Two new acquisitions in Roaring Creek join our network of protected land in the Highlands of Roan. These two tracts adjoin other SAHC preserves on the slopes of Big Yellow Mountain, together protecting hundreds of acres of northern hardwood and high elevation red oak forests, rising up to the boundary of the Big Yellow Mountain Preserve, co-managed by SAHC with our partners at The Nature Conservancy.
Most of these properties are within the Big Yellow Mountain Natural Area and are part of the Audubon Society’s Roan Mountain Important Bird Area. They contain thousands of linear feet of tributary streams and headwater seeps, feeding into Roaring Creek. The North Toe River and Roaring Creek have been identified as critical to protecting water quality in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, and the watershed supports a host of rare species, including the Federally Endangered Appalachian Elktoe mussel.
In addition to their importance for protecting water quality and intact forests, these recently protected properties in the Roaring Creek Valley area also contain approximately 14 acres of old Christmas tree farm fields, which we will restore as meadow habitat for Golden-winged Warbler, Appalachian Cottontail, and other rare early successional species and pollinators.
“Old field and early successional habitats in the mountains are disappearing fast,” says Roan Stewardship Director Marquette Crockett. “When we acquire a property that allows us to manage for these habitats, without cutting surrounding forests, it is a win-win for conservation.”
“The property also contains a high elevation fish-free pond, which is an exceptionally rare find in the mountains,” adds Crockett. “We can’t wait to find out which frogs, salamanders, and dragonflies are breeding in this hidden gem!”
We are very grateful to philanthropic leaders Fred and Alice Stanback, Brad and Shelli Stanback, and SAHC members for making these acquisitions possible.