC frequently hear statements like “I have this beautiful piece of land that’s been in my family for generations, and I don’t want to see it lost…” from landowners contacting our office, and it is truly gratifying when we see the protection of such tracts come to fruition.

When we accepted a donated conservation easement on Maney Fields, this 44-acre tract in Madison County where the corners of Madison, Buncombe, and Yancey converge — owned and treasured by one family for over 100 years — became permanently preserved. Read more

Winter Tree ID in Montreat

img_2144.jpgThis year’s winter tree identification hike took place in the beautiful Montreat Wilderness. As our intrepid, aspiring dendrologists hiked near Montreat’s streams, cold conditions and overcast skies gave way to a wonderfully pleasant western North Carolina winter day. Our guests were treated to a variety of topics, including native plant communities, forest health issues, and the cultural history of Montreat.

Chris Coxen, SAHC’s Field Ecologist, discussed basic tips for winter tree identification success. Examine the form of the tree — is it straight or does it dramatically bend to seek out sunlight (like a sourwood tree)? What does the bark look like? Are the twigs coming off of the main branches alternate or opposite? Read more

Continued Hickory Nut Gap Protection – 62 acres

turtleon-hngbyway.jpgIn mid-December, SAHC protected another tract at Hickory Nut Gap. This new conservation easement preserves 62 acres adjacent to the Florence Nature Preserve and close to the Drovers Road Scenic Byway.  The property will remain privately owned, with permanent protection against future development.

“You may recall SAHC reporting on the three properties we protected at Hickory Nut Gap in December 2013, which totaled 173 acres spanning both sides of the Drovers Road Scenic Byway,” said Michelle Pugliese, SAHC’s Land Protection Director. “This year we were able to expand the protection in the Gap by ensuring that the headwaters and tributaries of Ashworth Creek, and the intact forested views from the Drovers Road Scenic Byway, will remain pristine forever.”

Read more

Clear Skies for ‘Shroom Hunters!

group-getting-instructions-best.jpgIn the Southeast, we’ve been breaking all kinds of records for abundant rainfall through the summer – which you’d think would be great for growing mushrooms, right? Fun fact: There is such a thing as too much rain for ‘shrooms! Luckily, however, we were still able to collect a bountiful and varied assortment for our mushroom identification hike on August 14. And, we were fortunate enough to enjoy a beautiful sunny sky and clear views of the Black Mountains as a bonus.

Led by amateur mycologist Charlotte Caplan – who has spent the past 35 years learning about mushrooms – our group started out in a high mountain meadow with Mt. Mitchell and the stunning Black Mountains clearly visible in the background. Read more