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

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

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

Namaste, Yoga on the Mountain


pa0200711.jpgThe first weekend of October, we joined up with Lighten Up Yoga for a wonderful Sunday afternoon of hiking and chaturangas on beautiful Hemphill Bald, above Maggie Valley, NC. Folks came out for a gorgeous day that warmed up nicely. Once up top, everyone practiced poses under the tutelage of Lighten up Yoga’s instructor, Kim Drye, for an opportunity to get out of the studio and practice outside besides an incredible collage of fall colors. Hemphill Bald was an exceptionally special spot to practice yoga because of the unrivaled views, and because it is the setting for a remarkable conservation easement in western North Carolina.  Read more

492 Acres Protected around Asheville Watershed

p1270005-1.jpgWe recently purchased 492 acres of land adjacent to the Asheville watershed, permanently protecting stunning vistas and watershed headwaters just 19 miles outside the city of Asheville. Preserving this Laurel Ridge property from potential future development also keeps intact a major portion of views from the Blue Ridge Parkway and Craggy Gardens Visitor Center.

“This acquisition is particularly exciting because the size and location of the property strengthens the protected landscape between the Asheville and Bee Tree watersheds,” says Carl Silverstein, Executive Director for SAHC. “This provides a positive impact on water quality as well as keen advantage in protecting wildlife habitat, forest quality, and other conservation values.”

Approximately 4 miles of streams exist on the property, including Laurel Branch, a significant tributary of the Swannanoa River. From the Asheville Watershed to Mount Mitchell, the Laurel Ridge property connects to an expansive network of protected land in the Black and Craggy Mountains. The property rises to 4800 feet in elevation, and contains hundreds of acres of high quality hardwood forest and several rare natural communities. 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

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

Welcome and Thanks to our Board of Trustees

SAHC_Logo_Official-with-WebsiteSAHC is honored and excited to welcome the following new Trustees, elected to serve a new first term on the Board. We are fortunate to have such a dedicated and diverse group of people who will offer a multitude of different skills and insight to SAHC over the upcoming three year term. Here are our new Trustees:

Bill Lowndes

Bill has a long history with SAHC, as he served on the board in the 1970s, and was SAHC’s second Treasurer. In 2004, he rejoined the board, and served until 2010. Bill has been instrumental in leading SAHC’s institutional and programmatic growth over the years. Bill currently serves on the SAHC’s Planning Committee, Nominating and Board Development Committee, and Fundraising Committee. Bill’s work on the Human Resources Committee has been essential in fostering a strong relationship between board and staff at SAHC.

Kathy Singleton

Kathy lives in Kingsport, and is an attorney with Wilson Worley Moore Gamble and Stout law firm. Her passion for the outdoors and love of Roan make her an incredible advocate and representative for SAHC. Kathy comes to SAHC as an influential community leader, as she serves as the chairperson of the Scholarship Committee for the Women’s Symphony Committee of Kingsport, Tennessee. Kathy’s service with Friends in Need, INC., Kingsport Tomorrow, and Junior League of Kingsport are just several examples of her tireless efforts to improve her local and regional communities. SAHC is thrilled to have her on board this next term.

Courtney Blossman

Courtney currently lives in Asheville, after having moved recently from Coastal Mississippi. Since the 1970s, she has been a frequent visitor to the mountains and has always had a deep appreciation for the natural world. Besides her passion for protecting the environment, Courtney has also been a staunch supporter of the arts. Her contributions on the board of the Nature Conservancy-MS Chapter and as former President of the Gulf Islands National Seashore Advisory Committee reflect her passion to protect the integrity of our land for future generations. Courtney’s involvement over the last 37 years in the non-profit sector will give SAHC invaluable perspective and vision for the future.

Jack Hamilton

Jack and his family have lived in Asheville for the last 18 years, where he is a corporate and tax attorney at Roberts and Stevens law firm. He has been an active supporter of SAHC for several years and will have much to offer for the following term. He has over a decade of experience serving as the Chair of the Diana Wortham Theatre, Board of Directors, and on the Finance Committee of the United Way. Jack’s expertise and dedication will undoubtedly contribute to the development and growth of SAHC during the next term.

Jeanette Blazier and Bruce Cunningham of Kingsport, TN were also re-elected for their second three-year term.

SAHC is thrilled to have these talented, passionate, and driven Trustees to further our mission to protect and conserve the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee.  Their service and dedication to SAHC will positively affect the shape of these mountains for generations to come.

We would also like to express our deep appreciation to the following trustees who rotated off the Board this year: Joe DeLoach, Doris Gove, Bill Jones, Witt Langstaff, Jr., Tom Laughlin, and Lach Zemp. The insight, direction, and enthusiasm of these individuals have continued to cultivate a tradition of great achievement and success within SAHC. We are a deeply grateful for their hard work and service.