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192 Acres Protected in Yancey County

dsc_01461.jpgSouthern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) established another conservation easement in Yancey County, NC. The 192 acres rise to an elevation of 5,163 feet at the summit of High Knob.  The property holds spectacular northerly views over the Black Mountains and sits close to several other prominent conservation easements, including the Big Tom Wilson Preserve, public tracts of land such as Pisgah National Forest, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Mount Mitchell State Park. The property is also within several miles of another SAHC easement.

“The Elk Fork property epitomizes what land conservation trusts try to do on a daily basis–protect pieces of land that hold aesthetic, practical, and intrinsic value.” States SAHC Executive Director, Carl Silverstein. “It is pivotal that we continue to protect properties that are highly visible to the public eye.” Elk Fork is definitely that. On clear days, Elk Fork can be seen from Mt. Mitchell and along the Cane River. Read more

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

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

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

Conservancies Complete Protection of Little Yellow Mountain Summit

hawkmountainfarm.jpgJust a few years ago, much of Little Yellow Mountain in Mitchell and Avery counties was slated for development. Today the summit of that 5,504-foot peak is totally protected thanks to the efforts of The Nature Conservancy and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. The two organizations recently closed on a 207-acre tract rising to the summit from the west side of the mountain, ensuring that the entire mountain top will remain free of development. Eventually, all of the property will become part of Yellow Mountain State Natural Area allowing future generations to enjoy this amazing place. Read more

Key Tract Off Parkway Protected in the Craggy Mountains – 37 acres adjacent to Asheville Watershed, Pisgah National Forest, and the Blue Ridge Parkway

chauncysconeflower_carson2.jpgWe worked with Joe Carson, a generous landowner in Buncombe County, who donated a conservation easement on his 37- acre property in Swannanoa. Conservation of this land is crucial because of its location. It is less than a mile from the Blue Ridge Parkway and is adjacent to the protected Asheville Watershed and Pisgah National Forest. It is also close to SAHC held conservation easements that total over 2,500 acres. This easement contributes to the network of protected lands within the Craggy Mountains and protects the scenic integrity of views from the Blue Ridge Parkway and other public roads. Read more