The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) 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.
Spear Tops was on the cusp of being developed as roads had been built and plans to transform the pristine land into a gated community were coming into fruition. Leutze points out that it was so close to being developed, “that we thought we’d lost it.” The economy took a turn for the worse in 2008 and the property went into foreclosure. Obtaining Spear Tops was a complicated process and there were other interests who eagerly pursued the property as well. SAHC acted swiftly in a small window of time and was fortunately able to acquire Spear Tops, and outbid competitors for the title.
The peak of Spear Tops lies close to Yellow Mountain and is clearly visible from Big Yellow Mountain. The property offers an incredible range of biodiversity and is visible to the public from the Appalachian Trail, Overmountain Victory Trail, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Highway 19 E. Aside from its scenic value, Spear Tops will play an important role in protecting the prospering trout streams that flow into the North Toe River. The fish will not be the only animals protected within the property as Spear Tops has also been marked by the Audubon Society as an “Important Bird Area”.
SAHC’s executive director, Carl Silverstein points out that, “although acquiring Spear Tops was a complicated, stressful, and trying process at times, the end result is a remarkable conservation success story and we are thankful that the property will remain untarnished.”
“SAHC is literally changing the map in the Southern Appalachian mountains, and Spear Tops is another piece of the puzzle that’s finally been put into place,” concludes Leutze.