We are working with Pisgah and Cherokee National Forests, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), and Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club (TEHCC) to address recreational impacts in and around Carver’s Gap and Grassy Ridge. This area, with easy access to stunning scenic views along the Appalachian Trail, has experienced significant increases in visitation. We joined these partners for two work days this summer, to repair and restore a section of the trail going up Jane Bald. In addition, new signage and interpretative materials are planned for 2020.
Over the course of the summer, Roan Naturalist Sarah Jones interacted with more than 8,500 people on the Appalachian Trail. Sarah taught visitors about the ecology of the Roan Highlands and the role that SAHC and other partners play in protecting the landscape. She shared Leave No Trace ethics and provided support for hikers of all levels. We are very appreciative to our friends at the ATC and the TEHCC for their support of this position.
Students from Mars Hill University and Warren Wilson College joined us this spring for a Golden-winged Warbler habitat management workday and camping trip along the Appalachian Trail in the Highlands of Roan.
The energetic volunteers cleared downed tree limbs and lopped saplings to create ideal breeding ground for this threatened species of neo-tropical migratory songbirds. Read more
Our Elk Hollow Preserve Volunteer Work Day in April was a success, thanks to an incredible group of folks who joined us in building trails, friendships, and partnerships! Read more
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.
In the Highlands of Roan, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy convenes a multi-partner effort to manage the world’s largest stretch of Appalachian grassy balds. These unique ecosystems contain a variety of rare plants.
SAHC volunteers and our partners with the NC BRIDGE program contributed more than 1,900 hours to manage habitat on Roan’s grassy balds this summer. Altogether, Roan stewardship partners managed a record 32 acres. Volunteers and BRIDGE partners hand-mowed more than 17 acres from Round Bald to Grassy Ridge, cutting back blackberry and shrubs across the balds. The US Forest Service mechanically mowed 15 acres on Hump Mountain.
The BRIDGE crew are hardworking stewardship partners. A program of the NC Division of Prisons the NC Division of Forest Resources to train young, non-violent offenders with firefighting and forestry skills, BRIDGE stands for “BUILDING, REHABILITATING, INSTRUCTING, DEVELOPING, GROWING, EMPLOYING.
Our Roan stewardship work is supported by grants from the National Forest Foundation, McLendon Family Foundation and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
Thank you to all the volunteers, partners, and supporters who make this work possible!
On April 28, 2018, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and Nature Valley partnered with us for a volunteer work day at our Big Rock Creek Preserve, surrounded by national forest land and public recreation hotspots in the Highlands of Roan. In addition to the area’s rare habitats and unique species, SAHC’s Big Rock Creek Preserve – once the home of TrailRidge Mountain Camp — provides a great space for people to connect with protected conservation lands. A total of 35 volunteers showed up for the work day and tackled a variety of tasks around the preserve to help better connect people with nature. The crew of volunteers represented programs from across the region, including Western Carolina University, East Tennessee State University, AmeriCorps Project Conserve, Conservation Trust for North Carolina, and Asheville Women Outdoors.
The volunteers broke into smaller groups to work on tasks, which included building a quarter mile loop trail, deconstructing an old camping platform, transplanting rhododendron, and seeding an open area with native grasses.
Jeff Hunter of NPCA led one of the trail crews to clear and grade the first segment of the trail. Jeff has extensive experience in building trails and volunteers learned a lot by working with him.
“Building the trail was an eye opening experience, I have hiked on trails for years and years, but had no idea the amount of work and love that goes into making and maintaining them. Now, when I am looking at a trail I can identify the mineral soil, what is a good slope, and where water may end up pooling; all things I never would have noticed prior to the Big Rock Creek Workday. It was definitely a Saturday well spent!” -Emily Adler
The trail crew also built two sets of steps and cleared fallen trees. By the end of the day, all major obstacles had been cleared from the trail, creating a strolling path for SAHC’s educational programs and guests to use to explore the property.
On another portion of the preserve, volunteers worked in the open area surrounding our new camping platform. Volunteers cleared the area around the platform, then spread seeds and transplanted rhododendron along the border. We hope to see this area sprouting native grasses and wildflowers in the next few weeks.
In only 5 hours, all of the tasks were completed and everyone took a walk on the newly built trail together. We shared stories about what led us to volunteer and reflected on the importance of environmental stewardship. Thank you to everyone who participated or supported this work day. We couldn’t do it without you!
The mission of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy is to conserve the unique plant and animal habitat, clean water, farmland, scenic beauty, and places for all people to enjoy outdoor recreation in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, enduring for future generations. We achieve this through long-term conservation relationships with private landowners and public agencies and owning and managing land. We are committed to creating and supporting equitable, healthy and thriving communities for everyone in our region.
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372 Merrimon Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801