Posts

Landmark Protection on Little Pisgah Mountain

little-pisgah-052.jpgOn December 22, 2011, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy recorded conservation easements protecting 474 acres in southern Buncombe County. This project combines with neighboring conservation easements and other preserves to bring the total amount of land protected on Little Pisgah Mountain to more than 1,400 acres.

“The Little Pisgah project is a major step in preservation of mountaintops in an important focus area of the Buncombe County land conservation plan,” according to Albert Sneed, chairman of the Buncombe County Conservation Advisory Board. The property contains 100 acres of high elevation pasture, rock outcrops and cliffs, and 374 acres of forested land, rising to an elevation of 4,400 feet on the top of Little Pisgah Mountain. Read more

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy purchases 90 acres adjacent to public trails and the Woodfin watershed in Buncombe County

img_7434On Friday, December 16, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) purchased 90 acres on Snowball Mountain in Buncombe County, permanently preserving scenic views for recreational visitors, clean water sources for area residents, and habitat for native species. Nestled in the publicly treasured Craggy Mountains, this tract is highly visible from the Blue Ridge Parkway and national forest land, and it adjoins the publicly accessible Snowball Mountain Trail and Camp Sequoyah Trail.

“Protecting part of Snowball Mountain is a beautiful example of what we try to do here at SAHC,” says SAHC’s Land Protection Director, Michelle Pugliese. “Snowball Mountain holds immense conservation value as it will protect viewsheds, threatened wildlife habitat, high water quality, biodiversity, and pockets of quality high elevation northern hardwood forest. We are thankful to work with such generous landowners and conservationists on this project.” Read more

114-acre Property Protected in the Swannanoa Mountains

forest.jpgAt the end of October, we closed on a 114-acre conservation easement in the beautiful Swannanoa Mountains, along Jim’s Branch, that will protect important tributaries that flow into Christian Creek and is within 6,600 linear feet of the French Broad river basin.

Jim’s Branch is approximately two and a half miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway and practically adjacent to two other properties held by SAHC.  While there is no direct landscape connectivity between Jim’s Branch and the Blue Ridge Parkway or other conservation lands, the conservation easement is connected to neighboring forested land, other SAHC conservation easements, and natural corridors that allow for species movement. Jim’s Branch close proximity to other protected land greatly increases the conservation value of the property and the viewshed from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Read more

Acres along Appalachian Trail Corridor and Buck Mountain Protected

dcp01977.jpgSAHC has secured another small but significant tract of land protecting the Appalachian Trail (AT). This 13.2-acre project will leave an indelible mark on the AT viewshed. Buck Mountain’s visibility to the public makes the property an essential acquisition. Although there are no stunning viewsheds or overlooks from the property, Buck Mountain’s scenic and recreational value is immeasurable due to its lasting presence to any AT thru-hiker.

The property is located within the boundaries of the Cherokee National Forest, and abuts  the National Forest System lands on two sides and will provide consolidation and conservation of open space, viewsheds and watersheds. Read more

For Love of Beer and Mountains: Seven Sisters Hike

Hikers at the summit of Big PineyThe Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy became educational partners with Highland Brewing Company in June 2010. Highland Brewing Company is now able to give back to the mountains that provide Highland employees with off-duty recreation, supply clean water for its beer, and lend their names to the company’s seasonal brews.

To solidify their partnership and educate the public, the organizations lead guided hikes together on the peaks each seasonal beer is named after.

Saturday, November 4th marked the third hike the partners have led together and was on the West Ridge Trail which crosses each of the Seven Sisters mountains. The hike was in honor of the release of the Seven Sisters abbey-style ale, a classic Belgian Ale that features sweet aromas and a hint of nuttiness.

The Seven Sisters are the mythical “daughters” of Graybeard, the tallest peak on SAHC’s 2,450 acre Montreat conservation easement. They are seven ascending peaks located south of Graybeard Mountain. Their names are Tomahawk (elevation 3,680 ft.), Little Piney or Stomping Knob (3,960 ft.), Big Piney (4,180 ft.), unnamed sister (4,360 ft.), Forked Ridge Knob (4,511 ft.), unnamed sister (4,830 ft.), Little Slaty (5,260 ft.), and the tallest sister, Big Slaty or False Graybeard (5,260 ft.). These seven peaks make up the western border of the conservation easement. The easement is part of several thousand acres of contiguous forested lands that is vital to the unique plant and wildlife populations and in protecting headwater streams of the French Broad watershed from sedimentation and other pollution. Highland Brewing Company realizes that their high quality beer would not be possible without the fresh water that is safeguarded by the Montreat easement and the other surrounding forested lands.

To celebrate, all the hikers got the opportunity to taste the Seven Sisters ale when the group reached the summit of the third sister, Big Piney. It was an unusually cold November day and the views were made even better by snowy ridges in the distance. Overall it was a rewarding, challenging hike and everyone fell a little more in love with beer and mountains…

Prime Farmland Soils Producing Local Food Preserved Forever

Prime Farmland, Fairview, NCSAHC has advanced its conservation work in the Fairview farming community by protecting 28 more acres that include productive farmland used by Hickory Nut Gap Meats and Flying Cloud Farm, two popular local farming operations. These enterprises provide local food to 4 tailgate markets, Greenlife Grocery and Earth Fare Supermarkets, and over 100 families through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares.

The land adjoins the 290-acre Hickory Nut Gap Farm conservation easement, which SAHC closed in December 2008. The new easement furthers SAHC’s vision of protecting agricultural soils and working farms to secure our region’s local food production for the future. Since 2005, SAHC has protected over 3,000 acres of working farmland through its Farmland Preservation Program. Read more