Conservancy adds on to protected Roan Mountain lands

out grassyridgeA 601-acre tract in Avery County near Roan Mountain has been purchased and conserved by the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. The tract is adjacent to the Pisgah National Forest and near the Appalachian Trail in the Highlands of Roan. The tract borders one of the highest ridges of the Southern Appalachians, and rises to 6,150 feet in elevation.

Protecting the land has been one of the group’s top conservation priorities for four decades because of its size and location within a large network of protected lands. At its northern boundary, it takes in the crest of Grassy Ridge where it joins Pisgah National Forest, and at the southern end the property joins the Yellow Mountain State Natural Area.

The property consists of a large, forested bowl surrounded by three ridges. One of the largest concentrations of rare species in the state is found on the property’s ridges. The purchase also protects headwater for the region and local tributaries.

“Nearby Grassy Ridge bald is the best remaining and most pristine grassy bald in the Southern Appalachians,” said Judy Murray, the organization’s roan stewardship director. “This bald and its adjacent rock outcrops have the highest concentration of rare plant species and the fewest non-native species of any site in the Highlands of Roan.”

Guided hikes on the tract will be held this year.

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