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SAHC purchases 248 acres in Sandy Mush community – the Robinson Rough property

img_5725.jpgOn December 28, 2011, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy saved another special piece of land from development in the Sandy Mush community of Buncombe County, North Carolina. The 248-acre property holds pristine streams, steep slopes, and is adjacent to working farmlands. Due to a slow economy and eager seller, SAHC was able to acquire this valuable property at a great value.

“The property could have been sold to a developer in a heartbeat, but we acted quickly and protected another striking piece of land,” said Carl Silverstein, SAHC’s Executive Director. Located at the end of a state road with excellent access, southern exposure and creeks, the property was just waiting for a developer to buy it, according to William Hamilton, SAHC’s Farmland Program Director.

“It would have been a shame for a large development to go in right next to properties that SAHC, Buncombe County, and landowners in the area have worked so hard to preserve,” said Hamilton. Read more

192 Acres Protected in Yancey County

dsc_01461.jpgSouthern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) established another conservation easement in Yancey County, NC. The 192 acres rise to an elevation of 5,163 feet at the summit of High Knob.  The property holds spectacular northerly views over the Black Mountains and sits close to several other prominent conservation easements, including the Big Tom Wilson Preserve, public tracts of land such as Pisgah National Forest, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Mount Mitchell State Park. The property is also within several miles of another SAHC easement.

“The Elk Fork property epitomizes what land conservation trusts try to do on a daily basis–protect pieces of land that hold aesthetic, practical, and intrinsic value.” States SAHC Executive Director, Carl Silverstein. “It is pivotal that we continue to protect properties that are highly visible to the public eye.” Elk Fork is definitely that. On clear days, Elk Fork can be seen from Mt. Mitchell and along the Cane River. Read more

SAHC transfers 35 acres to the US Forest Service

2011-01-20-wesser-bald-fs-monitoring-photo-0041.jpgOn August 8th, 2011, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC)  transferred 35 crucial acres to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and the US Forest Service. Located in Macon County, North Carolina, Wesser Bald will be utilized as a buffer between ATC lands and private property which is at risk of being developed.

SAHC originally acquired the 35 acres in 2007, with the intent to sell the land to the Forest Service once the Forest Service attained the appropriate funding. Although it has been four years since the original acquisition, the transfer ensures that the ecological standards of Wesser Bald will always be upheld.  The addition of this tract, along with an adjoining 42 acres on which SAHC holds a conservation easement, closes a wide gap in a swath of contiguous Forest Service lands that were vulnerable to development. Read more

Habitat Restoration Day on Little Hump Mountain

img_3157.jpgSAHC and a slew of volunteers spent a full day mowing, trimming, and cutting to create additional habitat for the rare and “near threatened” golden-winged warbler on Little Hump Mountain in the Highlands of Roan. The Golden-winged Warbler (GWW) is an early successional species that is dependent on a unique habitat consisting of sparse trees, shrubs, and abandoned fields. Unfortunately, the GWW’s habitat is rapidly disappearing, as old farmsteads and other early successional habitats are developing  back into forested land.

Under the leadership of SAHC’s seasonal ecologist, Chris Coxen, volunteers created additional habitat space for these incredible birds in the hopes to increase the number of nesting pairs next spring and summer on Little Hump Mountain. Read more

Conservation Success in Avery County: 199 More Acres Protected in the Highlands of Roan!

view-from-avery-airfield.jpgSouthern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy recently added 199 more acres of protected land within the Yellow Mountain State Natural Area planning boundary through a land purchase.  Located along the North Carolina/Tennessee state line, the Highlands of Roan project has been SAHC’s top priority since its founding in 1974.  Since then, we have led an effort to protect nearly 19,000 acres in the landscape.  Other key partners working in the landscape include The Nature Conservancy, state parks agencies in North Carolina and Tennessee, the US Forest Service, and the National Park Service. Read more

Landowners Protect 13 Acres in Haywood County

View of PropertyRural preservation leaders in the Bethel community of Haywood County have announced the permanent protection land along Garden Creek. The property features 13 acres of largely agricultural land, which provides corn, hay, and the critical calving unit for a larger cow-calf operation. The tract also includes a residential area, a barn, and associated farm buildings. While the public will not have access to the property, the land includes more than 1,000 feet of Garden Creek, which helps provide water for downstream farmers, the Towns of Canton and Clyde, Evergreen Paper, trout, one species of rare fish, two species of rare freshwater mussels, and hellbender salamanders. Read more

The Gott Farm – Preserved Forever

Peter and Polly GottThe Gott’s 218-acre farm in Madison County is an icon of responsible land management and sustainability. Peter and Polly take seriously their responsibility of stewarding the land. Being able to hand their property down to their children intact is one of their highest priorities. To do that, they decided to put their land into conservation easements with Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. The first conservation easement was completed in 2002 and protected 210 acres. The farm is now protected in its entirety; the second easement was signed on April 1st, 2011, and protects the remaining eight acres, which are adjacent to Pisgah National Forest. These conservation easements assure that the land where Peter and Polly live and raised their family will be here, relatively the same, for generations to come.

“Without the conservation easements, who knows what could happen to our farm when we’re gone? said Polly. “The conservation easements ensure that nothing will happen.” The property is also within the viewshed of the Appalachian Trail and adds to the large contiguous area of protected lands in Madison County. Read more

SAHC Takes Flight: Aerial Photographs of Some Protected Properties and Surrounding Areas

The Point at Lake Glenville Conservation EasementSouthWings, founded in 1996, is a conservation and public benefit aviation non-profit that provides skilled pilots and aerial education to enhance conservation efforts across the Southeast. These aerial photographs were taken from a SouthWings plane during an SAHC monitoring visit. Read more

Conservancies Join Together to Reach Conservation Goals on Little Yellow Mountain

Little Yellow MountainThe Nature Conservancy and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy ushered in the 35th anniversary of their conservation partnership with the joint purchase of the 104-acre Indian Saddle tract on Little Yellow Mountain in Avery County. The property was the result of a foreclosure proceeding after a projected development project failed and has been a long-time priority for both organizations.

“This tract bridges a gap between the mountain peak, which the Nature Conservancy bought last year, and Mollie’s Branch, which the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy protected earlier,” explains David Ray, NC Mountains Program Director for the Nature Conservancy. “Successful conservation is a matter of cooperation, not competition.” Together, the two conservancies have now protected 1,115 acres on Little Yellow Mountain that would otherwise have been developed. Read more

SAHC Purchases 60-acre Tract in Smoky Mountain Focus Area

Blackrock tractJust last week we closed on the purchase of a 60-acre tract in the Plott Balsam mountains, just north of Sylva in Jackson County. The Plott Balsam mountain range looms over Sylva and Waynesville in beautiful western North Carolina. These mountains are within SAHC’s Smoky Mountains focus area and the addition of this property contributes significantly to SAHC’s protection goals.

Located within the Yellow Face/Blackrock Mountain State Natural Heritage Area as well as the Plott Balsams Important Bird Area, the property has significant conservation values and adds to the connectivity of protected lands in the area. It adjoins the Nature Conservancy’s 1,595-acre Plott Balsam Preserve and is very near to the Sylva watershed park, which is protected by a conservation easement and connected to the watershed by trails maintained by Western Carolina University students. Read more