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Wednesday, 16 May 2012 13:18

Conservancy group celebrates 50,000 protected acres

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The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy is celebrating its protection of more than 50,000 acres across Western North Carolina and East Tennessee. This is the organization’s 38th year of preserving land from the Highlands of Roan to the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

“Protecting 50,000 acres of the Blue Ridge Mountains is a tremendous accomplishment that demonstrates the commitment of a dedicated group of people to forever preserve one of the most important places in the world for biodiversity,” said Carl Silverstein, SAHC executive director. “We invite the Appalachian community to celebrate with us, to play a role in protecting the rich diversity of the Southern Appalachians.”

This land protection ranges from vast tracts, including the recent acquisition of 225-acre Spear Tops in the Roan Highlands, to smaller in-holdings transferred to Mt. Mitchell State Park.  

As the organization matured, it evolved to protect mountains and places further afield. In the early 1990s, SAHC pioneered the use of easements in the Southeast to protect Cataloochee Ranch at the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

“Our family has lived in these mountains for almost a hundred years. Cataloochee Ranch was originally founded in 1933, and thanks to our conservation easement with SAHC, we know it will continue to be here, generation after generation,” said Judy Coker, co-owner of Catalochee Ranch.

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