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135 Acres Adjoining Pisgah Nat’l Forest

Gutches Creek mapIn September 2019, SAHC secured 135 acres of important high elevation habitat in the Highlands of Roan. This tract adjoins Pisgah National Forest and existing SAHC preserves, creating a contiguous swath of permanently protected, botanically rich forests on the slopes of Fork Mountain. We are incredibly grateful to all of our supporters for helping to conserve this remarkable place!

When SAHC’s founders first laid plans 50 years ago to preserve the landscape of the Roan, they didn’t have the technology we use today in Google Earth or Geographic Information System mapping. However, they certainly possessed keen intuition and first-hand familiarity with the land. Now, another of the priority parcels they identified has been permanently secured for future generations.

homestead cabin on Gutches Creek tractThe newly acquired Gutches Creek property joins our Fork Mountain and Yellow Spot preserves to create an SAHC-owned area of more than 563 acres on the southeastern slopes of Fork Mountain, adjoining thousands of acres of National Forest in the Roan. It is just two miles west of the beloved Roan Rhododendron Gardens.

“With elevations rising above 4,700 feet and numerous springs, seeps, and streams, the Gutches Creek property is a biological gem,” says Roan Stewardship Director Marquette Crockett.

boulder and stream photoAt least 10 state-listed rare plants and 6 state-listed ecological community types exist on the property, according to initial surveys. The  land’s high elevation red oak forest, northern hardwood forest, and rich cove boulderfields are all high quality examples of rare natural communities. The preserve creates a haven for forest interior birds.

“Gutches Creek rushes boldly down the mountain through massive boulders, evoking a sense of wonder,” continues Marquette. “This property forms a stunning, natural amphitheater surrounding Gutches Creek, made out of some of the largest boulder fields that I have seen on any of SAHC’s conservation properties. With a historic homestead and sections of rock wall that have been here for more than 100 years, this place really does give the impression that you have stepped into another time.”

SAHC plans to own and manage the property for the long term as wildlife habitat.

Strawberry Gap, Stony Point Conservation

We purchased 170 acres in two adjoining tracts at Strawberry Gap and Stony Point near the Eastern Continental Divide  to protect water resources, plant and animal habitat, and scenic views from public trails and scenic byways. We plan to own these properties for the long term and manage the forests to promote resilience, diversity and longevity. 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

Stevens Creek land protected near Great Smoky Mountains National Park

We recently purchased 147 acres at Stevens Creek, a quiet cove on the eastern edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The acquisition permanently protects important habitat and water resources near the remote Cataloochee Valley area of the park.

“Wrapped on three sides by publicly owned land, this pocket of prime forest and open pasture habitat will remain undeveloped for future generations,” says Executive Director Carl Silverstein. “The acquisition presents a wonderful opportunity for SAHC to deepen our connection to America’s most visited national park.”

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North Turkey Creek – 149 Acres Protected

trees on North Turkey Creek propertyWe 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.”

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Little Hawk Mountain

We purchased 220 acres on Little Hawk Mountain in the Highlands of Roan, protecting mature forest, trout waters, and important bird habitat. This acquisition adds to thousands of acres conserved by SAHC in the Yellow Mountain State Natural Area since 2008. 

“This acquisition extends the protected corridor along the ridgeline of the Yellow Mountain State Natural Area and offers potential for future public access and recreation,” said Executive Director Carl Silverstein. “We are looking at the long view, protecting the land now for people to enjoy in the future.” Read more

7 acres protected near Carvers Gap

7-acre inholding surrounded by an SAHC preserve and Pisgah National Forest just below Carvers Gap in the Highlands of RoanAt the end of December we purchased a 7-acre inholding surrounded by protected land just below Carvers Gap in the Highlands of Roan. The tract adjoins an SAHC preserve and Pisgah National Forest. Although small in acreage, it was a high conservation priority because of its location and visibility from the Appalachian Trail at Round Bald and Jane Bald.

“People often ask if SAHC has a minimum acreage requirement for land protection projects,” said Land Protection Director Michelle Pugliese. “This is an excellent example of a small property with large conservation benefits.” Read more

Big Rock Creek Donation

bigrockcreekInspired by our conservation work in the Highlands of Roan, landowner Ken Davis donated 47 acres to SAHC. The property adjoins Pisgah National Forest and our Big Rock Creek preserve, which we purchased in 2014, thus filling an important gap in the protected landscape.

Visible from the Appalachian Trail, the tract contains important forest habitat and headwater resources. Forest types include Appalachian hemlock hardwood forest, Appalachian oak forest, and southern Appalachian montane pine forest. The property contains a portion of Dave Branch stream and a headwater stream for Big Rock Creek, which flows into the North Toe River. These waterways are designated Wild Trout Streams by the NC Division of Water Quality. Read more

Big Yellow Mountain

roaring-creek-valley-center-and-big-yellow-mtn-and-little-hump-rightWe purchased 70 acres on Big Yellow Mountain in the Highlands of Roan, located just 2,500 ft from the Appalachian Trail. Adjoining Pisgah National Forest, Conservation lands held by the State of NC, and other SAHC-protected properties, the forested high-elevation tract is visible from the Overmountain Shelter on the AT.

“This acquisition was a high conservation priority because of the property’s location on the biologically sensitive and stunning scenic slopes of Big Yellow Mountain near the Appalachian Trail,” said Land Protection Director Michelle Pugliese.  “It was the highest elevation, privately-owned unprotected tract between Grassy Ridge and Bradley Gap.” Read more

SAHC helps Rocky Fork State Park acquire tract for public access

RockyFork_triplefallsToday we celebrate Earth Day with the closing of an exciting new project which will enable more people to learn about and enjoy the incredible Rocky Fork region!

We worked with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to purchase a 1-acre tract to facilitate public access for Rocky Fork State Park.

“This 1-acre tract is a critical acquisition because it contains the only public access into Rocky Fork State Park,” said SAHC Executive Director Carl Silverstein. “We are proud to have been able to work with the State of Tennessee and other partners over the past decade to conserve the 10,000-acre Rocky Fork watershed. This recent acquisition is an integral part of these efforts, as it will afford public access for visitors to enjoy trails and trout streams in this stunning area.” Read more

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