Posts Tagged With: Haywood County

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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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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Cataloochee Ranch: A Success Story in Haywood County

In the 1990’s, 67-year-old Maggie Valley resident Tom Alexander realized that he would have to do something to be able to hand down his beloved land, 1,000 mostly undeveloped acres adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, intact to his children. The land had been in his family for 60 years, but development in Haywood County had greatly increased over the past few decades and the value of his land was doubling in value about every three to four years. When it was valued at $10 million, Alexander saw little chance his children would ever be able to receive the land intact because his estate would have to pay about $4 million in taxes, which would be impossible without selling portions of it. When development seemed inevitable, he called the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy for help. SAHC was able to put a conservation easement on Hemphill Bald, 222-acres of his property, which blocked future development from ever being able to take place and reduced the land value by 78%.

“We have a strong sentimental attachment to the land, and we didn’t want to see it sold off or go into the hands of developers,” Alexander said in a July 1998 article in the Wildlife in North Carolina magazine.

After the initial Hemphill Bald easement, Alexander and the other owners, Judy Coker and Alice Aumen, went on to put five more sections of their property into conservation easements with SAHC. Because of the easements, Alexander was able to will his land to his children just the way it was a century before.

Cataloochee Ranch Property: Hikers, Views, and Seasons

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