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139 Acres in Beaverdam Creek Watershed

Barn on protected propertySAHC recently purchased 139 acres in the Beaverdam area of Haywood County, connecting the Town of Canton’s Rough Creek watershed property with conserved land previously protected by SAHC. The acquisition will permanently protect wildlife habitat, scenic views from public trails, and water quality in streams.

“This 139-acre tract includes portions of Beaverdam Creek and its tributaries,” explains Conservation Director Hanni Muerdter. “The property fills a protection gap within the watershed, directly connecting Canton’s Rough Creek watershed conservation easement to the west and an SAHC-owned preserve to the north. Together these properties form a 1,120-acre nearly contiguous protected assemblage within the Beaverdam watershed.”

Map of Doubleside Knob area conservationBeaverdam Creek’s water quality is considered to be on the decline, and SAHC’s purchase of the tract improves surface water quality by permanently protecting 2.5 miles of stream on the tract from development. We also plan to manage the property according to best management practices for water quality, which will help reduce sedimentation, bacteria levels, and runoff. This purchase directly supports the Beaverdam Watershed Action Plan, produced by Haywood Waterways and the Pigeon River Fund.

“SAHC’s acquisition of this property complements our work to prevent water quality degradation in Beaverdam Creek, which is considered to be on the decline,” says Eric Romaniszyn, Executive Director of Haywood Waterways Association. “Haywood Waterways works to maintain and improve water quality throughout Haywood County through voluntary initiatives. Our Pigeon River Watershed Action Plan specifically recommends conservation of critical headwater areas, such as the tract recently acquired by SAHC, for the long-term protection of water quality. We certainly appreciate SAHC’s and the partnership’s work to protect these lands and maintain the high quality of our watersheds.”

Former landowner David Ashe contacted SAHC about this property in the Beaverdam Creek watershed after reading about our purchase of the adjoining Doubleside Knob preserve last year. Both tracts were once part of a much larger parcel owned by his wife’s family. David wanted to permanently protect the land in order to honor her.

“She never wanted to see it developed,” he says. “She wouldn’t talk to anyone about selling it. She passed away about a year and a half ago, and I thought that it would be good to preserve it, so it will stay like it is. I think that’s what she would have wanted.”

This acquisition was made possible with a generous seed gift from private donors for the acquisition, support from SAHC’s members, and a $25,000 grant from the Pigeon River Fund of The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.

“This land has been passed down in the same family for over 150 years, and we are so grateful that the previous landowner wanted to see it permanently protected and reached out to SAHC,” adds Muerdter. “We look forward to managing this land for future generations.”

Photo credits: Johnny Davison

SAHC Outreach AmeriCorps Leads OLLI Hiking Course

As a part of our ongoing efforts to connect people with the land we have protected, we are constantly working to expand SAHC’s partner organizations to educate new groups by bringing them to our Community Farm or other properties that we have protected. This spring, SAHC’s AmeriCorps Outreach Member, Haley Smith, partnered up with UNC-Asheville’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) program to lead one of several new hiking courses.

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Winter Tree I.D. Hike – Rough Creek

winter-tree-id-groupEarlier this winter, naturalist Luke Cannon joined SAHC hikers to explore the beautiful Rough Creek Watershed in Canton, NC. In 2003, a conservation easement was placed on the watershed in a joint effort by SAHC and the State of North Carolina to protect 870 acres of near-pristine ecosystems and close to seven miles of streams containing water of outstanding quality. This large tract of land encompasses 12 distinct plant communities, and we hiked primarily through the predominating Rich and Acidic Cove Forests and Montane-Oak Hickory Forest. Read more

Hiking in the Rough Creek Watershed: A respite from winter’s cabin fever.

sumac-on-ridge.jpgPersonal Perspective from SAHC AmeriCorps Stewardship Associate Margot Wallston

“After several weeks of desk time at the office, followed by several days experiencing the worst that this year’s flu season had to offer, cabin fever prompted this SAHC AmeriCorps steward to take advantage of a free Sunday to pay a visit to one of our protected properties in Haywood County, only 30 minutes west of Asheville: the Rough Creek Watershed.

Rough Creek Watershed is an 870-acre conservation easement held by the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, co-managed with  the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, and owned by the Town of Canton. SAHC was instrumental in the protection of this Smoky Mountain jewel. The watershed, which drains into Beaverdam Creek, and then into the Pigeon River, used to serve as the primary water source for Canton, but now it primarily functions as a nature preserve and public pie slice of undisturbed open space.  One of the cool things about this particular conservation easement is that it is accessible to the public. The watershed contains approximately 10 miles of well-maintained trails open for conservation-conscious hikers and bikers to explore. Read more