The Roan Highlands are commonly referred to as the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy’s flagship conservation focus area. Along with their stunning views and unique habitats, the Roan Highlands are home to a rich mountain culture spanning generations with a deep connection to the land. The relationship between these communities and the mountain has been the foundation of stewardship in the Roan for hundreds of years. Historic uses like hunting and fishing have played a significant role in that relationship. Hunting for subsistence has always been a way of life and has fostered relationships with nature based on intrinsic values and respect.
SAHC honors the relationship between Roan communities and the land by allowing a limited number of hunting licenses to be issued for our protected properties. These licenses are typically issued to prior landowners, neighbors, or relatives to hunt deer and turkey.
In November 2017, the Roan Stewardship team organized SAHC’s first hunter outreach event in Newland, NC to provide information about SAHC’s conservation efforts and build relationships with the people that hold hunting licenses on SAHC properties in the Roan. Approximately 20 hunters and family members gathered in the local fire hall that evening for the event. They shared homemade venison chili prepared by SAHC staff and learned more about how they, too, help SAHC protect the land for future generations.
The hunting license holders have been involved with Roan conservation efforts in more ways than one. Many of them have worked with SAHC to protect their land forever, and all of them take on a stewardship role. Hunting licensees act as caretakers by reporting signs of erosion, invasive species, trespassing, and other topics of concern. Just in the past few seasons, insight from hunters has proven to be beneficial in efforts to control invasive species (especially feral hogs) and in reducing plant poaching in the Roan.
The hunter outreach chili dinner highlights a more unique conservation partnership. Through building and maintaining relationships with hunters and outdoorsmen, SAHC will continue to conserve not only the land, but local heritage.