Blue Hill Essentials Fundraiser for SAHC

bluehillBlue Hill Essentials will donate 15% of online sales Thursday, Dec. 8 through Saturday, Dec. 10 to the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.

“Just one drop of essential oil on the back of our handmade ceramic diffuser pendants provides all-day aromatherapy. Each piece is kiln-fired for optimum durability and absorbency and comes with an adjustable cord necklace and a vial of pure lavender oil. We also sell a selection of 100% pure, carefully sourced essential oils from native habitats around the world. Our oils have been laboratory tested to ensure they are pure, natural, and undiluted.”

Their locally-crafted essential oil diffusers are wearable art! Plus, they have added a new birds’ nest essential oil diffuser for the holidays.

For more info, or to SHOP to support conservation, visit

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Project POWER at Our Community Farm

dsc08840A cold morning brightened up on November 18th just in time to indulge a large group of AmeriCorps members on a tour of our Community Farm. Chris Link, SAHC’s Community Farm Manager, and Travis Bordley, our Roan Volunteer Outreach Associate, hosted 26 AmeriCorps members from Project POWER, which stands for “Putting Opportunity Within Everyone’s Reach.”


Project POWER is a local division of the national AmeriCorps program. Members of Project POWER work exclusively in Buncombe Country and with at-risk youth in schools, non-profits and faith biased organizations. SAHC and Project POWER have been fostering a relationship to connect people with the environment and outdoor experiences on conservation properties.


dsc08817“The current group of AmeriCorps members with Project Power is a really special team,” said Travis. “They all are incredibly positive individuals with a passion for what they do. We think our resources at the farm can help to serve them and bolster our relationship with youth in the community.”


Chris capitalized on the warm weather and eager spirit of the AmeriCorps members. He led everyone on an in-depth tour of the Community Farm, guiding the group to check out goats doing invasive kudzu management, productive greenhouses growing fresh veggies, and a successful stream-bank restoration project. The tour wrapped up in our new Education Center, where the group had ample space to host their bi-weekly meeting.


dsc08832Seventeen of the 26 visitors signed up with Travis after the tour in hopes to return to the farm with their children, and four members were also interested in doing environmental education programming on other SAHC properties. The beautiful weather really seemed to compliment a great relationship that is growing between SAHC and Project POWER!
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Mind Over Matter = Volunteer Work Day

dsc08841The phrase, “Mind over matter”, was put to the test when the UNC-Asheville Mindfulness club volunteered for a day with SAHC. Travis Bordley, our new Americorps Roan Outreach Associate, hosted 4 members of club and volunteers Saylor Fox and Bettye Boone for a trash clean-up day on a conservation property in the Highlands of Roan. The tract is located in just below Carver’s Gap on the North Carolina side of the ridge, and people pulling off to the side of Highway 261 have thrown empty bottles, trash bags, and tires onto it. Travis and his brave volunteer group came in to remedy the situation.
On Saturday, November 19th the mid-day temperature reached just 20 degrees and winds were blowing gusts up to 50 mph. This was no deterrent for the trash clean-up crew, who removed bags of garbage to protect important stream headwaters. Our guests from UNC-Asheville were delighted to spend time in the Roan and our longtime volunteers, Saylor and Bettye, offered up their home to allow everyone to eat lunch protected from the brutally cold wind.
dsc08850After lunch the crew decided to carry on with the days itinerary and go for a hike up Round Bald. Starting from about 1,000 below the summit, the mountain was consumed in a cloud of blowing ice. The view looked like the inside of a ping pong ball. The group struggled to maintain footing against the wind, fueled by the wonder of the Roan. Everyone was amazed by the arctic conditions that existed only at this elevation. At the top the group took its time rolling in the snow and taking pictures of the ice caked landscape. The Mindfulness Club, Saylor, Bettye, and Travis all took turns doing solo-hikes down from the summit.
We are very proud of our volunteers for facing an early winter and taking care of our natural resources!
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146-acre Little Creek Headwaters Property — Protected!

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Tributary of Little Creek, photo by Owen Carson of Equinox Environmental.

Today we purchased 146 acres in Bald Creek Valley in the Crabtree Community of Haywood County — a beautiful, forested cove with streams running through it, now conserved for future generations.

“This high-elevation, relatively untouched forest — once slated for development — will now be permanently protected,” said Land Protection Director Michelle Pugliese. “I’m so excited to have worked on protecting this land in Bald Creek Valley, one of the most beautiful rural valleys in the area. It’s just stunning!”

Little Creek Headwaters was a high conservation priority because it is a large tract that expands the growing network of lands protected by SAHC in Haywood County, adjacent to Sandy Mush. Once marked for the second phase development of a gated community, the tract rises to 4,280 ft in elevation and contains a variety of microclimates. The headwaters of Little Creek, which flows into Bald Creek, originate on the property.

The land is entirely forested — predominantly Appalachian oak forest with small areas of cove forest and hemlock forest. Little to no evidence of invasive species has been observed — making it a “gem” in the area.

“This property is remarkably free from the slow creep of invasive species that has become more common throughout the region,” added Pugliese. “It is a new anchor of protected land that SAHC is actively working to expand in this area.”

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Bedrock/boulder outcrop on the property, photo by Owen Carson of Equinox Environmental.

There is a wide range of elevations on the property, one of the factors that contributes to resiliency for climate change. It ranks “above average” for climate change resiliency with the Open Space Institute’s Southern Blue Ridge Focus Area.

“I’m extremely proud of the completion of this project,” said Executive Director Carl Silverstein. “We are grateful to Brad and Shelli Stanback for making a donation to SAHC to acquire this significant swath of forested land for conservation.”

We plan to own and manage the property as a preserve for the long term, and explore potential future use for our outreach program.

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We are thankful for our volunteers!

fbra4This month,  twelve 7th grade boys from the French Broad River Academy (FBRA) volunteered at our Community Farm. We are grateful for assistance from these positive, hard-working students! Service learning is a vital piece of the FBRA curriculum, and they partner with us several times a year to help out with various projects at the Community Farm.

Last week, we had a challenge for the student volunteers: we needed to re-grade an erosion-prone section of the Discovery Trail and build a retaining wall on the up-slope side. The boys got to work right away, with half of them using tools to carve out a small wall and re-grade the dirt along the trail. The other half teamed up to carry logs for the wall as our farm manager, Chris, felled and bucked a few already-dead trees on the property.

fbra8Once the digging and grading were mostly done, the boys began to take turns setting logs in place along the wall, and using a post-driver and hammer to drive in rebar to hold the logs. Others helped back-fill the top of the wall with the dirt they had removed earlier.

In the end, they completed the entire sensitive area–roughly 60 feet of trail — and had a beautiful retaining wall to be proud of. This was a labor-intensive project, but the boys worked hard and got the job done. The wall will help mitigate erosion of the trail within the stream restoration area, minimizing sedimentation of a stream whose water eventually flows into the French Broad River.

The boys do clean-ups and learn paddling skills throughout the year on the French Broad, so they were able to see how a project like this can directly affect water quality and their experiences down-stream.

Thanks so much for your hard work, FBRA boys—we look forward to working with you guys again!

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We are thankful for beautiful places to hike, and for our conservation-minded landowners!

webb-lakeOn Saturday, November 12th, we hosted a hike on our lovely 600-acre Webb Conservation Easement near Panthertown Valley in Jackson County. This beautiful property is bounded on the north side by Cedar Creek, a high quality tributary flowing into Webb Lake, which provides habitat for native brook trout. All water on the property eventually drains into the West Fork of the Tuckaseegee River, and on into the Little Tennessee River.

On the day of the hike, we were met at the property by members of the Webb family who own the property – Billy, Jimmy, and Jean Webb, as well as Julia Gaskin. The family introduced themselves briefly, and Billy, Jimmy, and Julia accompanied us on the hike.laurel-tunnel-over-trail

The route followed about 3 miles of well-established trails in a loop around nearly half of the 600-acre property. The trails led us through primarily acidic cove forest, under rhododendron tunnels and through laurel archways. The group stopped for lunch on “Laura’s Rock,” a granite rock outcrop at nearly 4000’ in elevation, with scenic views to the south and west. Even with some haze from the many wildfires burning in the area, we could see as far as Yellow Mountain, about 5.3 miles away as the crow flies.

When we returned to the family cabin where we began the hike, other members of the family had joined Jean and were waiting for us with crisp fall cider and cookies following our adventure.

group-with-viewWhile we ate our refreshments, just as during the hike, we all had a chance to talk to the family about their memories and experiences on the property, and their knowledge of some of the flora and fauna there.

This stunning property continues to be a staff favorite. Lisa, our Finance Director, said “I want to come on this hike every time we do it from now on! Every step of the way has been the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen.”

We are so thankful to the Webb family for allowing us to do a hike on their property, and we look forward to the next time!

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Farming In the Shadow of Crabtree Bald

kirkpatrickThis month we protected 32 acres of farmland in the shadow of Crabtree Bald in Haywood County. Located along Rush Fork Creek and adjacent to NC Scenic Byway 209, the farm contains prime agricultural soils and has been in the same family since the late 1700s.

Currently used for cattle grazing, the land has been used for various crops over the years, including tomatoes, corn and hay. It is now permanently protected for agricultural use under conservation easement with SAHC. Fertile soils on the property include prime farmland (Saunook loam), soils of statewide importance and of local importance.

“We appreciate the landowner’s commitment to improving water quality by using agricultural best management practices,” said Hanni Muerdter, SAHC’s Stewardship and Conservation Planning Director. “Fencing livestock out of Rush Fork Creek and providing alternative water sources protects water quality downstream.”

Conservation of this tract helps protect tributary streams of the Pigeon Watershed from sources of sedimentation and other types of pollutionRush Fork Creek flows across the farm into Crabtree Creek, in the Pigeon River watershed.

Psignrotection of the farm also adds to a significant protected landscape within the Newfound Mountains and preserves pastoral views along Rush Fork Road (also known as The Appalachian Medley), a rural NC scenic highway.  The property adjoins a 625-acre NC Farmland Preservation Trust Fund Easement property, held by the NC Department of Agriculture. The vast connectivity of all farmland and forested land in the general vicinity of the property is important for agricultural viability of the region as well as plant and animal diversity.

We are grateful for funding from the NC Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund and Brad and Shelli Stanback for making this farmland conservation work possible.

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Have you met our new Trustees?

We have three new members to the SAHC Board of Trustees. Welcome!

Popsie Lynch, Fairview, NC

Popsie is a Gray’s Lily Leadership Circle member and has shared her enthuspopsie-lynchiasm about SAHC by hosting a porch party at her home this spring.. She lives in Fairview on land that she placed under conservation easement with SAHC in 2015. Her property is part of an assemblage of adjoining conservation easements that stitch together and protect farmland that her grandfather used to own. Popsie is also a leader in the French Broad River Garden Club.

Matt Moses, Erwin, TN

mattmosesMatt is President and CEO of USA Raft, one of our Corporate Partners. He lives part-time in Johnson City and part-time in Greensboro NC. He and USA Raft have generously helped us in connection with our Lost Cove property, including a raft-out-the trash volunteer cleanup. Matt’s business depends on protected public land and rivers, and he has accompanied Jay to DC to advocate with Congress on behalf of the federal Land & Water Conservation Fund.

sturymanStu Ryman, Asheville, NC

Stu is one of the founders and the principal partner in Altamont Environmental. Stu and his wife Nancy live in Fairview and are longtime generous supporters. Stu played a leading role in assisting us with the successful stream restoration mitigation bank project we undertook at the Community Farm. He is an avid fisherman and outdoorsman who is deeply committed to conservation.

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Garrett Cove – 101 Acres Protected

The western ridge of the property overlooks Crabtree Bald in Haywood County.

The western ridge of the property overlooks Crabtree Bald in Haywood County.

We purchased 101 acres in Garrett Cove, filling a gap in the network of more than 10,000 acres SAHC has protected in the vicinity of Sandy Mush. Settled by the Garrett family over 150 years ago, the cove is part of the cultural legacy of rugged and self-reliant individuals who homesteaded in the Newfound Mountains of the Southern Appalachians.

Located near the Buncombe/Haywood County border, this tract has been a conservation priority in Sandy Mush for several years. It adjoins three other SAHC-protected properties, and our purchasing and owning it adds to the network of protected conservation land in this historic farming community.

Six headwater streams originate on the property and flow into Sandy Mush Creek (classified as Trout waters by the NC Division of Water Resources). The tract contains Appalachian oak forest, as well as some notable rock outcrops that include a cave site. Elevations rising to 4,400 ft provide beautiful views into Haywood County and Crabtree Bald.

Vance Garrett

Vance Garrett

SAHC is proud to have purchased the Garrett Cove tract from Vance Garrett. Vance is a Sandy Mush landowner, naturalist, and local historian. His grandfather purchased the property over 100 years ago, and since then his family has used it for cattle grazing and enjoyment of nature. Vance is pleased that SAHC will protect this lovely piece of his family’s legacy in perpetuity.

Portions of the tract are currently used for cattle grazing through a license agreement with a neighboring landowner. We are working with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to complete a Conservation Plan for the property, which includes providing alternate water sources for the cattle to help restore water quality onsite and downstream.

We plan to own and manage the property as a preserve for the long-term. “We thank Brad and Shelli Stanback for their generous donation to SAHC, which made this important acquisition possible,” said Executive Director Carl Silverstein.

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Bookwalter Binge Raffle Results

20161029_152921Claim your Raffle Items from the Bookwalter Binge!

If you were not present for the drawing on Saturday, here are the items that have yet to be claimed with the winning ticket numbers:

  • #2: Colavita “Tastes of Italy” Basket with 1.5 L 2015 ZD Wines Chardonnay (Winner: #837607)
  • #9-12: 1 hr Omnium Body Works Session with Polar Water Bottle (Winners: #s 837499, 837047, 605987, 837046)
  • #17: Rocktape Bundle #2 (Winner: #605370)
  • #28: Oakley Jawbreaker Lenses (Winner: #837730)
  • #37: BMC SportElite Kid’s Bike (Winner: #837007)
  • #39: Liberty Bikes Bundle (Winner: #837650)

If you won, save your ticket and contact Haley Smith at or 828.253.0095 ext 205 to claim your prize.

Thank you so much for coming out on Saturday for this event benefitting SAHC! Whether you were riding, volunteering, or spectating, we are so grateful for your participation and your support of our conservation efforts.

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