We purchased 149 acres at North Turkey Creek in Buncombe County, adding to a contiguous block of protected lands in the Sandy Mush community. The acquisition protects wildlife corridors and headwater streams that flow into North Turkey Creek in the French Broad River watershed.
“This tract adjoins the extensive network of lands protected by SAHC in Sandy Mush,” says Michelle Pugliese, SAHC’s land protection director. “It is surrounded on two sides by land SAHC protected between 1995 and 2011.”
Altogether, SAHC has protected more than 10,000 acres in this region, including active family farms, the Long Branch Environmental Education Center, and public lands of the Sandy Mush Game Lands.
Protecting contiguous tracts of undeveloped land helps provide corridors for wildlife movement. Unlike other areas in which the nonprofit land trust works, the Sandy Mush area does not contain a significant swath of national forest or park land to anchor conservation efforts. Over the course of decades, SAHC has worked diligently to establish and secure a network of protected lands in this region, providing green corridors that offer habitat and allow for wildlife movement.
The 149-acre North Turkey Creek tract in the Newfound Mountains contains high elevation areas, with a top elevation of 4,300 feet. SAHC prioritizes high elevation lands (those at or above 4,000 ft) for conservation due to the higher incidences of rare species and ecological communities found at these elevations. Streams originating on the upper slopes of the property flow into North Turkey Creek, a main stem of Turkey Creek.
“We are grateful to Brad and Shelli Stanback for making a generous gift that made this acquisition possible,” said Carl Silverstein, SAHC’s executive director. “We plan to own the property for the long term as a nature preserve to protect water quality, forest health, biodiversity, wildlife habitat and scenic beauty.”