Accreditation Renewal 2021

Land Trust Accreditation Commission seal and sloganOne thing that unites us as a nation is land: Americans strongly support saving the open spaces they love. Since 1974, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy has been doing just that for the people of Tennessee and North Carolina. Now SAHC has renewed our land trust accreditation – proving once again that, as part of a network of over 400 accredited land trusts across the nation, we are committed to professional excellence and to maintaining the public’s trust in its conservation work.

“SAHC became an accredited land trust in 2010, and we have now successfully renewed that accredited status twice,” says Executive Director Carl Silverstein. “This rigorous process serves to reassure our donors and stakeholders that SAHC continues to practice the highest standards in conservation, demonstrating strength, professionalism, and longevity for our organization.”

SAHC provided extensive documentation and was subject to a comprehensive third-party evaluation prior to achieving this distinction. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded renewed accreditation, signifying its confidence that SAHC’s lands will be protected forever. Accredited land trusts now steward almost 20 million acres – the size of Denali, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined.

“It is exciting to recognize Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy’s continued commitment to national standards by renewing this national mark of distinction,” said Melissa Kalvestrand, executive director of the Commission. “Donors and partners can trust the more than 400 accredited land trusts across the country are united behind strong standards and have demonstrated sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance, and lasting stewardship.”

SAHC is one of 1,363 land trusts across the United States according to the Land Trust Alliance’s most recent National Land Trust Census. A complete list of accredited land trusts and more information about the process and benefits can be found at www.landtrustaccreditation.org.

About the Land Trust Accreditation Commission

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission inspires excellence, promotes public trust and ensures permanence in the conservation of open lands by recognizing organizations that meet rigorous quality standards and strive for continuous improvement. The Commission, established in 2006 as an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts. For more, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org.

Welcome New Trustees

SAHC Trustees provide guidance and leadership for the organization. We are grateful to the following individuals who join the SAHC Board this year and are willing to donate their time and experience to serve with the organization.

PenderLarry Pender, Horse Shoe, NC

Pender (as he prefers) retired from NYU, where he served as an administrator. He and his wife, Tanya Marie founded Pathways to Parks a couple of years ago to encourage and support inclusivity and access for all people, especially people of color; to enjoy hiking and outdoor recreation. He enjoys many outdoor activities including cycling, hiking and tennis. Pender has been a dedicated member and looks forward to supporting SAHC’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion initiative.

PamPam Kelley, Kingsport, TN

Pam retired from Eastman, where she served as Director of Global Credit. Her background is in the Accounting and Credit Management division. She enjoys the outdoors, hiking and biking.  After learning of SAHC’s work, she looks forward to being involved and supporting its mission.

Randy HunterMiranda “Randy” Hunter, Asheville , NC

Randy is a long-time, active member of the French Broad River Garden Club and enjoys studying horticulture and applying the science to her garden.  She recently led the nomination of SAHC for the Garden Club of America’s national Cynthia Pratt Laughlin Medal, and the year-long process of securing the award on SAHC’s behalf.

JoeJoe DeLoach, Jonesborough, TN

Joe is a longtime passionate SAHC leader. He previously served on SAHC’s board in the 1990s and early 2000s, and has served as Board Chair. He serves as a Technology Fellow with Eastman.

Youth Education with Black Folks Camp Too

Earl speaks to YMCA HorizonsEarl B. Hunter, Jr., founder of Black Folks Camp Too, speaks of bringing people together in unity to enjoy the great outdoors. Former Vice-President of Sales at SylvanSport and a recognized speaker in the outdoor recreation industry, Earl began his company as a way to bring all people together to experience and benefit from outdoor recreation. He says they are creating an educational portal, and the campfire in their logo is a way to bring people together for discussion. We were excited to partner with Earl and Black Folks Camp Too during the summer to host outdoor recreation events for two local youth programs – Youth Transformed for Life and the YMCA Horizons program.

Read more

SAHC Response to COVID-19

As a land trust, we always think about the big picture.

With the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation in our nation and local areas, this means that Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy will be operating from individual home and outdoor work sites in order to protect the health of staff, volunteers, supporters, partners, and our communities at-large. Our office on Merrimon Avenue is currently closed to the public. We have suspended all outings, events, and group education activities through the end of March, and will provide updates to our schedule in the future.

However, this doesn’t mean that we have stopped protecting the places you love.

SAHC has always been a forward-thinking and innovative organization. While the current situation presents many challenges and uncertainties, please know that we are diligently continuing to protect and steward land and water resources, while exploring remote technology options to help connect people with nature.

  • We are continuing to move forward with new land protection projects already in the works.
  • Our stewardship staff will continue to monitor protected properties. The Stew Crew is following social distancing recommendations while doing what they do best – spending time outdoors.
  • We are exploring ways to bring you environmental education instruction and virtual hike tours, using SAHC’s various communication channels.

We all know that spending time in outdoor spaces helps improve health outcomes. In the coming days and weeks, we will share tips and info about places to explore on your own.

State of Emergency declarations by government officials and mandatory K-12 school closings indicate that this is an unprecedented situation. As an organization, we have a commitment to uphold the highest standards of professionalism in our conservation work, and we extend that consideration to our operation within communities that we serve. We are following professional health recommendations in order to mitigate impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Concern for the health and well-being of our planet and people within our communities has always been a founding principle for our conservation mission. This concern includes you.

We will continue to do this work and overcome the current challenges as we have always done — together.

Thank you for being part of the SAHC family.

Carl Silverstein
Executive Director

2019-20 AmeriCorps Project Conserve Team

Each year, members of the AmeriCorps Project Conserve program contribute critical capacity to conservation programs across Western North Carolina. These five dedicated young environmentalists have committed to a year of service with SAHC, helping further conservation work through a variety of programs — from hands-on stewardship of land to leading hikes and educating youth groups. Welcome to the team! (AmeriCorps members listed below as they appear in photo, L to R)

Sam Rames: Stewardship & Volunteer Member

Haling from Charleston, SC, Sam graduated from UNC Asheville in 2016 with an Environmental Studies Degree.  During college, she was honored as a University Research Scholar and McCullough Fellow.  Her research and field work include stream, fish, woody plants, and wildlife ecology as well as invasive species management.

Hannah Stuart: Land Protection & Education Member

An Asheville native, Hannah graduated from UNC Asheville with a degree in Environmental Studies. She was a student athlete on the swim team, which she also managed.  Her research and work experience include water quality monitoring, due diligence analysis and easement renewals.

Shaylyn Sargent: Conservation Education & Volunteer Outreach Member

Shay, or “Sarge” graduated from Mars Hill University with a major in History and a Minor in Environmental Studies.  During his time at Mars Hill, he was honored as a Bonner Scholar.  His volunteer experiences range from addressing food security in rural Appalachia to hosting historical talks, to trail building, and habitat restoration following hurricanes.

Hanna Peterman: Stewardship & Volunteer Member

Hanna joins us from Chapel Hill, after graduating from Washington University with a double major in Environmental Biology and Spanish. Her research includes wildlife monitoring, invasive plants management, and tick and mosquito sampling.  She also spent a semester abroad in Chile, is fluent in Spanish.

Hannah Latragna: Communications & Community Engagement Member

Hannah joins the team after graduating from Canisius College (Buffalo, NY) with majors in Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation & Digital Media Arts, and a minor in anthropology.  During college, she was captain of the women’s cross country and track team, and her volunteer and work experiences include coaching, community outreach, and educational videography.

AmeriCorps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages more than5 million Americans in service through nonprofit and community organizations across the country.

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.

https://www.ramseyphotos.com/image-use-/-licensing

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