SAHC to Accept Donation of 7,500 Acres in Roan Highlands

Press Release – April 22, 2021



Conservation of the globally-significant mountain adds to extensive land trust and public agency efforts in the region

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) announced today that they have signed a letter of intent to accept the donation of approximately 7,500 acres of land in the Roan Highlands landscape from a conservation philanthropist. The tract lies within the southern end of the planning boundary of the Yellow Mountain State Natural Area, a special conservation area designated by the NC General Assembly in 2008 to protect the exceptional nat­ural features found there. Read more

2020 Conservation Review

Map of SAHC conservation projects in 2020Looking back as we head into the final stretch of 2020, we all know that this year has been far from ordinary. On a positive note, it has been a record-breaking year for local conservation efforts! Since the beginning of January, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy has closed on the protection of more than 2,600 acres across the mountains of Western North Carolina and East Tennessee, with additional projects scheduled to wrap up by year-end. Several of these have been in the works for many years.

“It is a testament to the commitment of SAHC members, staff, and conservation-minded supporters that we have been able to complete these projects during extraordinary circumstances, and we are grateful to all the people who make this remarkable work possible,” says SAHC Executive Director Carl Silverstein. “There is something tangible and reassuring in preserving land – it’s something you can put your hand on. These conservation projects help preserve cultural connections to the past, places to connect with nature, and vital resources we rely on now, and which will be increasingly critical in the future.” Read more

Beaverdam – 54 Acres

Google Earth image of 54-acre parcel on mountain slopeIn November, we purchased 54 acres in the Beaverdam community of Haywood County, protecting land adjoining the Town of Canton’s Rough Creek Watershed and other SAHC-protected properties in the Beaverdam and Newfound Mountains area.

“Permanent protection of this tract will help preserve scenic views from public trails in the adjoining Rough Creek watershed, as well as stream sources and habitat in an important wildlife corridor,” says Conservation Director Hanni Muerdter. “These 54 acres add to a network of thousands of acres of protected land in Haywood County and western Buncombe County.”

Read more

Wiles Creek

Wiles Creek close-upImagine a verdant forest with lush ferns growing underneath full, mature canopies. The slushing rush of stream waters echoes all around, lulling you into a state of calm relaxation. Nearby, wildflowers in meadow openings flush with sunlight set the stage for busy activity from pollinators (and their predators), hinting at the array of wildlife which call these places home. Damp earth and plentiful rocks harbor a healthy population of salamanders. Fortunately this stunning oasis in the Highlands of Roan – SAHC’s new Wiles Creek Preserve – is now permanently protected. We are grateful to the committed conservation-minded folks – including SAHC members, a former landowner, Brad and Shelli Stanback, and the Carolina Bird Club – who made protection of this beautiful sanctuary possible.

Wiles Creek mapSAHC recently purchased 166 acres in Mitchell County, NC adjoining Pisgah National Forest, within the Audubon Society’s Roan Mountain Important Bird Area. The undeveloped tract is highly visible from the public overlook at Roan High Knob. Part of a landscape of protected lands with other SAHC-conserved properties, the Wiles Creek Preserve will be owned by SAHC in the long term as a nature preserve and will be managed for priority bird habitats, water quality, and other natural features. Read more

Tanasee Ridge

Hiking at Tanasee Ridge

Working with trusted conservation partners, we recently protected 109 acres at Tanasee Ridge, adjoining Nantahala National Forest. The property could potentially provide an alternate gateway to popular outdoor recreation areas in Panthertown Valley. Thank you for helping to make this project possible!

“This tract has long been a priority for conservation,” says Conservation Director Hanni Muerdter.  “Permanent protection of the Tanasee Ridge property will enhance the public experience of using the forest.” Read more

SAHC Virtual Lunch and Learn: Aerial Monitoring

When: Monday, August 3 starting from 12 – 1 pm

Online, FREE

To supplement our on-the-ground stewardship efforts, SAHC is currently developing an aerial monitoring program. SAHC stewards land spread across approximately 4,000 square miles — and as of 2020, our Stew Crew is responsible for monitoring over 52,000 acres. Annual monitoring site visits require substantial time and resources. While interaction with landowners/neighbors and spending time in the landscape is paramount, the ever-growing acreage for which we are responsible, its commonly rugged and remote character, and, now, the realities of social distancing make the ability to remotely monitor properties essential to our work.

Over the years, we have used new technological tools and methods to boost efficiency and accomplish our commitment to perpetual stewardship of protected lands. This year we are excited about integrating aerial monitoring into our stewardship program. Join us to learn more about the future of our aerial monitoring program.

Sarah Sheeran, SAHC Stewardship Director, and Erik Rieger, SAHC Stanback Fellow/Duke University Master’s Student, will present on SAHC’s integration of aerial monitoring into its stewardship program. Erik will also present his summer research and discuss the priorities, decision making, and processes used to create a GIS suitability model and help SAHC decide which of its conserved properties are the best candidates for aerial monitoring.

Registration Link


Aerial photo courtesy of SouthWings and Dennis Oakley, Carolinas’ Nature Photographers Association

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! Read more

Flower Moon Night Hike

Date: Saturday, May 18th
Time: 7 – 10pm
Difficulty:  Moderate (7 on a scale of 10) — 6.0 miles roundtrip, elevation gain: 800′
Terrain: Dirt path (few rocks/roots), steep sections
Cost: FREE for members, $10 for non-members

Join the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and Wicked Weed Brewing at Little Sandy Mush Bald for a chance to see May’s Full Flower Moon. Little Sandy Mush Bald sits atop at 241-acre conservation easement in Madison County. This site is also home to carpets of the beautiful white flower fringed phacelia (Phacelia fimbriata). Participants will take a hike up healed logging roads to Sandy Mush Bald through carpets of the beautiful white flower fringed phacelia (Phacelia fimbriata). At the top all who are of age will receive a can of Appalachia IPA courtesy of Wicked Weed. Space is limited, sign up below.
Registration for this event is full – if you would like to be placed on the waiting list email


Appalachia Session IPA Release

When: Saturday, February 16 
Where: Wicked Weed Brewpub on Biltmore Ave.  in Asheville
Join us at Wicked Weed’s Brewpub for the release of Appalachia, a session IPA brewed with the mountains in mind. Enjoy live, traditional music and enter a chance to win prizes.  10% of all proceeds in stores and restaurants will go to support the efforts of SAHC! 12 packs will be available for purchase.
SAHC staff will be on hand to answer questions about our conservation work, and we welcome you to share your stories with us. What makes these mountains special to you? Share your thoughts and tag #MyAppalachia!
Check out the Facebook event at:

Wolf Moon Night Hike

Date:  Monday, January 21st
Time:  5-8 pm
Difficulty:  Easy (3)
Cost: Free for members, $10 for non-members

Join SAHC for a Full Wolf Moon night hike on the SAHC protected Flatwoods Pasture property! This roughly 0.75 miles to the high-elevation pastures with beautiful, western-facing views from which we can enjoy the sunset. Participants are welcome to bring food and beverages to enjoy an evening picnic – we will have about an hour between sunset and moonrise, during which time we will discuss our land protection work in the area as well as a discussion about red wolves, their conservation, and implications of reintegrating them into the Appalachian Mountains. Finally, when the January “Wolf moon” rises, we will have a group howl!

Registration is full – to be placed on waiting list please email


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