We purchased 60 acres adjoining the Asheville Watershed and SAHC’s 492-acre Laurel Ridge Preserve. The acquisition protects a headwater tributary of Laurel Branch, which flows into the Swannanoa River. This property is an important addition to the large network of over 125,000 acres of public and private protected land in the Black and Craggy Mountains.
“This tract is a portion of a larger property that was a boys’ summer camp for several years,” explains Land Protection Director Michelle Pugliese. “It bridges two previously unconnected units of SAHC’s 492-acre Laurel Ridge Preserve and joins the Asheville Watershed. By connecting both sides of our Laurel Ridge Preserve, it creates a critical conservation corridor.”
These properties are part of the large network of protected lands in the Black Mountains, which includes Mt. Mitchell State Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Pisgah National Forest, and the Big Tom Wilson Preserve (protected by SAHC conservation easement).
Elevations on the property reach 4,400 ft., and the entire tract lies within the Audubon Society’s Black and Craggy Mountains Important Bird Area.
We plan to own and manage the property for the long term as part of our Laurel Ridge Preserve to protect forest habitat and clean water sources.
Landowner Perspective: Jim Jackson
“When we first had the idea to build a community and youth camp in this area, we wanted to keep the upper elevations free from development and permanently protected,” says Jim Jackson, president of CBU Christian Fellowship, Inc., which sold the Laurel Ridge property to SAHC.
“This land is a bridge between the Bee Tree watershed and Asheville watershed, and it backs up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We realized the importance of protecting the water sources it contained — including the beginning of Laurel Branch, one of the water sources for the Swannanoa River.
When we learned about SAHC, we realized we could work in partnership to complete our desires of seeing the land protected. We appreciate the high integrity of the organization.”