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2018 Roan Naturalist Travis Bordley

Former AmeriCorps service member Travis Bordley stepped into our Roan Naturalist boots this summer.  Travis spent the majority of his time from May to August on the Appalachian Trail between Carvers Gap and 19 E, recording data, educating hikers, and helping manage negative impacts to the Roan’s fragile, globally important ecosystems.

In total, he observed over 12,600 hikers in the Roan, and had interpretive, educational discussions with more than 4,000 people.

“There were days where I couldn’t believe my eyes at the steady stream of people pouring onto the trail,” says Travis. “These moments made me fear for the sensitive habitat in the area. There were also slow days when visitor usage was low, and I was able to genuinely connect with people.” Read more

Crossnore Boy Scout Troop 814 Volunteer Workday

Ellis Ayers, the Committee Chair for Boy Scout Troop 814 out of Crossnore, NC, heard about our conservation work ‘through the grapevine’ and recognized a great opportunity for his scouts to do local land stewardship.

“I never had the pleasure of being a Boy Scout growing up,” said Travis Bordley, SAHC’s Roan AmeriCorps members. “That explains some odd holes in my outdoor education and training — and was one of many reasons why I was delighted to team up with Boy Scout Troop 814 out of Crossnore NC on behalf of Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.” Read more

UNCA Environmental Studies Student Workday

One of the most fascinating qualities of the Roan Highlands is the complex bio-diversity of the region. High elevation grassy balds colliding with shrubs, spruce-fir and hardwood forests is a potent mix. In the Roan you can find 25 globally rare ecological communities, as declared by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and 5 federally endangered species. This is a major reason why we value the Roan and do close monitoring of exotic invasive species.

Exotic invasive species in the Roan Highlands are a threat to the bio-diversity of the region. So when Oriental bittersweet was found at our Grassy Ridge property, we enlisted the help of UNC-Asheville Environmental Studies majors who understood the seriousness of this threat.

Read more

UNCA Outdoor Program Backpacking Trip

It was no joke when UNC-Asheville students and SAHC’s Travis Bordley started their backpacking trip, trapped in clouds on April Fools Day. Travis, our AmeriCorps Roan Outreach Coordinator, and eight students headed out from Carvers Gap for a backpacking adventure along the Appalachian Trail — a route that boasts big views. The students, including three leaders from UNC-Asheville’s Outdoor Program, were unfazed and trekked boldly into the cloudy mist. For a few students this was their first time backpacking. Read more

Big Rock Creek

bigrockrhodo.jpgFormerly operated as a camp and retreat, the Big Rock Creek tract adjoining the Pisgah National Forest in Mitchell County, NC has been imbued with love and memories for decades. We purchased the high elevation 58-acre parcel in the Highlands of Roan to permanently preserve this cherished place west of Hughes Gap, just a half mile south of the Appalachian Trail (AT).

Once occupied by TrailRidge Mountain Camp and later Camp Pleiades, the tract can be viewed from the AT south of Hughes Gap and from Roan High Bluff. Landowners Jacque Allen and Barbara Benisch, who operated Camp Pleiades for eight years, reached out to SAHC to preserve the land’s natural, recreational, and cultural  features. Read more

Nature Valley/NPCA/SAHC partner in Highlands of Roan

naturevalleygroup.jpg“All good things are wild and free”  – Henry David Thoreau

The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy began some forty years ago with a mission to protect the Highlands of Roan. We don’t have a lot of places left that make us feel “wild and free” anymore, at least not in the way Thoreau implied. While we have constructed ways and means to feel these ideals, arguably none of them are as effective, or human, as standing atop an undeveloped landscape. The Roan is certainly wild and free, but only because of the hard work and care that so many people have contributed. Unfortunately we aren’t done yet. As long as we still face threats to our wild places, good people will keep working. SAHC is lucky enough to count many of these willing people among our ranks.

On Saturday October 19th, SAHC hosted a volunteer work day on our Grassy Ridge property within the Highlands of Roan. The day was a culmination of work sponsored through a grant from National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), who has partnered with Nature Valley to fund projects that benefit National Parks around America. Nature Valley also partnered with National Geographic travel journalist Andrew Evans to help document the importance of our project. Read more

Crucial Property Protected Adjacent to Yellow Mountain in the Highlands of Roan

justice-creek-falls-wl-july-2013-_5475The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, we acquired the title to a critically significant property in the Yellow Mountain State Natural Area in the Highlands of Roan. This 225 acre tract will be protected forever.

As Board Member, Jay Leutze put it, “Spear Tops has it all.” From endangered and threatened species such as Rock Gnome Lichen and Trailing Wolfsbane, to a stunning waterfall, this property is one of SAHC’s most spectacular pieces of land. At 4,900 at the summit, Spear Tops offers remarkable views of the Highlands of Roan and is a crucial addition to North Carolina’s conservation landscape. 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 Another Key Tract in the Highlands of Roan

Protected PropertiesOn Friday, November 12th   we closed on the purchase of the 136-acre Views at Cranberry tract on Hump mountain in the Highlands of Roan. The property has been a longtime priority of SAHC because it presents an opportunity to preserve headwater streams of the Elk River watershed, which protects the public’s water sources, and to preserve the integrity of the Roan Mountain Massif as a landscape-scale ecological unit. The priority tract was actually marketed for sale as a development called “The Views at Cranberry” for over three years, which illustrates how close to development this environmentally significant property was. Read more

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