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 haley@appalachian.org 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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SAHC at Asheville City Preschool’s Tree Festival

img_54761 Last week, two of our Americorps members, Travis Bordley and Haley Smith, participated in Asheville City Preschool’s Tree Festival. This festival, put on for Asheville City Preschool students and their families, consisted of an assortment of educational and fun activities: everything from a pile of leaves to jump in and a tree swing to a wildlife demonstration in the gym.

img_5486Travis and Haley set up a table where kids could examine leaves under a hand lens or microscope and make leaf art. They also helped kids decorate a banner with a landscape on it to be hung up in the school afterwards. While decorating this banner, kids talked about art and outdoor activities that they enjoy, giving them a chance to be creative and discuss nature in a safe and fun environment.

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Vote for us to win $10,000 for conservation!

Land is My Gateway
Our AmeriCorps Roan Highlands Volunteer & Outreach member, Travis Bordley, has put together a FANTASTIC video about the meaning of our mountains —“Land is My Gateway.” 
Please check it out with the link below, and please vote for his video in the Land Trust Alliance video contest for a chance that SAHC could win $10,000 for our conservation work!! 
Each person can vote for ONE video PER DAY, so save this link and keep voting to help us win. And, please help us spread the word. This is a wonderful, and fun, opportunity to get people involved in conservation and help fund the continued protection of these magnificent mountains!
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Rising Conservation Leader

hanni2016 NC Land Trust Assembly Rising Conservation Leader of the Year: Hanni Muerdter

At the 2016 Land Trust Assembly in Raleigh in May, North Carolina’s 24 local land trusts announced annual awards for five conservation leaders, including our Stewardship and Conservation Planning Director, Hanni Muerdter!

Hanni started her career as a Project Conserve AmeriCorps Member in western North Carolina and continued her career by joining the staff at SAHC. She has made an impact in her current position by strengthening our land and easement stewardship program through the creation of modern policies and procedures that will ensure our easements will last.

Hanni is chair of the Blue Ridge Forever Conservation Committee; she has served in this role since 2010.  She leads development of meeting agendas and facilitates knowledge-sharing among land protection and stewardship staff of 10 land trusts in WNC, which in turn enhances the capacity of these organizations to respond to an ever-changing conservation landscape.  As Committee Chair she led the development of Blue Ridge Forever’s region-wide conservation vision with discreet
focus areas, and is currently updating that tool as the coalition moves into its second decade.  

hannimonitoringHanni’s dedication and approach to conservation are inspiring.  She regularly takes on responsibilities well beyond expectations, manages her ever-more-complex workload with calm focus, and approaches every interaction with empathy.  Inspiring, understanding, hard-working, and forward-thinking – these are all characteristics of a good leader, and Hanni embodies each,” said Jessica Laggis, Director of Blue Ridge Forever.  

Hanni is an active member in the Asheville community. She is the past Chair of the Board of Directors of Jubilee Community Church. Under her leadership and organizational skills the church was able to create a more formal framework, which will guide the church into the future. She is also an accomplished actress in the local theater.

Congratulations, Hanni!

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Big Rock Creek Donation

bigrockcreekmapInspired by our conservation work in the Highlands of Roan, landowner Ken Davis recently donated 47 acres to SAHC. The property adjoins Pisgah National Forest and our Big Rock Creek preserve, which we purchased in 2014, thus filling an important gap in the protected landscape.

Visible from the Appalachian Trail, the tract contains important forest habitat and headwater resources. Forest types include Appalachian hemlock hardwood forest, Appalachian oak forest, and southern Appalachian montane pine forest. The property contains a portion of Dave Branch stream and a headwater stream for Big Rock Creek, which flows into the North Toe River. These waterways are designated Wild Trout Streams by the NC Division of Water Quality.

Fred and Alice Stanback made a generous gift to support transaction costs and long-term stewardship of the donated land. We plan to own and manage the property as a preserve for the long term.

Landowner Perspective: Ken Davis

kendavisKen Davis bought this property in 1991 after several years of service as a park ranger. He and his wife settled in the area to teach at Lees-McCrae College. His motivation in purchasing the property was driven by a love of parks, and the couple have worked to reestablish native species on the property to allow it to return to its natural state.

“I decided to donate the land because SAHC represents a trans-generational effort by courageous people who love the land as much as I do and use the best conservation science they can muster to arrest the destruction of magnificent places of refuge,” says Ken.

“As has been illustrated many times in history, wilderness has been a most effective refuge. Though some of the land in this area of the Southern Appalachians is suitable for farming and other activities, I believe the best use for much of it is what it once was — wilderness. Due to the loss of many species, such as the chestnut, it can never be exactly the same, but some of it can become once more a sublime refuge. When asked what the steep, “unbuildable” land is good for, I often reply that it is good for ‘howling wilderness.’

I hope that our donation will provide a one-inch increment of the thousand-mile journey to return to wilderness in the Southern Appalachians. “        

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Big Yellow Mountain

This acquisition continues our conservation efforts in the stunning Roaring Creek Valley area, near Big Yellow Mountain and Little Hump Mountain. Photo courtesy Southwings.

This acquisition continues our conservation efforts in the stunning Roaring Creek Valley area, near Big Yellow Mountain and Little Hump Mountain. Photo courtesy Southwings.

We purchased 70 acres on Big Yellow Mountain in the Highlands of Roan, located just 2,500 ft from the Appalachian Trail. Adjoining Pisgah National Forest, conservation lands held by the State of NC, and other SAHC-protected properties, the forested high-elevation tract is visible from the Overmountain Shelter on the AT.

“This acquisition was a high conservation priority because of the property’s location on the biologically sensitive and stunning scenic slopes of Big Yellow Mountain near the Appalachian Trail,” said Land Protection Director Michelle Pugliese.  “It was the highest elevation, privately-owned unprotected tract between Grassy Ridge and Bradley Gap.”

The property contains forest habitat and boulder fields with seeps and springs that feed into Roaring Creek.

The property contains forest habitat and boulder fields with seeps and springs that feed into Roaring Creek.

Elevations on the property range from 4,440 feet to 5,380 feet above msl.

It contains rare beech gap forest and high elevation boulder fields with seeps and springs that form headwater tributaries of Roaring Creek. The entire property is within the state-designated Big Yellow Mountain Natural Area and the Audubon Society’s Roan Mountain Important Bird Area. Nesting Golden-winged Warblers have been identified in areas surrounding the tract.

In addition to protecting high elevation habitat and clean water sources, this acquisition helps preserve the sense of solitude for hikers and backpackers in the Roan.

bigyellowmap“The tract is very visible from the Overmountain Shelter on the AT,” continued Pugliese. “This 2-story, red barn shelter is one of the most iconic and beloved of all the shelters along the Trail, and it would have been devastating to hikers’ experiences if homes were built on this land. Now that SAHC has purchased these acres, that will never happen.”

We are deeply grateful to Fred and Alice Stanback for making a generous contribution which made this acquisition possible.

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Cold Mountain – 162 Acres Protected!

Cold Mtn Vicinity_Topo_DixCreek landscape On Friday, June 17, we purchased a 162-acre tract of land on the northwestern slope of Cold Mountain, in the Dix Creek watershed. The Haywood County tract contains an exceptional variety of forest communities and potential habitat for rare species.


The tract is heavily wooded, with an exceptional variety of forest communities.

“Lying on the northwestern slopes of the iconic Cold Mountain, this property adds to a network of public lands that includes Pisgah National Forest, Shining Rock Wilderness and the Cold Mountain Game Lands, as well as being in close proximity to Lake Logan,” said Michelle Pugliese, SAHC Land Protection Director. “It is a region that exemplifies both the beauty and ecological significance of our mountain lands. SAHC is proud to be a part of expanding the area’s protected landscape.”

The recently purchased, high elevation property adjoins the Cold Mountain Games Lands to the southwest and shares a 1.2-mile boundary with Pisgah National Forest on the east side. The property is approximately one half mile from the Panther Branch Cove Natural Area and the Shining Rock Wilderness Natural Area, and is located within the Audubon Society’s Great Balsam Mountains Important Bird Area. Elevations on the tract range from 3,900 to 5,540 feet above msl.

“We are deeply grateful to Fred and Alice Stanback for making a generous contribution which made this acquisition possible,” said SAHC Executive Director Carl Silverstein.

Southern Pygmy Salamander, photo by Chris Wilson, Conservation Ecology LLC

Southern Pygmy Salamander, photo by Chris Wilson, Conservation Ecology LLC

The previous owner completed a Biodiversity Conservation Values Assessment on the property, which found the tract to contain nine natural communities, including three globally imperiled natural community types: Carolina Hemlock Forest (a highly threatened habitat), High Elevation Red Oak Forest, and Pine-Oak Heath. The site also contains rare high elevation boulderfield forest and three significantly rare plants: Kelsy’s locust, Trailing Wolfsbane, and Northern Lady Fern. Wildlife found on the property include: the State-listed Brown Creeper, Timber Rattlesnake, Southern Pygmy Salamander, and Appalachian Cottontail, as well as the watchlist species Common Raven, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Winter Wren. Biologists completing the report also found excellent potential for several other state endangered species.

Timber Rattlesnake, photo by Chris Wilson, Conservation Ecology LLC

Timber Rattlesnake, photo by Chris Wilson, Conservation Ecology LLC

“The high quality of native habitat, pristine creeks and wide variety of dominant tree species make this tract exceptional,” said Pugliese. “The fact that it contains almost six acres of hemlock forest is particularly exciting because these special forests are rapidly declining due to disease.”

There are eight tributaries that flow through the property, including the main branch of Dix Creek, which flows into the East Fork Pigeon River. The NC Division of Water Resources has classified the waters of Dix Creek as Trout Waters (freshwaters which have conditions that sustain and allow for trout propagation and survival of stocked trout on a year-round basis). Conservation of the tract will protect aquatic habitat, including waters for trout fishing, downstream.

“Preserving headwater streams has the greatest impact on protecting water quality downstream,” added Pugliese.

SAHC intends to own the tract in the short term and transfer it to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) by 2017 to be added to the Cold Mountain Game Lands, at which time it will become open to the public.

“This is a great example of how we work in partnership with other entities, being able to step in and provide short-term ownership for a priority tract until the state is able to receive funding to purchase it,” said Pugliese.

In the vicinity, SAHC has helped protect almost 9,000 acres. We hold conservation easements on approximately 800 acres on Crawford Creek on the east side of Cold Mountain and the 8,000-acre Waynesville Watershed (co-held with the Conservation Trust for NC). We have also assisted the NCWRC in protecting land for the state-owned Cold Mountain Game Lands.




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Upcoming SAHC Community Farm Events

Have you visited our Community Farm in Alexander, NC? We have THREE great opportunities coming up in the next couple of weeks!

LTDhikeLand Trust Day Hike
Date: Saturday, June 4

Time: 10 am
Difficulty: Easy (2)
Cost: Free for SAHC members; $10 for non-members. Pre-registration is required

Join us for a moderately easy, family-friendly guided tour along the Discovery Trail at the SAHC Community Farm in Alexander. Along the way, you will learn about the various projects under way at the farm, including our Farmer Incubator Program. We will walk through active farming areas, see the successfully restored streams flowing through the property, discuss our shortleaf pine restoration project, and give you a preview of our newly renovated education facility. We will accomplish all of this in plenty of time for you to return to town to shop and enjoy lunch at one of the businesses participating in Land Trust Day.

Optional: You may bring a lunch and blanket or camp chairs and enjoy a picnic on the farm following the hike.

For more info or to register, contact Haley Smith at 828.253.0095 ext. 205 or haley@appalachian.org. Directions and additional details will be provided after registration.

Farm_tractorCommunity Farm Workshop: Protecting Your Biggest Asset on the Farm, Your Body
SAHC Community Farm, Alexander, NC
Date: Sunday, June 5
Time: 2 – 4 pm
Cost: Sliding scale $10 – $20 at the door

Presented by SAHC in partnership with Jamie Davis of A Way of Life Farm. During this workshop you will learn the most beneficial & efficient ways to move while performing various tasks on and off the farm to prevent injury and keep your body pain-free. We will cover manual task and machine task movement while thinking about how we use different body parts like the neck, shoulders, knees, back and wrists. All are welcome; this information is relevant to anyone who gets out of bed in the morning!

To register to attend, email Chris Link at chris@appalachian.org.

About the co-presenter: Jamie and Sara Jane Davis started A Way of Life Farm in January 2009 in Bostic, NC where they grow 2 acres of organic vegetables and raise organically fed non-gmo pork. Due to an injury earlier in his life Jamie found that attention to body movement and a daily practice of yoga on the farm was the way to sustain his work.

Learn more at http:// www.awayoflifefarm.com/ A_Way_of_Life_Farm/ Home.html

cattle Community Farm Workshop: Pasture Walk – Invasive Plant ID, Control and Removal
SAHC Community Farm, Alexander, NC
Date: Thursday, June 9
Time: 5 – 6:30 pm
Cost: Free

Presented by SAHC in partnership with NC Cooperative Extension . During this workshop we will take a walk through the SAHC Community Farm pastures.  We will identify invasive species and discuss control methods, desirable and undesirable forages, soil testing and overall pasture health.  This will be a Q & A walk-about so everyone is welcome to bring their questions!  If you own and or manage land this will be a worthwhile and informative workshop.

To register to attend, email Chris Link at chris@appalachian.org.

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