Moody Knob – Quiet Cove with Devoted Stewards

Jack in the pulpit.

Jack in the pulpit.

This lovely 63-acre cove is located in Madison County, on the ridgeline that is the border with Buncombe County. It lies near other properties that we have protected in a relatively unfragmented corridor between the Black Mountains and the Tennessee line.

The tract is a north-facing rich cove with large hardwood trees, a diverse herbaceous layer, and multiple seeps and springs. Headwaters originating on the property flow into Terry Fork, a tributary of Ivy Creek that meets the French Broad River just south of Marshall.  An botanist’s inventory conducted noted 158 plant species, and the property is one ridge over from the Black and Craggy Audubon Important Bird Area.

White-spotted slimy salamander on the Moody Knob tract.

White-spotted slimy salamander at Moody Knob.

Owning a special property heightens your personal connection with the land. This intense connection led landowners Hershella Smith and Jay Gleason to donate a conservation easement on their beloved Moody Knob property. With a true sense of commitment to stewardship, the landowners generously donated the entire value of this conservation easement and all transaction costs to make this project possible.

Moody Knob: A Landowner Perspective

by Hershella Smith

“For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to purchase a great piece of land and build a house. By the time I found the right tract of land in 1996 and arranged financing to purchase it, I had grown to believe that being a good steward of the land was as important as being a land owner. So my commitment when I purchased the Moody Knob property was to ensure that it would never be developed or logged.

Hershella Smith shows SAHC Land Protection Director Michelle Pugliese around Moody Knob.

Hershella Smith shows SAHC Land Protection Director Michelle Pugliese around Moody Knob.

I wanted to wait until I had paid off the loan to place the conservation easement. Meanwhile, I got to know the land that I had initially fallen in love with – where I would find the biggest trillium in the spring, what color the hickory leaves turned in the fall, which patches of ground kept snow the longest. I learned a lot — not the least of which was how challenging it sometimes was to keep the interests of the land above my own.

Now, with the loan paid and married to a man who shares my love for the land, I am intensely pleased that we are able to put the land into conservation. I feel a huge sense of gratitude toward SAHC, a sense of accomplishment in finally honoring a commitment made many years ago, and a sense of relief and joy in knowing that our land isn’t just  ‘our’ land any longer. It belongs to itself.”

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