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SAHC acquires 51 acre tract near top of Roan Mountain

John Thompson • Dec 10, 2019 at 8:17 PM

ROAN MOUNTAIN — The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy recently acquired 51 acres of property near the highest point on Roan Mountain.

The property is at an elevation of 5,400 feet on Haw Orchard Ridge and is just south of the Roan High Knob. The property is adjacent to Pisgah National Forest and it is visible from the Appalachian Trail on Round Bald. It is also visible from Grassy Ridge Bald.

“Haw Orchard Ridge protects a portion of the well known red spruce-Fraser fir stand which stretches from Roan High Knob to Carvers Gap,” said SAHC Roan Stewardship Director Marquette Crockett. “This spruce-fir stand is used by numerous rare high-elevation species, including red crossbill, northern saw-whet owl, and pygmy salamander. It is also inhabited by federally endangered species including the Carolina northern flying squirrel and the spruce-fir moss spider. We hope that our protection of this property and restoration work will help to create a safe haven for these climate sensitive species.”

The conservancy’s acquisition was recently announced in a press release. The conservancy went on to say in the release that it will manage the land as a nature preserve, restoring conifer habitat for birds with a recently awarded grant from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative. The grant was awarded to the conservancy to actively manage red spruce-Fraser fir and rapidly declining shortleaf pine habitats, monitor vegetation growth and bird populations, and conduct pre- and post-management workshops to demonstrate the use of low-cost, minimal impact forestry practices to restore declining conifer ecosystems in the Southern Appalachians for the benefit of birds of greatest conservation need.

“Protecting Haw Orchard Ridge has been a priority of SAHC’s for decades,” SAHC Land Protection Director Michelle Pugliese said. “Securing the rare high elevation habitat found on this property, bordering Pisgah National Forest and just down the mountain from the Appalachian Trail, is a great conservation achievement. We are so grateful to Fred and Alice Stanback, and the Conservation Trust for North Carolina for providing funding to make this acquisition possible.”

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