Continued Hickory Nut Gap Protection – 62 acres

turtleon-hngbyway.jpgIn mid-December, SAHC protected another tract at Hickory Nut Gap. This new conservation easement preserves 62 acres adjacent to the Florence Nature Preserve and close to the Drovers Road Scenic Byway.  The property will remain privately owned, with permanent protection against future development.

“You may recall SAHC reporting on the three properties we protected at Hickory Nut Gap in December 2013, which totaled 173 acres spanning both sides of the Drovers Road Scenic Byway,” said Michelle Pugliese, SAHC’s Land Protection Director. “This year we were able to expand the protection in the Gap by ensuring that the headwaters and tributaries of Ashworth Creek, and the intact forested views from the Drovers Road Scenic Byway, will remain pristine forever.”

hickorynutscenicbyway.jpgFive tributaries of Ashworth Creek flow through the conservation easement property, three of which are headwater streams originating on its wooded slopes.  The southern portion of the property also lies within the Audubon Society Chimney Rock-Hickory Nut Gorge Important Bird Area and provides wildlife habitat.

This newly protected tract is adjacent to the Florence Nature Preserve, a popular public recreation area for hikers that is owned by Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy.  Placing a conservation easement on the adjoining 62-acre parcel will help preserve the public’s wilderness experience on the existing trail system at the Florence Nature Preserve.  There may be an opportunity to expand the public trail system onto this property, in accordance with the regional trail planning effort for the Hickory Nut Gap area, according to Pugliese. The regional trail planning is being done in partnership with Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy and other stakeholders in the region.

Hickory Nut Gap conservation map“This property has been a conservation priority in the landscape due to its location adjacent to the Florence Nature Preserve as well as its visibility from and proximity to the Drovers Road Scenic Byway,” said Pugliese.

The new conservation easement was completed using private donor funds and a grant from the NC Department of Transportation Scenic Byways Land Conservation Initiative.  Scenic byways are designated routes that have been carefully selected to embody the beauty and culture of the state while providing travelers with a safe and interesting alternate route. Funds from the Land Conservation Initiative of the NC Scenic Byways program help protect the characteristics that make these routes unique.