Just last week the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) closed on the purchase of a 60-acre tract in the Plott Balsam mountains, just north of Sylva in Jackson County. The Plott Balsam mountain range looms over Sylva and Waynesville in beautiful western North Carolina. These mountains are within SAHC’s Smoky Mountains focus area and the addition of this property contributes significantly to SAHC’s protection goals.
Located within the Yellow Face/Blackrock Mountain State Natural Heritage Area as well as the Plott Balsams Important Bird Area, the property has significant conservation values and adds to the connectivity of protected lands in the area. It adjoins the Nature Conservancy’s 1,595-acre Plott Balsam Preserve and is very near to the Sylva watershed park, which is protected by a conservation easement and connected to the watershed by trails maintained by Western Carolina University students.
With elevations climbing to 5,600 feet, the property is home to species that cannot survive at lower elevations such as the flying squirrel and verdant Spruce Fir forests. Adding to the ecological significance of the property is its cultural heritage significance. The Cherokee consider the ridges surrounding Waterrock knob, which the property is close to, sacred sites. There are not roads or other human infrastructure on the property, making it truly preserved forever.
The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy thanks the people and organizations that continue to actively make conservation of our mountain home a priority by donating funds, resources, time, and love to our organization. Without you our accomplishments wouldn’t be possible! To learn more about SAHC or to donate, go to www.appalachian.org.