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Young Pisgah Mountain

Map of Young Pisgah MountainThe Young Pisgah Mountain property adjoins Pisgah National Forest just a mile north of the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Upper Hominy Creek Valley of southwest Buncombe County. This 102-acre conservation easement conserves habitat in an important wildlife corridor, in a network of other protected areas such as Chestnut Mountain and the tracts being secured for the new Pisgah View State Park.

“The tract at Young Pisgah Mountain is connected to a large block of protected land in the Balsam Mountains including Mount Pisgah and the Shining Rock Wilderness, which contain many biologically significant destinations,” says Land Protection Director Michelle Pugliese. “It has been a long-term project and we are grateful for the landowners’ commitment in protecting this special place. They first approached SAHC in 2010 about potentially conserving the land, and we are thrilled to have purchased the conservation easement this summer.” Read more

Wildflower Hike at Laurel Ridge

Date: Wednesday, May 1st
Time: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Where: Laurel Ridge
Difficulty: Moderate (5)— 3.2 mile hike with some steep terrain
Cost: FREE for members, $10 for non-members

Join the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy on a springtime wildflower stroll through our 552-acre Laurel Ridge conservation easement. Participants will be led through dense Southern Appalachian Oak Forests and Cove Forests over lovely streams, and rock formations along old, healed logging roads. As we meander through this wilderness we will keep our eyes peeled for the dizzying floral display of wildflowers on the forest floor. Participants will walk away with a deeper, more visceral understanding of the incredible biodiversity and beauty of the Southern Appalachians.

Hike difficulty ratings are based on this formula: (0.002 x elevation gain (ft.)) + round trip distance (mi.) = difficulty rating (1 – 10+)

2019 Laurel Ridge Wildflower Wednesday Hike Registration

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  • By providing your phone number, you ensure that we have a way to contact you in the rare event of any last-minute changes to the hike.
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Ridgeview Farm – 118 Acres Protected

View of Ridgeview FarmBrandon Hensley has no illusions about farm life in WNC — it’s hard work, with sparse financial rewards. However, a deep connection to his family’s land kept him working with SAHC over the lengthy 5-year process to permanently protect a beautiful, productive farm in an area pinched by increasing residential development.

In March 2019, we closed on the conservation easement protecting the 118-acre Ridgeview Farm in Buncombe County. Located just 2 miles from our Community Farm, this historic homestead farm contains a high percentage of agriculturally important soils. Brandon, a young farmer in his mid-30s, is carrying on his family’s legacy as the 5th generation to work this land. Read more

Montreat Wilderness Hike 2018

Date: Saturday, November 10th
Time: Starting at 9:00 am
Where: Montreat Wilderness
Difficulty: Extremely strenuous (13) — 8.5-mile hike with steep terrain
Cost: FREE for SAHC Members; $10 for non-members

Join Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy for an adventurous hike around the outer rim of the Montreat Wilderness. This hike is to celebrate SAHC’s recent acquisition of one of the Seven Sisters of the Montreat Wilderness, Brushy Knob. Brushy Knob, also known as “Big Piney,” is the third Sister in the chain of summits straddling the Asheville watershed and Montreat. This 123 acre preserve encompasses forested slopes, rock outrcoppings, and the summit of Brushy Knob itself (over 4160 ft. elevation). Our acquisition of this land protects important biological and ecological areas, including a portion of the Audubon Society’s Black and Great Craggy Mountain Important Bird Area.

This hike will begin up the famous Graybeard Trail traveling via switchbacks from the old Mt Mitchell narrow-gauge railroad bed from the 1920’s. On this path we will pass through beautiful forest, Pleistocene boulder fields, and Graybeard Falls. We will then proceed to Walker’s Knob, a rocky outcrop with sprawling views of Montreat and Black Mountain. The hike will then continue on the Graybeard Trail to its summit at 5,408′ above sea level where we will have lunch.

We will then begin our descent down the West Ridge Trail along the Seven Sisters. To the west of this rugged, scenic trail is the protected Asheville Watershed and SAHC’s newest acquisition, Brushy Knob. We will then turn onto the Big Piney Trail, enjoying one more spectacular rocky outcrop before descending to the Little Piney Trail and exiting the trail system. Be sure to bring durable hiking boots, snacks, water, and lunch for this long, beautiful, strenuous, unforgettable hike.

Hike difficulty ratings are based on this formula: (0.002 x elevation gain (ft.)) + round trip distance (mi.) = difficulty rating (1 – 10+)

Registration for this hike is full – if you would like to be placed on the waiting list email israel@appalachian.org

526-acre Swannanoa Conservation Easement

In 2018, SAHC accepted a donated conservation easement on 526 acres in Swannanoa owned by Chemtronics, Inc. The conservation easement permanently protects land adjoining Pisgah National Forest, as well as scenic views from the Blue Ridge Parkway, I-40 and NC Highway 70.

“This landscape is important to the surrounding Swannanoa community, and we are pleased to be able to permanently protect these ridges,” says Executive Director Carl Silverstein. “The conservation easement area provides important wildlife corridors and will create an undeveloped buffer adjoining other protected lands.”

The forested, steep slopes of the property rise to elevations over 3,580 ft. The tract adjoins a large block of contiguous, protected land in the Black Mountains that includes the Asheville Watershed, Pisgah National Forest, Mount Mitchell State Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is located less than a mile away. The Audubon Society’s Black and Great Craggy Mountains Important Bird Area covers a portion of the property. This Important Bird Area provides habitat for a wide variety of species, including: Black-throated Blue warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Canada Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, Pine Siskin, and Dark-eyed Junco. Read more

Marshall Watershed – 541 Acres Protected

In northwest Madison County, 541 secluded acres of forest filter miles of clean mountain streams that once provided drinking water to town residents. We worked with the Town of Marshall to permanently protect the Marshall Watershed property with a conservation easement — our sixth project to conserve municipal watershed lands. The Clean Water Management Trust Fund awarded SAHC a grant to protect this tract and its outstanding water resources.

“The Town of Marshall has been committed for years to preserving the Marshall Watershed from development,” said town attorney Jamie Stokes, on behalf of the Town of Marshall. “We are proud to have finalized this project, with the assistance and dedication of SAHC, so that this beautiful landscape and the natural resources thereon will be preserved for many generations to come.” Read more

Focus Area Feature Hike: Balsam Mountains

Date: Saturday, March 24

Time: 10:00-3:00pm

Location: Webb Property, Near Pathertown Valley

Difficulty: Moderate (5-6)

Cost: Free for SAHC members, $10 for non-members

Join us on a scenic hike through the 600 acre Conservation Easement protected by SAHC in 2007 near Panthertown Valley in Jackson County.  The hike will be around three miles on well-established trails meandering through rhododendron tunnels and laurel archways.  Throughout the acidic cove forest there is the chance to see early spring blooms such as trailing arbutus!  We will eat our lunch on top of Laura’s Rock, a granite rock outcrop nearly 4000’ in elevation; from here we will have wonderful views into the valley.  The loop hike will finish back at Webb Lake, which is a habitat for native brook trout and beavers!  On the outing we will be accompanied by John Webb, who will be able to tell us some of the stories of the land! 

Presented as part of our Focus Area Feature Hike Series. Have you ever wanted to learn more about SAHC’s land protection work, particularly our conservation focus area priorities? This year we are offering a series of six Focus Area Feature Hikes, each highlighting one of the six distinctive geographic regions where we work. Over the past 44 years, our members and donors have protected over 77,000 

2018 Focus Area Feature Hike: Balsam Mountains

  • First NameLast NameEmail 
  • By providing your phone number, you ensure that we have a way to contact you in the rare event of any last-minute changes to the hike.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Boyd Cove Conservation Easement

We protected 88 acres in Boyd Cove, adding to thousands of protected acres in the Newfound Mountains of Sandy Mush. Landowners Pattie and Ed Ellis, Kate Tierney, and Kara Powis worked with us to protect the forested cove with a conservation easement, ensuring that plant and animal habitat and water sources on the property will remain undisturbed for future generations.

“Pattie and Ed Ellis have documented over 100 species of plants and animals during their 30+ years on this property,” says Land Protection Director Michelle Pugliese. “They also located 15 springs across the cove. This conservation easement will help protect habitat and clean water in the French Broad River watershed.” Read more

Post-Storm Clean-up on your Conservation Easement

Recent storms have brought high winds, heavy rains, and a lot of fallen trees. Wondering what to do about all the storm debris on your conservation easement property? Many easements allow for the removal of hazardous, damaged or downed trees, but this varies on a case-by-case basis. Please be sure to consult your easement documents first, and contact stewardship staff at our office if you have any questions.

You’ll want to consider whether or not the trees/debris in question actually pose a hazard to you or your property. While not always the most visually appealing, non-hazardous dead or fallen trees can actually benefit the conservation values of your property because they recycle nutrients back to the soil and can become habitat for birds, mammals, and other critters. If a tree is damaged but not dangerous, leaving it alone may be the best course of action. You may also find that some damaged trees spring back to life, even 6 to 12 months after a storm.

For more information on identifying and removing hazardous trees, check out this article by the US Forest Service. If you are unsure about removing a tree, consult with a professional arborist or an insured tree removal service. Here’s a list of questions to consider before hiring a service.

Weaverville Watershed – 310 Acres Protected!

We recently worked with the Town of Weaverville to place a conservation easement on 310 acres of the Weaverville Watershed. The easement protects important headwaters of Reems Creek as well as forested habitat and scenic views from Reems Creek Valley.

“This property provided drinking water to the Town of Weaverville for 80 years and is important for conservation because of its water resources,” said Land Protection Director Michelle Pugliese. “It contains the headwaters of Eller Cove Branch and 12 of its tributaries, which run into Reems Creek and eventually the French Broad River. One of the best ways to preserve water quality downstream is by protecting a river’s headwaters – and that is exactly what has happened here. We are grateful to the Town of Weaverville for taking the step to protect this tract and its natural resources for posterity.” Read more

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