Conservancies Complete Protection of Little Yellow Mountain Summit

hawkmountainfarm.jpgJust a few years ago, much of Little Yellow Mountain in Mitchell and Avery counties was slated for development. Today the summit of that 5,504-foot peak is totally protected thanks to the efforts of The Nature Conservancy and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. The two organizations recently closed on a 207-acre tract rising to the summit from the west side of the mountain, ensuring that the entire mountain top will remain free of development. Eventually, all of the property will become part of Yellow Mountain State Natural Area allowing future generations to enjoy this amazing place. Read more

Key Tract Off Parkway Protected in the Craggy Mountains – 37 acres adjacent to Asheville Watershed, Pisgah National Forest, and the Blue Ridge Parkway

chauncysconeflower_carson2.jpgWe worked with Joe Carson, a generous landowner in Buncombe County, who donated a conservation easement on his 37- acre property in Swannanoa. Conservation of this land is crucial because of its location. It is less than a mile from the Blue Ridge Parkway and is adjacent to the protected Asheville Watershed and Pisgah National Forest. It is also close to SAHC held conservation easements that total over 2,500 acres. This easement contributes to the network of protected lands within the Craggy Mountains and protects the scenic integrity of views from the Blue Ridge Parkway and other public roads. 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

Conservation Success in Avery County: 199 More Acres Protected in the Highlands of Roan!

view-from-avery-airfield.jpgSouthern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy recently added 199 more acres of protected land within the Yellow Mountain State Natural Area planning boundary through a land purchase.  Located along the North Carolina/Tennessee state line, the Highlands of Roan project has been SAHC’s top priority since its founding in 1974.  Since then, we have led an effort to protect nearly 19,000 acres in the landscape.  Other key partners working in the landscape include The Nature Conservancy, state parks agencies in North Carolina and Tennessee, the US Forest Service, and the National Park Service. Read more

Landowners Protect 13 Acres in Haywood County

View of PropertyRural preservation leaders in the Bethel community of Haywood County have announced the permanent protection land along Garden Creek. The property features 13 acres of largely agricultural land, which provides corn, hay, and the critical calving unit for a larger cow-calf operation. The tract also includes a residential area, a barn, and associated farm buildings. While the public will not have access to the property, the land includes more than 1,000 feet of Garden Creek, which helps provide water for downstream farmers, the Towns of Canton and Clyde, Evergreen Paper, trout, one species of rare fish, two species of rare freshwater mussels, and hellbender salamanders. Read more

The Gott Farm – Preserved Forever

Peter and Polly GottThe Gott’s 218-acre farm in Madison County is an icon of responsible land management and sustainability. Peter and Polly take seriously their responsibility of stewarding the land. Being able to hand their property down to their children intact is one of their highest priorities. To do that, they decided to put their land into conservation easements with Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. The first conservation easement was completed in 2002 and protected 210 acres. The farm is now protected in its entirety; the second easement was signed on April 1st, 2011, and protects the remaining eight acres, which are adjacent to Pisgah National Forest. These conservation easements assure that the land where Peter and Polly live and raised their family will be here, relatively the same, for generations to come.

“Without the conservation easements, who knows what could happen to our farm when we’re gone? said Polly. “The conservation easements ensure that nothing will happen.” The property is also within the viewshed of the Appalachian Trail and adds to the large contiguous area of protected lands in Madison County. Read more

Cataloochee Ranch: A Success Story in Haywood County

Spectacular fall colors on Hemphill BaldIn the 1990’s, 67-year-old Maggie Valley resident Tom Alexander realized that he would have to do something to be able to hand down his beloved land, 1,000 mostly undeveloped acres adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, intact to his children. The land had been in his family for 60 years, but development in Haywood County had greatly increased over the past few decades and the value of his land was doubling in value about every three to four years.

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SAHC Expands Habitat for Endangered Bat

The Virginia big-eared bat (Plecotus townsendii) is an endangered bat that only lives in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky. Virginia big-eared bats prefer caves in karst regions (areas underlain with limestone bedrock and many caves and sinkholes) dominated by oak/hickory or beech/maple/hemlock forest.

SAHC expanded the bat’s habitat in the Highlands of Roan with the recent purchase of the 136-acre Views at Cranberry tract, located within one half mile of the Cranberry Iron Mines tract on which the NC Wildlife Resources Commission holds a 200-acre conservation easement in order to protect this endangered creature. Read more

Conservancies Join Together to Reach Conservation Goals on Little Yellow Mountain

Little Yellow MountainThe Nature Conservancy and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy ushered in the 35th anniversary of their conservation partnership with the joint purchase of the 104-acre Indian Saddle tract on Little Yellow Mountain in Avery County. The property was the result of a foreclosure proceeding after a projected development project failed and has been a long-time priority for both organizations.

“This tract bridges a gap between the mountain peak, which the Nature Conservancy bought last year, and Mollie’s Branch, which the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy protected earlier,” explains David Ray, NC Mountains Program Director for the Nature Conservancy. “Successful conservation is a matter of cooperation, not competition.” Together, the two conservancies have now protected 1,115 acres on Little Yellow Mountain that would otherwise have been developed. Read more

SAHC Purchases 60-acre Tract in Smoky Mountain Focus Area

Blackrock tractJust last week we closed on the purchase of a 60-acre tract in the Plott Balsam mountains, just north of Sylva in Jackson County. The Plott Balsam mountain range looms over Sylva and Waynesville in beautiful western North Carolina. These mountains are within SAHC’s Smoky Mountains focus area and the addition of this property contributes significantly to SAHC’s protection goals.

Located within the Yellow Face/Blackrock Mountain State Natural Heritage Area as well as the Plott Balsams Important Bird Area, the property has significant conservation values and adds to the connectivity of protected lands in the area. It adjoins the Nature Conservancy’s 1,595-acre Plott Balsam Preserve and is very near to the Sylva watershed park, which is protected by a conservation easement and connected to the watershed by trails maintained by Western Carolina University students. Read more