Posts

Preserving Farms – And “A Way of Life”

Anne1Over the past few years, the terms ‘local food’ and ‘farm to table’ have gained greater and greater prominence in our daily conversations. What you may not hear as frequently, however, are some of the underlying concerns for farmland conservation – namely, that local food production requires both local farmland and successful farmers, and that not all farmland is created equal. These concerns are an integral part of the story behind two recent farmland conservation projects completed by the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC).

SAHC recently created conservation easements on two tracts of important, working agricultural lands in northwestern Buncombe County totaling 88 acres. The newly protected 52-acre Watalula Farm tract in Leicester and 36-acre portion of Duckett Farm in Sandy Mush each contain prime agricultural soils. Read more

Music in the Forest – Protecting Bob Moog’s Big Briar Cove

briarcove.jpgMusicians around the world know the name Bob Moog and respect his groundbreaking innovations in electronic instruments. However, what they may not know is that a quiet cove outside Asheville, NC provided a setting of respite and inspiration to nourish his uncanny genius.

In December, we accepted a donated conservation easement on 105 acres of Bob Moog’s property in the South Turkey Creek community of Buncombe County. The quiet cove includes the former home and workshop of local music icon Bob Moog. His widow, Ileana Grams-Moog, donated the conservation easement to SAHC to protect forest habitat and clean water resources on the property. Read more

Hiking Into The Lost Cove

image (7)Although we are in the midst of an arctic freeze in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, we’re eagerly looking forward to the slate of outdoor adventures our outreach team has planned for this year. To whet your appetite, here’s a narrative from one of our 2013 fall hikes – a trek into the 95-acre Lost Cove tract that SAHC purchased in 2012, led by our AmeriCorps PR & Outreach associate Anna Zanetti:

“Lost Cove, once a self-sustaining community nestled on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, has become a mere ghost town with the occasional company of a destination hiker. In late November I led 22 people on a hike to the old settlement where only abandoned and crippled buildings now exist. Read more

Continued Hickory Nut Gap Protection – 62 acres

turtleon-hngbyway.jpgIn mid-December, SAHC protected another tract at Hickory Nut Gap. This new conservation easement preserves 62 acres adjacent to the Florence Nature Preserve and close to the Drovers Road Scenic Byway.  The property will remain privately owned, with permanent protection against future development.

“You may recall SAHC reporting on the three properties we protected at Hickory Nut Gap in December 2013, which totaled 173 acres spanning both sides of the Drovers Road Scenic Byway,” said Michelle Pugliese, SAHC’s Land Protection Director. “This year we were able to expand the protection in the Gap by ensuring that the headwaters and tributaries of Ashworth Creek, and the intact forested views from the Drovers Road Scenic Byway, will remain pristine forever.”

Read more

Tales from the Bird House

leefarese_intern.jpgEarlier this year, we welcomed a series of interns and researchers to the cabin at our 601-acre Grassy Ridge tract in the Highlands of Roan, dubbed ‘the Bird House’ because of the ubiquitous winged wildlife in this rich upland habitat. Lee Farese, one of our first visitors to the cabin, spent several weeks observing and photographing the tract. He recently shared this account of his stay… Read more

Blackrock Mountain – Protecting views from the Blue Ridge Parkway!

Iblackrock-summit-sw-corner-parcel.jpgn October, SAHC purchased the summit of Blackrock Mountain in the Plott Balsam Mountains of Jackson County, with more than 250 surrounding acres. We plan to hold the property and manage it as a nature preserve until it can eventually be transferred to public ownership as park lands.

“All you need to do is stand at the Plott Balsam overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway or hike the trail from Waterrock Knob, to appreciate protecting Blackrock Mountain,” said Michelle Pugliese, SAHC’s Land Protection Director. “The 5,700 ft peak contains rare spruce-fir forest and two headwater tributaries that flow down its slopes. We are so proud to have preserved this view for all to enjoy.” Read more

Youth volunteers tackle stuborn invaders

groupwithrich.jpgThis fall, 6th and 7th grade boys from the French Broad River Academy (FBRA) volunteered to help heal a 45-acre conservation tract in the Sandy Mush area. They spent three days identifying invasive species and learning how to properly eradicate them without disturbing indigenous plants nearby.

Each morning, the boys arrived promptly at 9:30 am, ready to work hard weeding out the invasive plants. Kids and supervising adults split into three groups, and each group received a pair of loppers, hand clippers, rubber gloves, leather gloves, protective eye wear, a trash bag and a little bottle of herbicide that only adults could apply. Read more

Fall “For Love of Beer and Mountains” Partnership Hikes

img_1643.jpgOur new AmeriCorps PR and Outreach Associate, Anna Zanetti, launched into a full schedule of fall hikes when she came on board with us in September. Part of that slate of fall hikes included our “For Love of Beer & Mountains” Clawhammer and Thunderstruck partnership hikes — which luckily occurred on two lovely October weekends. The Thunderstruck hike also gave the group an opportunity to visit one of SAHC’s newly protected tracts  — Blackrock Mountain. Below is Anna’s take on the experience:

“SAHC partnership hikes with Highland Brewing are one of the highlights of my job. These popular group hikes feature protected peaks that are namesakes of Highland Brewing Company’s seasonal beers. The “For Love of Beer and Mountains” partnership, including our guided hikes, helps raise public awareness of the places and species that make our mountains so special. Read more

Swimming in a Sea of Wildflowers

20130427-hiking-group-photo2.jpgThe forecast showed rain for Saturday’s wildflower hike on April 27, but even with the incoming deluge, ten rain-impervious souls showed up to enjoy a few of Spring’s fleeting treasures. The big rains were coming at two so we put on our water repelling soul-suits and set-off on our adventure.

Off we went into the light drizzle, pausing only to take a group photograph as evidence that we were in fact outside and not identifying flowers from laptops in warm, cozy beds. Ted Haddock and his family generously offered their beautiful property as a place to search for spring ephemerals. Glancing up the mountain, the whole group knew we were in for a real treat! The climb was steep but Josh Kelly, Western North Carolina Alliance’s Public Lands Biologist, always had the knack to point out another cool flower or the call of a bird mocking us from far above when the group began to lose its breath. Read more

The Tri-County Traverse

heading-up-the-fields.jpgYou would think that crossing three counties in one day would be an impossible task. Nay, with this grizzled group of veteran hikers, SAHC and land owners Carl and Holley Merschat were able to summit the top of Maney Fields where Buncombe, Madison, and Yancey Counties converge. Despite only having to hike 1.5 miles to the top, the group gained over 1,200 feet of elevation, climbed through cattle gates, and avoided high voltage fences. Truly, a successful day!

For over thirty years, Carl and Holley Merschat have lived in their home tucked away in Barnardsville, NC. There, they raised two kids, and gradually buffered their home with additional land to explore and enjoy. They bought their house in 1974 and the next year bought 58 more acres. Over the next 30 years, the Mershats were able to tack on an additional 60 acres. They heat their home every winter from the wood on their property, grow Shiitake mushrooms, and continue to cultivate a strong relationship with their land. Read more