Posts Tagged With: SAHC

Rice Creek – Protecting the View from the Appalachian Trail

 

The view from the AT (Rice Creek tract in the foreground).

The view from the AT (Rice Creek tract in the foreground).

The Rice Creek tract is located 500 ft. from the AT and adjacent to the Cherokee National Forest.

The Rice Creek tract is located 500 ft. from the AT and adjacent to the Cherokee National Forest.

Located barely 500’ from the Appalachian Trail (AT), the beautifully wooded Rice Creek tract has been a conservation priority for the US Forest Service (USFS) and Appalachian Trail Conservancy for over 15 years. We purchased the 77-acre property near Rocky Fork in Unicoi County with the intent to later transfer it to the Cherokee National Forest.

With a top elevation of 4,300 ft., the tract is visible from the AT north of Lick Rock and around Sugarloaf Gap.
“This acquisition will provide permanent protection for the AT corridor,” said Land Protection Director Michelle Pugliese. “When the landowner decided to sell the tract, we were pleased to be able to purchase it to preserve the views and wilderness experience for hikers along the Trail.”

The purchase also protects bird habitat and a tributary of Rice Creek, which runs along the southern tip of the property.
Fred and Alice Stanback made a generous gift to enable SAHC to move quickly to purchase the tract. SAHC will eventually transfer the property to the Cherokee National Forest. In the short term,
we will manage the undeveloped land for forest health.

Feet on the Ground: Partners for Protecting the AT Corridor

Standing on the Appalachian Trail, looking towards the Rice Creek tract: (L to R) Morgan Sommerville of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, SAHC’s AmeriCorps Associate Caitlin Edenfield, and Dave Ferguson and Scotty Meyers with Cherokee National Forest.

Standing on the Appalachian Trail, looking towards the Rice Creek tract: (L to R) Morgan Sommerville of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, SAHC’s AmeriCorps Associate Caitlin Edenfield, and Dave Ferguson and Scotty Meyers with Cherokee National Forest.

“While working on this project, I hiked on the AT with our partners from the Cherokee National Forest and Appalachian Trail Conservancy.  Our mission – to  locate the upper boundary of the Rice Creek property and assess its visibility from the AT.  There is no substitute for hiking boots on the Trail when evaluating these issues!  Adjacent to the property boundary, the forest cover is mature and offers a relatively open view into the property, confirming that any construction on the upper elevations would in fact be visible from the Trail.  We stopped to enjoy the view from the AT, with the Rice Creek property prominent in the viewshed [photo below].  The trip was an excellent opportunity for collaboration, as well as a fun day of hiking.”

— Michelle Pugliese, SAHC Land Protection Director

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Big Rock Creek

Rhododendron thicket on the Big Rock Creek tract.

Rhododendron thicket on the Big Rock Creek tract.

 

Formerly 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.

“We loved the property for what it gave us — friends, fun, great memories, and summers in the mountains,” says Allen. “When we decided to sell the property we knew we wanted to protect it from development, and that is when we learned about SAHC. I am so glad to know that the place we so loved will always be taken care of and looked after by a great group of caring people.”

The Big Rock Creek tract is located west of Hughes Gap near the AT.

The Big Rock Creek tract is located west of Hughes Gap near the AT.

The tract rises to 3,940 ft. elevation on the north side, and four tributaries to Big Rock Creek flow through it. Big Rock Creek provides trout habitat and is part of the North Toe River watershed.

Fred and Alice Stanback made a generous contribution which enabled us to purchase the property. The owners generously agreed to sell the tract to SAHC below appraised market value.

“Preserving this remarkable property in the shadow of Roan High Knob will secure habitat and clean headwater sources as well as recreation opportunities for generations to come,” said Executive Director Carl Silverstein.

We plan to manage the undeveloped land for forest health, and maintain a hiking trail through the property to the adjoining Pisgah National Forest and the AT.  The spirit of education and community that began with TrailRidge Mountain Camp and carried forward with Camp Pleiades will now be
honored by SAHC.

TrailRidge Mountain Camp

Coming off a TrailRidge backpacking trip in the 1980s, Michael Andry was the leader. (Photo courtesy /www.trailridge.info)

Coming off a TrailRidge backpacking trip in the 1980s, Michael Andry was the leader. (Photo courtesy /www.trailridge.info)

“For two months I slept in a hammock under a plastic tarp and showered from a solar-heated water bag. We had torrential rains and mud everywhere, but it was wonderful.”

Former SAHC President Michael Andry spent the summers of 1982 and ‘83 as a counselor at TrailRidge Mountain Camp, helping to build the camp’s trails and facilities and guiding youth outdoors.

“We built the trail that connects to the AT and particularly enjoyed the full moon camping trips on Roan’s grassy balds. For two summers, we had a grand old time roaming over those mountains. In fact, it was a major reason I moved to the Asheville area. Hearing about SAHC’s work in the Roan brought back a lot of old memories, so I was happy to become involved with the organization.”

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Camby Mountain

Camby Mountain, viewed from the Drovers Road Scenic Byway.

Camby Mountain, viewed from the Drovers Road Scenic Byway.

Peeking above a pastoral setting of rolling hills, panoramic mountain views surround the Drovers Road Scenic Byway. In the western portion of the Fairview Farming Community, Camby Mountain dominates the skyline.

Smith Farms Inc. partnered with SAHC to protect scenic Camby Mountain from subdivision and development. GD Smith, President of Smith Farms Inc., and his wife Janice Smith closed on a conservation easement with SAHC on the 58-acre mountainside above their farm in Fairview.

“The Smith family is doing a great thing for Fairview by protecting scenic views from the valley,” said Farmland Program Director William Hamilton. “We are so grateful to have a chance to work with them and secure the view of Camby Mountain from the byway.”

The property contains a prominent ridgeline and mountain face highly visible from Drovers Road Scenic Byway US-74A as well as from other public roadways and vantage points in the community.  The portion of the tract protected by conservation easement includes the upland, forested area rising above Smith Farms.

“Protecting this ridgeline is an important part of preserving the beloved mountain landscape of Buncombe County along the federally designated scenic byway between Asheville and Chimney Rock State Park,” added Hamilton.

Camby Mountain and other protected tracts within  the Fairview area.

Camby Mountain and other protected tracts within the Fairview area.

 

This project was made possible by a generous gift from Fred and Alice Stanback; funding from the Federal Scenic Byways program, Buncombe County, and the Conservation Trust for NC; and the generosity of the landowners. Altogether, SAHC has conserved approximately 1,500 acres in the Fairview area.

 “The Smiths’ foresight in protecting Camby Mountain from subdivision and development is a major step in securing the scenic beauty and natural landscape in southeast Buncombe County,” said Executive Director Carl Silverstein.

Camby Mountain is near 1,830 acres of conservation easements and fee simple land held by SAHC, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, and the Nature Conservancy, including Hickory Nut Gap Farm, Flying Cloud Farm, Little Pisgah Mountain, Blue Ridge Pastures, and the Florence Preserve.

The connectivity afforded by protecting Camby Mountain at Smith Farms so near other large tracts supports diverse wildlife, including black bear and bobcat; smaller mammal species such as red fox; large birds such as wild turkey, grouse, barred owl, and red tailed hawk; small song birds and neotropical migratory birds; and a variety of species of amphibians and reptiles.

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Sandy Mush Cycle to Farm 2014

Michelle_cycletoFarm

SAHC’s Land Protection Director Michelle Pugliese, climbing Doggett Mountain during the 2013 Sandy Mush Cycle to Farm

It’s harvest time again —And, time for the second annual Sandy Mush Cycle to Farm! This year’s ride will take place on Saturday, October 11. Along the route, riders will pass pass through the scenic Sandy Mush landscape (enjoying views of 6,000 acres protected by SAHC).

This year, SAHC is sponsoring the safety stop at the Reeves Homeplace, where we are currently working on a new farmland conservation easement. The safety stop will be positioned before riders climb to the summit of Doggett Mountain.

As with all Cycle to Farm events, created by Velo Girl Rides, the Sandy Mush location provides participants with a tour of local farms by bicycle, stunning scenery of this beautiful area, tasty food samples crafted by the farms, and products for sale at every farm (including at the Finish, Addison Farms Vineyard).   And, of course, the Fabulous After Party!

CTF_by_VGR_horiz_brownIn addition to the farm stops, this is a fully supported ride with bike mechanic support at the start, support and gear vehicles on the course, event ambassadors to ride along and keep you on course, Fire/EMS personnel on the course, and a well-marked route.

Click here for the full event schedule, including packet pickup.

There are two Routes to choose from:

“Doggett Challenge” – Approx. 70 miles through beautiful country on (mostly) low-traffic roads

  • Challenging route with plenty of climbing (To the summit of Doggett Mountain!)
  • Approximate total elevation gain 6,300feet
  • See the route and elevation profile at RideWithGPS

“Metric Century” – Approx. 56 miles through beautiful country on (mostly) low-traffic roads

  • Less climbing, but still challenging
  • Approximate total elevation gain 4,600feet
  • See the route and elevation profile at RideWithGPS

Register Now: NOTE Registration for this event will close when all 200 spots are sold or at midnight on October 1, 2014, whichever comes first. For more info or to register, visit: cycletofarm.org/sandymush

Call for Volunteers: As a Sponsor, SAHC is helping to recruit volunteers for the Sandy Mush Cycle to Farm. Click here to sign up for a position at our safety stop, and/or contact michelle@appalachian.org to let us know you’re volunteering on behalf of SAHC.

Land Conservation along the Cycle to Farm Route

 

 

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Raft Out the Trash!

Raft Out the Trash Volunteers, and the haul.

Raft Out the Trash Volunteers, and the haul.

Where would we be without our volunteers and amazing AmeriCorps Project Conserve members? Our “Raft Out the Trash” event  earlier this year reflects a stellar example of how these team members’ incredible initiative, drive and dedication help us achieve conservation success.

Since protecting the Lost Cove tract in 2012, we at SAHC have heard over and over how much this special place resonates with people. Unfortunately, however, years of illegal use had marred the beauty of the cove – and left literally tons of trash strewn about. When our AmeriCorps Outreach & PR Associate, Anna Zanetti, first scouted a hike into Lost Cove, she was appalled by what she found and commenced to plan an ambitious volunteer excursion to take care of it. The resulting “Raft Out the Trash” event was part of our celebration of Earth Month 2014, and this is Anna’s account of the day:

“The arrival of summer entices us to bask in the beauty of our mountains and rivers. Unfortunately, a recent volunteer experience with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) reminded me not to take our natural spaces for granted. I led a group of volunteers into the Nolichucky Gorge to “Raft Out The Trash” from a secluded, protected tract near the NC/TN border; and what we found there could be a poster lesson for “Leave No Trace.”

Before

Before

I recruited 24 volunteers to clean up scars of vandalism and debris in Lost Cove, a historic ghost town surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest. USA Raft generously offered their services in partnership for the volunteer day, replacing a strenuous trek out of the gorge with an adventurous rafting trip after a long and rewarding day of service.

After

After

On the morning of the event, we met a group of cheerful volunteers at USA Raft’s outpost in Erwin Tennessee and proceeded to the trail head. After soaking in the sun and views from the meadow above the gorge, we began a three-mile descent to the Lost Cove settlement, surveyed the damage, and divided into two groups to conquer the trash.

It was seriously sad. One group picked up beer cans, glass containers, and even clothing littered around the site. The other intrepid half of our party forayed into the more-than-knee-deep pit of garbage filling one of the remaining historic outbuildings, probably once used as an agricultural store house. They gathered up a hefty load of bottles, cans, shards of glass, scraps of plastic, aluminum foil, even pots and pans — the remnants of camps where people had come down to enjoy the cove and left much more than just a trace.

A little ingenuity goes a long way!

A little ingenuity goes a long way!

Despite the dirty work, we were still pretty fresh after filling our bags with garbage. But that’s when the real challenge hit us: How were we going to carry the bags (each containing around 100 lbs. of trash) down about a mile of the steepest, rockiest terrain to the meeting point with USA Raft? In cases like this, a little ingenuity goes a long way.

Teamwork!

Teamwork!

Henry, one of our volunteers, suggested we tie the bags of trash onto sturdy branches to help displace the weight on our shoulders. Working in pairs, and stopping along the way to take breaks and check out some of the blooming wildflowers, our crew finally reached the river. We rested underneath the shady trees to rejuvenate and ate lunch atop a rock bluff overlooking the Nolichucky River. Struggling with fatigue in the last portion of our trek, our group certainly gained a greater appreciation for the folks who had once inhabited the Lost Cove settlement and hiked goods and supplies up that steep trail!

Hiking down the trash.

Hiking down the trash.

After lunch the raft guides arrived. They pulled up to the beach with five rafts and ten guides, each a rollicking river character. With professional ease and an entertaining air, the guides ushered our group into four of the rafts and helped load the 23 bags of trash onto the last one — and off we went down the class three rapids!

When the passenger rafts paused for a break, we looked around and wondered, where is all the trash? Then, we turned to see one heroic guide managing double oars and keeping the Raft o’Trash afloat. Major kudos to him for navigating the class 3 rapids with all that unwieldy weight! And a huge ‘Thank You’ to USA Raft for safely transporting the trash and volunteers three miles down-river where food, music and fellowship awaited us at the Pickin’ and Paddlin’ event. We had an amazing time on the river and loved the character and camaraderie of the USA Raft staff.

The Raft O'Trash

The Raft O’Trash

After months of preparation and coordination among staff members and USA Raft, the Lost Cove “Raft Out The Trash” event was here and gone. The event was truly a bonding experience for all of us, but it has brought me the greatest happiness to provide this outing for SAHC and all of our volunteers. The experience also deeply underscored the need to remind all who use our beautiful outdoor spaces to strive to Leave No Trace, “to leave only footprints and take only memories.” As you  hike, camp and enjoy the breathtaking mountains around us this summer, please remember to pack out what you bring in – and leave it for others to enjoy in the future, too!

Thank you to all our volunteers, guides, and USA Raft!

Thank you to all our volunteers, guides, and USA Raft!

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Buzzz, buzz, buzz – Bees Still Buzzin!

Good news this summer! Our rescued honeybees made it through the winter – and when Community Farm and Food Assistant Yael Girard peeked inside the hive recently, she had this story to tell:

SAHC Community Farm and Food Assistant Yael Girard inspects the hive.

SAHC Community Farm and Food Assistant Yael Girard inspects the hive.

“The air was hot and heavy with humidity. Below the sounds of bird chirps and wind across the hayfield hummed the low vibration of thousands of tiny bodies beating in unison. The breeze shifted, and the smell of wildflower honey, rich and sweet, filled the air. Lifting off the propolis covered lid of the SAHC Community Farm beehive, I rejoiced to see tiny bee bodies hard at work.

 

The hive survived the winter.

The rescued hive survived the winter.

Last September, I stumbled upon a swarm of bees that had lost their home. We were able to successfully hive them, but it came with the understanding that they might not make it through the winter. These days, even experienced beekeepers with established healthy colonies are losing multiple hives each year. This colony had lost its home, all its honey and pollen stores, and all its developing brood. The entire swarm was no bigger than a volleyball when clustered together. I talked with several beekeeping experts in the area and they said our chances weren’t great given all those factors. However, I knew the other option was to let them attempt to survive without assistance, and I wasn’t ready to give up on them yet.

The colony  is now growing.

The colony is now growing.

Throughout the brutally cold winter we fed the bees a sugar syrup mixture and checked on them regularly. In the dead of winter, the group was no bigger than a softball. Each visit to the hive brought the dread that upon lifting the lid we would find it either deserted or full of dead bees. We underestimated our swarm. Through the negative zero days and nights they beat their wings and huddled closer together. On a spring day with temperatures just over 60 degrees I saw the first few worker bees crawl outside, stretch their wings in the sun, and begin the seasonal search for flowers.

Busy as bees!

Busy as bees!

Since then, the bees have astounded us. At this point, they have successfully filled 3 medium hive bodies with honey, pollen, and brood. These boxes will be left for the colony to use through the coming winter, instead of feeding them. This past week, I added yet another super to the hive. From this point on, newly added boxes will be exclusively “honey supers.” This means that any additional honey the bees produce can be harvested. We probably won’t get much this first year, but even a taste of honey from these hard working ladies is worth the effort. More importantly, we know that we have saved a colony of valuable pollinators!”

 

 

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SAHC’s Jay Leutze addresses NPCA Trustees

Nature Valley/National Parks Conservation Association/Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy work day volunteers on Grassy Ridge.

Nature Valley/National Parks Conservation Association/Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy work day volunteers on Grassy Ridge.

SAHC partner National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) held a board meeting for their national trustees in Asheville June 18-20th.  While in the area, the trustees visited the Blue Ridge Parkway, hiked into Shining Rock Wilderness,  and toured the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site.

They welcomed several guests, including Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent Mark Woods, Acting Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cindy MacLeod, and Carl Sandburg National Historic Site Superintendent Tyrone Brandyburg, to a dinner featuring a talk from SAHC Trustee Jay Leutze. Jay recounted the role NPCA played in protecting the Appalachian Trail from impacts of the Putnam Mine, a story detailed in his book Stand Up That Mountain.

Several SAHC members and former trustees were in attendance, including Charlie and Shirley Ann McCollough, and former Blue Ridge Parkway superintendent Phil Francis. NPCA has been a wonderful partner in helping to preserve the rich vitality of our mountain landscape. Over the past few years, we have been fortunate to receive grant funding from NPCA and Nature Valley’s “Preserve Our Parks” program to support habitat restoration and stewardship in the Highlands of Roan and at Cataloochee Ranch adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

 

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Today’s Our Birthday! June 10

Birthday

On this date in 1974, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy was officially incorporated as a non-profit land trust. So, it’s our ‘birthday!’ We are so excited to turn 40! — And looking back over the past four decades, we know we have a lot of living to celebrate. What are some of your favorite memories/experiences with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy?

In the spirit of celebration, our staff and AmeriCorps associates took a walk outside to say “Cheers to all of us!” We’re ‘toasting’ SAHC with some of that clean mountain water we work so hard to protect. Thanks to the passion and vision of our members, Trustees, friends, and followers over the years, we’ve been able to accomplish some incredible things. Here’s to 40 years of conservation, and many more to come!

SAHC 40th birthday staff pic

Categories: The People Behind SAHC | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Maney Fields – 100+ years in the family

Historic structure in the high-elevation pasture at Maney Fields

Historic structure in the high-elevation pasture

One of the most interesting things about working in land conservation is hearing stories about how people connect to the land. So often, we define ourselves by connection to place. Over generations, tracts of land become entwined in the history of a family. Staff at SAHC frequently hear statements like “I have this beautiful piece of land that’s been in my family for generations, and I don’t want to see it lost…” from landowners contacting our office, and it is truly gratifying when we see the protection of such tracts come to fruition.

When we accepted a donated conservation easement on Maney Fields, this 44-acre tract in Madison County where the corners of Madison, Buncombe, and Yancey converge — owned and treasured by one family for over 100 years — became permanently preserved.

“The Maney family is grateful to SAHC for all their efforts in preserving this very special place,” said landowner Diane Rosseter. “It is comforting to know that the beauty and uniqueness of the Maney Fields will be sustained and protected forever.”

View from Maney Fields, photo courtesy of Owen Carson from Equinox Environmental

View from Maney Fields, photo courtesy of Owen Carson from Equinox Environmental

Three headwater tributaries of Terry Fork, which flows into Paint Fork and then into Little Ivy Creek, originate on the property.  A high elevation wetland area on the property is located just below the 4,245 ft summit. The 360-degree view from the summit includes Barnardsville, Frosty Knob, Reems Creek, Sugar Creek, Rocky Face, Big Butte, Sandy Mush Bald, Roan Mountain, Craggy Dome, and Craggy Peak.

The Maney Fields tract is located near four other SAHC-protected properties and adjoins the Merschat Farm, a 118-acre farm under a conservation easement held by Buncombe County Soil & Water Conservation District.

“Sitting at the closing table with Diane and Rob Rosseter and Diane’s father Ed Maney brought to life the long family history on Maney Fields,” said Michelle Pugliese, Land Protection Director. “Three generations of Maneys have cared for this land, and the devotion of the family to preserve it filled the room that day.  I am delighted to have helped their family leave a legacy on this mountain that will last forever.”

This project was made possible by a generous donation of the value of the conservation easement from the landowner, as well as funds from Brad & Shelli Stanback and the Conservation Trust for North Carolina’s Money in the Ground mini-grant to cover transaction costs.

Personal Perspective — Caitlin Edenfield, Land Protection AmeriCorps Associate

Personal Perspective Caitlin Edenfield, SAHC's Land Protection AmeriCorps Associate

Personal Perspective Caitlin Edenfield, SAHC’s Land Protection AmeriCorps Associate

“As the AmeriCorps Land Protection Associate, I was able to work closely with landowners, Diane and Rob Rosseter to complete the Maney Fields conservation easement.

Diane and Rob were ideal landowners to work with because they were patient, flexible, and dedicated to the protection of their family land. I also helped facilitate many of the due diligence items such as the survey, appraisal, Phase 1 environmental site assessment, title work, legal review of the conservation easement.

Upon closing the conservation easement I felt an overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment, knowing that I helped preserve this land for perpetuity. I am grateful to be serving as an AmeriCorps member at SAHC and for the opportunity to be closely involved in the protection of our invaluable resources, like Maney Fields. My time with SAHC has influenced me to look for a full-time position with a land trust at the end of my term.”

AmeriCorps LogoOur Project Conserve AmeriCorps Associates form an important and integral part of our team. They give us the capacity to expand our land protection and stewardship program work, and in turn receive valuable experience for their careers.

 

 

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Appalachian Spring Celebration – 40th Anniversary!

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Thank you to all our sponsors and raffle donors!

Thank you to all our sponsors and raffle donors!

Thank you to all the friends, members, volunteers, donors, and event sponsors who made our Appalachian Spring 40th Anniversary event such a success! And we appreciate Fire Cracker Jazz Band for providing music for our event and to NC PhotoBox for a fun-filled photo booth experience for our guests. We’d also like to give a special ‘thank you’ to Nona Mia Italian Kitchen for preparing the delicious buffet dinner enjoyed by all, and for generously donating a huge portion of the catering expense.

We enjoyed a night of fun and fellowship, honoring our founding members and volunteers for an inspiring forty years of conservation successes. During the mid-evening program, SAHC Executive Director Carl Silverstein’s remarks gave us perspective and pride in SAHC’s accomplishments:

carl_onstage2

Carl Silverstein, SAHC Executive Director, recaps some of the highlights from our past 40 years.

“Our conservation mission is important:

  • So that people can have beautiful places like the Roan to hike, camp, fish or just enjoy being outdoors in nature.
  • So that communities can have clean water from streams and rivers that aren’t degraded with sediment and other pollutants that come with incompatible development.
  • So that wildlife and rare plants can have un-fragmented wild places to thrive in.
  • So that local farming can continue productively here in the mountains long into the future.

Because these needs are so crucial, and because there are aspects that would go unaddressed if we weren’t here undertaking to solve them, we at SAHC bring intense passion, bold innovation, and leadership on behalf of conservation. This has enabled us to protect a priceless Legacy of Place in the Southern Appalachians for future generations.

I want to share a few examples of how SAHC has brought passion, innovation, and leadership to our conservation mission:

Triple B Challenge hike

Highlands of Roan

1. Long-term, proactive, holistic conservation strategy. Our founder Stan Murray and his colleagues recognized that we are what stands between a future in which the Roan remains intact versus one in which it were lost to development.

Accordingly, our conservation efforts have always been proactive, not just waiting for opportunities to come to us. Our founders made maps showing specific contiguous parcels of land that needed to be secured in order to meaningfully protect the Roan, realizing that it might take half a century or longer of persistent, diligent work to achieve that vision. They planned and executed a continuing strategy to reach out to landowners, ask for the opportunity to work with them, and build relationships over the long haul.

SAHC didn’t undertake this work solo, but rather led a broad collaboration among partners including Federal and State agencies and other conservation organizations.

This is one of the preeminent models in America of a long-term conservation initiative, and it has paid off. Forty years later, we’ve protected tens of thousands of acres of the key properties identified at the beginning, and we’re still acquiring tracts identified as top priorities in that early planning.

Roan was our first geographic focus area, and remains our flagship project today because of its globally significant qualities.However, in the early 1990’s we expanded our focus to include other important areas like the Black Mountains, the Smokies, the Balsam Mountains, the French Broad basin including Sandy Mush, and the Appalachian Trail countryside.

Nature Valley/National Parks Conservation Association/Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy work day volunteers on Grassy Ridge.

Our volunteers and partners have been a crucial part of our stewardship efforts.

We’ve brought similar strategic planning, mapping of priorities, and proactive landowner outreach for these focus areas, and have protected tens of thousands of acres of contiguous high-priority lands there. Our holistic approach emphasizes stewardship of lands, not just acquisition.

Through our Roan Stewardship program, we lead a broad coalition of stakeholders in managing the globally significant grassy bald summits of the Roan, in order to ensure that this unique and fragile ecosystem continues to exist in the future. Volunteers contribute thousands of hours to this work every year.

Our program of monitoring and enforcing conservation easements is among the strongest in the country. Accreditation by the National Land Trust Accreditation Commission is a testament to the quality of our program.

Attendees listen the program remarks during dinner.

Attendees listen to the program remarks during dinner.

Our carefully planned long-term approach to conservation has earned us credibility with public and private partners, which have enabled us to accomplish dramatic outcomes few would have guessed possible: like protecting Grassy Ridge in the Roan and Rocky Fork on the AT, and we promise other amazing achievements like these in years to come.

2. Purchasing financially distressed properties for a bargain. When the real estate market crashed in 2008, we recognized the opportunity to secure some of the most important lands in the mountains, which had been slated for development.

We purchased a dozen high-priority financially distressed properties since then at incredibly bargain-basement prices through foreclosure auctions, bankruptcies, short sales and other non-traditional avenues.

This entailed risk, courage and fortitude of SAHC, as well as educating ourselves in real estate financing legal processes that were new to us. We became nationally recognized experts in these processes, and have taught multiple workshops at national Land Trust Alliance Rallies to help our peers gain skills in this area.

SAHC's Community Farm

SAHC’s Community Farm

3. Farmland Access Service to ensure future of productive farms in the Southern Appalachians.

Since 2005, SAHC has been committed to implementing ambitious programs to ensure access to farmland in our region. This ranges from conservation easement purchases that permanently protect farms while injecting much-needed capital into family farming operations to creating a new farmer incubator at the SAHC Community Farm about 20 minutes from downtown Asheville. Aspiring farmers can lease land and use equipment at the Community Farm for a three to five-year term, before they venture out to lease or purchase farmland of their own.

You are part of one of the most special, high-achieving conservation organizations in the country. Together we’ve protected a network of some the most scenic outdoor destinations, pristine watersheds, significant wildlife and plant habitat, and vibrant family farms in the country.”

Buddy Tignor presents the Stanley A. Murray Award for Volunteer Services.

Buddy Tignor presents the Stanley A. Murray Award for Volunteer Services.

SAHC President Buddy Tignor awarded the 2014 Stanley A. Murray Award for Volunteer Services. In 1989, this award was created to honor persons who have made outstanding volunteer contributions to the work of SAHC, emulating the lifelong dedication of our founder, Stanley A. Murray.

Our Stanley A. Murray Award for Volunteer Services this year went to a father & son team — David Smith and his son Otto. David was introduced to SAHC as the Seasonal Ecologist in 1997 and since then has been a volunteer leader in many different capacities.

David and Otto Smith

David and Otto Smith

For the past 17 years, David has participated in the annual Grassy Ridge Mow-Off and led guided hikes at the annual June Jamboree. David’s son Otto has recently joined him in volunteer adventures in the Roan. For the past three years Otto has worked along side David at the Mow-Off, lopping and pulling brush to help conserve this globally imperiled habitat. Congratulations to David and Otto!

Retiring SAHC Trustee and former President of the Board, Jeanette Blazier, being recognized for her service.

Retiring SAHC Trustee and former President of the Board, Jeanette Blazier, being recognized for her service.

As part of the mid-evening program, we also recognized our retiring Trustees, Jeanette Blazier and Bruce Cunningham. Jeanette served as Board of Trustees President and chaired the Governance Committee; worked tirelessly to cultivate, recruit & orient outstanding Trustees; and was instrumental in SAHC strategic planning. Bruce served as Treasurer and on the Finance Committee; led development of SAHC Investment Policy and investing decisions; and was also instrumental in SAHC strategic planning. Thank you both for your service!

We elected two Trustees, Rick Manske and Laura McCue, to each serve a new term 3-year term on the SAHC Board. Rick and his wife Rebecca live in Weaverville and have been generous supporters of SAHC for several years. Rick serves as managing partner of Parsec Financial, a wealth management firm in Asheville that works with SAHC and has generously supported our efforts. Rick is enthusiastic about SAHC’s land conservation and stewardship mission, and will bring valuable finance talent to our board. Laura has served previously as a Trustee from 2003 – 09, including terms as Secretary and Treasurer. She brings SAHC expertise in finance and investing; strong personal ties among our membership and donors; and bountiful enthusiasm for hard work on SAHC’s behalf. She has advanced our strategy for long-term investing and endowments and continued to serve on our Finance Committee. Laura is President of White Oak Financial Management, Inc.

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Attendees recognized former Volunteers of the Year and elected Trustees.

Four Trustees — Bill Lowndes, Kathy Singleton, Courtney Blossman and Jack Hamilton — were each elected to serve a consecutive term. Bill first served on the SAHC board in the 1970s and was SAHC’s 2nd Treasurer. He has been a key leader in our institutional and programmatic growth over the years, and currently serves on SAHC’s Human Resources Committee. Kathy lives in Kingsport, TN and is an attorney with Wilson, Worley, Moore, Gamble & Stout law firm. She has a long-standing love of the Roan and currently serves on SAHC’s Membership Committee and Development & Engagement Committee. Courtney began serving as an SAHC Trustee after relocating to Asheville from coastal Mississippi. She currently serves on SAHC’s Development & Engagement Committee as well as our Facility Evaluation Task Force. Jack currently serves as SAHC’s Treasurer and advises on our Facility Evaluation Task Force. He is a corporate and tax attorney at Roberts & Stevens law firm, Asheville.

Thank you for your support!

Thank you for your support!

Thank you to all who serve our community through your volunteer work or conservation support with SAHC!

And, if you haven’t already, we invite you to:

  •  Become a member.
  •  Tell your friends about us.
  •  Join us on an outing.
  •  Volunteer for a work day.
  •  Serve on a committee
  •  Include SAHC in your estate planning.

Your involvement makes it happen!

2014 member event program_sponsors

 

Categories: Special Events | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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