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More lands in Roan Highlands to be protected from future development

John Thompson • Aug 30, 2019 at 6:16 PM

ROAN MOUNTAIN — The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy has announced its latest acquisition of land in the Roan Massif. The land adjoins a larger tract in the scenic Hump Mountain area that was purchased a couple of years ago and will be protected from future development.

In July, the conservancy purchased 62 acres in the Doll Branch section. The organization said the acquisition will protect land that is important habitat resources and will preserve picturesque mountain views.

The land is in Carter County, adjoins the Cherokee National Forest and lies less than a half-mile from the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.

“This acquisition continues SAHC’s conservation efforts across the biologically significant Roan Massif, securing wildlife corridors and ridgelines reaching above 4,500 feet elevation,” said Michelle Pugliese, land protection director for the conservancy. “It provides high-elevation sanctuaries for wildlife and plants. Hikers along the Appalachian Trail will continue to enjoy beautiful views of these undeveloped, forested slopes.”

Conserving this land also permanently protects water quality in the area. A section of Doll Branch flows across the northern edge of the property and into Shell Creek, which provides habitat for trout.

The Doll Branch property adjoins the 324-acre Hump Mountain property that the conservancy  purchased in 2017 and transferred to the U.S. Forest Service in 2018. The conservancy plans to own and manage the new tract until it can be transferred to public ownership for inclusion in the Cherokee National Forest.

Land and Water Conservation Fund funding has been allocated for this property, and the U.S. Forest Service is currently working on acquiring the land from SAHC.

“The Roan Highlands are managed for protection of exceptional resources — unique scenery, geology and rare plant and animal species,” said JaSal Morris, forest supervisor of Cherokee National Forest. “The proposed Doll Branch land purchase will expand this protected area and conserve these values for future National Forest visitors for generations to come. We appreciate the efforts of SAHC to help make this a reality.”

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