Hiking in the Rough Creek Watershed: A respite from winter’s cabin fever.

sumac-on-ridge.jpgPersonal Perspective from SAHC AmeriCorps Stewardship Associate Margot Wallston

“After several weeks of desk time at the office, followed by several days experiencing the worst that this year’s flu season had to offer, cabin fever prompted this SAHC AmeriCorps steward to take advantage of a free Sunday to pay a visit to one of our protected properties in Haywood County, only 30 minutes west of Asheville: the Rough Creek Watershed.

Rough Creek Watershed is an 870-acre conservation easement held by the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, co-managed with  the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, and owned by the Town of Canton. SAHC was instrumental in the protection of this Smoky Mountain jewel. The watershed, which drains into Beaverdam Creek, and then into the Pigeon River, used to serve as the primary water source for Canton, but now it primarily functions as a nature preserve and public pie slice of undisturbed open space.  One of the cool things about this particular conservation easement is that it is accessible to the public. The watershed contains approximately 10 miles of well-maintained trails open for conservation-conscious hikers and bikers to explore. Read more

Volunteer crew transforms exotic invasives into hand-wrought works of art

p5050015.jpgOn May 5, 2012, SAHC stewardship staff teamed up with a dedicated group of volunteers to remove exotic-invasive species from a beautiful mountain farmstead. The crew worked for a majority of the day cutting humongous invasive oriental bittersweet vines on SAHC’s newly-acquired Robinson Rough
property.

Robinson Rough is a 248-acre property near the Sandy Mush Township in northwestern Buncombe County, NC. 216 of these acres consist of steep, craggy forestland that continues all the way up to a high-elevation ridge that is visible from downtown Asheville. The lower 32 acres contain a series of rustic cabins and scenic open pastures. SAHC was able to purchase the Robinson Rough property in late-2011 with the help of an eager seller. Read more

Garlic Mustard Pull n’ Eat Success!

jamie-pulling-garlic-mustard.jpgLast Saturday (April 7, 2012), our intrepid Stewardship staff held a volunteer workday on a piece of property SAHC owns in the Sandy Mush area of Buncombe County. The property is over 100 acres in size and almost entirely forested, with portions of lush, rich cove forest. Americorps Stewardship Associate Margot Wallston chronicled the experiences of the day:

“The month of April revealed a forest floor covered in a rich diversity of wild flowers. Unfortunately, the richness of the soil on the property also makes it susceptible to invasion by non-native, invasive species. Garlic mustard, multiflora rose, and oriental bittersweet are creeping in at an alarming rate — in fact, lately it seems like every week we observe a higher percentage of invasives.  That being said, this property is in a lot better shape than many other properties in the Sandy Mush Valley. That’s why we chose it as a target for volunteer help. It still has a fighting chance at serving as a preserve for biodiversity, especially if we invest time and energy into managing the invasives problem now. Read more

SAHC protects additional land adjoining the Sandy Mush Game Lands

norco-map-for-blog1.jpgLand adjacent to the Sandy Mush Game Lands in northern Buncombe County has been donated to the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. The newly donated 88-acre tract of land will connect the Sandy Mush Game Lands on two different sides.

This property bridges the gap between major portions of state-owned game lands, which are managed by the NC Wildlife Resource Commission (WRC).

“SAHC has played a role as a major partner in the protection of the Sandy Mush Game Lands,” said Carl Silverstein, SAHC’s Executive Director. “This property will protect a corridor for wildlife in the largest contiguous network of protected lands in this portion of northern Buncombe County. We are so pleased we were able to continue our work in preserving this area.” Read more

SAHC purchases 248 acres in Sandy Mush community – the Robinson Rough property

img_5725.jpgOn December 28, 2011, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy saved another special piece of land from development in the Sandy Mush community of Buncombe County, North Carolina. The 248-acre property holds pristine streams, steep slopes, and is adjacent to working farmlands. Due to a slow economy and eager seller, SAHC was able to acquire this valuable property at a great value.

“The property could have been sold to a developer in a heartbeat, but we acted quickly and protected another striking piece of land,” said Carl Silverstein, SAHC’s Executive Director. Located at the end of a state road with excellent access, southern exposure and creeks, the property was just waiting for a developer to buy it, according to William Hamilton, SAHC’s Farmland Program Director.

“It would have been a shame for a large development to go in right next to properties that SAHC, Buncombe County, and landowners in the area have worked so hard to preserve,” said Hamilton. Read more

Long Branch Environmental Education Center – Non-Profit education center protects 864 acres in perpetuity

dsc_0161.jpgLong Branch Environmental Education Center (Long Branch) is an educational non-profit organization located eighteen miles northwest of Asheville on the Buncombe and Haywood county line.  It was founded in 1974 as an ecological sanctuary. Since then, it has evolved into an educational center with the purpose of teaching strategies of sustainability and self-reliance.   This week, 864 of their acres in Sandy Mush and Beaverdam were protected for future generations. Paul Gallimore, Executive Director of the Long Branch Environmental Education Center, is excited about being able to conserve land while pursuing his goals for the non-profit. Read more