Welcome – Stewardship Associate Chris Kaase

Chris joins SAHC as our new Stewardship Associate. His primary responsibility will be stewardship of properties that have a working agricultural component.

“Protecting traditional livelihoods is a critical objective of regional land protection efforts,” says Chris. “I am really looking forward to serving as a liaison between SAHC and the owners of our agricultural easements.”

Chris moves to Asheville from Columbia, SC, where he worked as the stewardship coordinator for the Congaree Land Trust while finishing graduate school in the Department of Geography at the University of South Carolina.  

“I’m extremely excited to be back in the mountains,” he says. “I grew-up in southwestern Virginia and northwestern North Carolina and have a strong connection to this region. It’s where I’m from, where I want to be and, in turn, the community and natural environment to which I think I can contribute the most.” Read more

Stephens-Lee Bird Sanctuary Outing

In November, AmeriCorps member Whisper Moore led an afterschool group from Stephens-Lee Recreation Center to experience birding at the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary in North Asheville. In a previous afterschool session, Whisper had introduced students to migratory birds with the #GreatMigrationChallenge game. For this field trip, Bethany Sheffer and Simon Thompson of the Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society chapter joined us to share their expertise.

Bethany and Simon gave a brief lesson on birding and showed students how to use binoculars by spotting a particular point on a sign. Then they headed out together to spot some resident birds that stay at the Sanctuary year-round. As they ventured over to look at some Canada Geese across the waterway, one student exclaimed “Look at the mountains!” Read more

Rocky Fork, by David Ramsey

Do you know the story of Rocky Fork, TN?

SAHC is proud to have been a leader in protecting the 10,000-acre Rocky Fork watershed. This stunning scenic watershed is a unique, fragile ecosystem with rare and endangered species. Former SAHC Trustee and nature photographer David Ramsey elaborates in his new book Rocky Fork: Hidden Jewel of the Blue Ridge Wild.

David will donate 20% of each copy pre-ordered through his website using promo code SAHCRF by Nov. 30.

He says, “In this book, I’ve aimed to capture in words and images, along with fellow photographer Jerry Greer, the remarkable story of this 10,000-acre region. It is the story of how thousands of people who love these ancient mountains, including hunters, hikers, mountain bikers, fishers, horsemen and many elected leaders of the region found common ground and worked hard to save this treasured place for the common good.”

Be sure to use code “SAHCRF” for SAHC to get a donation from your book purchase. **This code also gets you 10% off the cover price** Please disregard any other promo codes on the website.


Special Note from the author:

“Greetings SAHC Supporter and Friend,

I’m David Ramsey, former SAHC Trustee and long-time fellow supporter. First and foremost, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to you for supporting SAHC. It is through your engagement and help that it has become one of the most effective and important mountain land protection organizations in America.
Since its organization in the early 1970s, SAHC has achieved some incredible conservation wins for the southern Appalachian Mountain region. One of the greatest of these victories was saving the 10,000-acre Rocky Fork Watershed from imminent destruction.
As a native resident of Unicoi County, TN, where Rocky Fork is located, I was very fortunate and proud to be part of that effort. In fact, when I first learned about the scope and seriousness of the threat to Rocky Fork in late 2005, I sounded an alarm to regional and national conservationists, the news media and the people of the region — and I’m proud to say the first call I made was to Carl Silverstein, SAHC Executive Director.
What happened next, in my view, is one of the great stories of the last half-century about the coming together of diverse people and groups to fight for the protection of a true Appalachian and American treasure. I hope you will choose to read my first-hand account of that story in my new book, Rocky Fork: Hidden Jewel of the Blue Ridge Wild.
The Holiday 2018 release of the book honors SAHC’s key role in saving Rocky Fork through the donation of 20% of sales made to visitors to my website who use the code: SAHCRF.
Please visit www.ramseyphotos.com to learn more about the book and/or to make a purchase. The deadline for taking advantage of this opportunity to further support SAHC’s vital work is November 30, 2018.
Thank you again for all you do!
Best regards, David Ramsey “

AmeriCorps Team 2018-19

Our Project Conserve AmeriCorps members serve 11-month terms, beginning in September. Their service helps expand and enrich all of our programs. We are grateful for their commitment and welcome our new 2018-19 team! Read more

Welcome, New Trustees!

Thank you to the following for committing to serve a new 3-year term on SAHC’s Board of Trustees. These individuals have graciously volunteered to devote their time and expertise to help carry out our mission. (Pictured, L to R: Tom Williams, Chris Soto, Rich Preyer, Nancy Edgerton)

Nancy Edgerton Asheville, NC
Nancy previously served on SAHC’s board, including a term as President, and has continued to volunteer on our Governance Committee. She and her husband Ron are dedicated participants in our hikes, outings and special events. Nancy is a talented photographer and cellist, and she serves on the Asheville Symphony board.

Rich Preyer Asheville, NC
Rich served two years as SAHC’s  AmeriCorps Member for Public Education and Outreach. He earned a Masters in Environmental Education from Antioch University in New Hampshire and is currently a Youth Education Associate with the NC Arboretum. Rich is enthusiastic about our Connecting People with Land program and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion initiative.

Chris Soto Johnson City, TN
Chris is senior editor and content manager with the Land Trust Alliance. She ensures that land conservation stories are shared among the different communications vehicles at the Alliance, in print and online. She manages the award- winning quarterly magazine, Saving Land. Before the Alliance, Chris managed publications at the Wildlife Habitat Council and American Farmland Trust. She and her husband are dedicated participants in SAHC events and outings and are active with the East Tennessee birding community.

Tom Williams Fairview, NC
Tom recently retired from Duke Energy as its Director of Corporate Media and Executive Support. He and his wife Laurie especially appreciate the conservation easements SAHC holds on land in Fairview. Tom is enthusiastic about helping SAHC with communications, development and engagement.

CAYLA Intern: Fisayo Bashorun

In our fourth year hosting an intern from the City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy (CAYLA), we welcomed Fisayo Bashorun to the SAHC team to work with our Communications and Community Farm staff. Fisayo is passionate about photography and aspires to serve at the state level of NC government.  “I heard of CAYLA through a teacher,” she shares. “The teacher had witnessed my eagerness to get involved in the community and felt this would be a great program for me to jump right in.” Read more

Meet our 2017 Summer Interns

CTNC Diversity in Conservation Internship Program

Conservation Trust for North Carolina’s Diversity in Conservation Internship Program introduces students from diverse backgrounds to careers in conservation by providing paid internships at land trusts and partner organizations. CTNC has funded 92 interns at 18 land trusts and 13 partner organizations since 2008.

Tamia Dame

Tamia is a rising junior at UNC Asheville, majoring in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Management and Policy. This summer she is serving as our Communication, Education, and Outreach Intern. Tamia has spent time with volunteer and hiking groups at our Community Farm and in the Highlands of Roan, writing articles and taking photos for our blog and newsletter. She also interviewed members of the community to research and write a personal narrative article about African-American relationships with land and agriculture. Through her internship, Tamia hopes to gain practical experience in the field of agriculture, build professional relationships, and acquire skills that will lead to a career in conservation. Her personal hobbies and interests include hiking, cooking, meeting new people, and dog sitting for friends. She is originally from Lenoir, NC, and moved to Asheville because of her love of the WNC mountains.

Kimani Anderson

Kimani was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. He is a rising junior and student athlete at the UNC Asheville, majoring in both political science and sociology. When not participating in track and field, Kimani can be found in many departments around UNCA. He is a peer mentor and member of the Order of Pisgah, the Political Science Club, and German club. This summer he has been working as the Communications Intern for Blue Ridge Forever, the coalition of land trusts in WNC. To assist in communications, Kimani used tabulated GIS data to create impactful statements and a story map outlining the collective conservation impact of Blue Ridge Forever partners (including SAHC).

Duke University Stanback Interns

The Duke University Stanback Internship Program is generously funded by Duke alumni Fred and Alice Stanback. The Stanback Internship Program provides Duke students with significant project-based learning experiences in energy, conservation, advocacy, policy, research, and applied resource management. The Stanback Internship Program is open to any Duke student – undergraduate, graduate, and international students.

John “Tal” Jacobs

Tal Jacobs is a graduate student at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. He is pursuing the Master of Environmental Management degree and is most interested in conservation planning and landscape analysis. Tal grew up in Concord, NC and likes to think of Western NC as a second home.  Working as our Land Conservation Priority and Planning Stanback Intern, Tal has been assisting our Land Protection staff in the development of GIS-based parcel prioritization processes and model reports. He is excited to participate in the protection of the places that sparked his passion for the natural world.

Sarah Sanford

Sarah is currently working on her Master’s degree in Environmental Management at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. Sarah hails from Virginia and did her undergraduate degree at the College of William and Mary. As a Stanback Intern, Sarah has been assisting in Roan Stewardship by collecting historic grassy balds management data for the Roan Highlands and creating an online story map to portray the years of work performed by SAHC, our partners, and local volunteers. Sarah enjoys hiking, camping, and spending time on the river, and is very pleased to be spending her summer in one of the most beautiful parts of the Appalachians.

City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy (CAYLA)

The City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy (CAYLA) recruits, trains and places local high school students at meaningful summer jobs with the City of Asheville and with participating agencies, in addition to providing weekly day-long workshops on financial literacy, leadership, career exploration and 21st Century job skills.

Fisasyo Bashorun

Fisayo is currently a final year student at Buncombe County Early College. Originally from Lagos, Nigeria, she moved to the United States with her family in 2005. She has been in WNC for twelve years and has yet to find a dull moment or a view that she didn’t enjoy. She is particularly interested in community involvement and planning for a career in local and state government, eventually working up to become a Congressional member. Fisayo is assisting with communications, especially photography and videography at our Community Farm.  In working with SAHC this summer, she hopes to gain a better understanding of how conservation works and explore the world of agriculture. Her personal hobbies include, long-boarding, biking, watching movies, and pet store hopping. 


Thomas Hatling

A forestry intern from Sewanee University, Thomas is mapping ash stands on SAHC preserves in order to prepare for planning and treatment to protect trees from invasive Emerald Ash Borer. Originally from Kernersville, NC, Thomas is a rising junior at Sewanee: The University of the South, majoring in forestry and minoring in philosophy. His hobbies and interests including whitewater paddling; playing guitar, mandolin, piano; and he is learning to play the carillon at Sewanee. His favorite thing to do is go on hikes and enjoy the nature and animals. This summer, Thomas has been creating an inventory of white ash tree populations in SAHC’s preserves in the Highlands of Roan.

Leigh Bost

Leigh comes to us from the Patagonia store in Atlanta, Georgia.  Patagonia offers employees the ability to protect the environment through the Environmental Internship Program. She was awarded up to 7 weeks away from her regular role as Store Manager to work for the environmental group of her choice — and she chose SAHC.  She is originally from Asheville, so the mountains are close to her heart.  When she isn’t working, she loves to spend time with her family gardening, biking, going on adventure walks, and being outside as much as possible. She is helping this summer with hikes, event planning, merchandise inventory/organization, land protection and stewardship documents, and LWCF legislative policy outreach.



Decorating for the Birds     

Thanks to the efforts of Sarah Sanford, a Duke University Stanback Intern with SAHC this summer, our new office has been outfitted with window decals to help protect our winged friends.

Sarah worked with her professors at Duke University on a project to prevent birds from fatally colliding with reflective windows. The Bird Collision Project at Duke uses patterned film to break up reflective surfaces seen by birds while retaining visibility for people inside buildings. Sarah suggested a similar idea for SAHC’s new office, taking the initiative to line our front windows with stickers of bird silhouettes. The use of the stickers will help the birds to avoid those windows. Read more

Appalachian Spring 2017

We had a wonderful time with all of our members, friends, and guests last night at Yee-Haw Brewing Company in Johnson City, TN. Congratulations to our new/returning Trustees — David Erwin, Rick Manske, John Mason, Laura McCue, and Cynthia Poortenga. Thank you to our outgoing Trustees — Courtney Blossman, Jack Hamilton, Bill Lowndes, and Kathy Singleton — for your years of dedicated service to land and water conservation on behalf of Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. Congratulations to Kirk Watson of Causeway Interactive, the recipient of our 2017 Stanley A. Murray Award for Volunteer Service, and a big thank you to all our sponsors and raffle item donors for helping make our event a resounding success. It was a wonderful night for our annual Appalachian Spring conservation celebration, benefit, and member event.

Read more

AmeriCorps Needs Our Help!

We need your help!

Please contact your Senator and Representative NOW, and ask them to oppose efforts to eliminate the AmeriCorps program (part of the Corporation for National and Community Service). This program is an important public/private partnership — in which non-profits like Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy match federal funds in order to accomplish meaningful land & water conservation and to create vibrant rural and urban communities. Read more