Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy purchased 166 acres in northwestern Haywood County, including forested slopes of Crabtree Bald. The property is located in a region where we and partners have been conserving forested ridges and productive valley farms for more than two decades, preserving a network of undeveloped land in Sandy Mush, Crabtree, and the Newfound Mountains in order to protect wildlife habitat, water sources, and farmland.
“This property was listed on the real estate market and could have been purchased for development,” says Conservation Director Hanni Muerdter. “SAHC’s acquisition of the land adds a large block of protected acreage to the growing network of protected land in this area and helps secure a corridor for wildlife to travel along the mountains. The mix of forested habitat support a variety of species.”
According to Josh Kelly, SAHC Land Protection Committee member and Public Lands Field Biologist with MountainTrue, “Crabtree Bald is a large massif and one of the highest-elevation, privately-owned mountains in the Blue Ridge. It has been a conservation priority for decades. The North Carolina Natural Heritage Program documented rare communities such as High Elevation Rocky Summit and Montane-Cedar Hardwood Woodland on Crabtree Bald in the 1990s. Crabtree Bald is blessed with an abundance of quality natural communities and a large expanse of scenic, high-elevation pasture.”
The tract encompasses a rocky cove with the headwaters of Buckeye Branch, a small stream that flows into Bald Creek in the Pigeon River watershed. The property rises to 4,920 feet elevation, with rock outcroppings and boulder slopes in much of the upper reaches. It can be seen from public trails in the Rough Creek Watershed, a conserved property owned by the Town of Canton and open to the public for hiking and mountain biking.
We plan to own and manage the property for forest habitat in the long term.