Jackson to vote on Blackrock conservation project

Sylva commissioners voted unanimously during their May 24 meeting to contribute $250,000 to a 441.5-acre conservation project adjacent to Pinnacle Park, but the success of the endeavor could hinge on a vote the Jackson County commissioners will take during a special meeting at 11:05 a.m. Thursday, May 31, at the Jackson County Justice and Administration Center in Sylva. 

Conservation project stalls in Jackson

An effort to conserve 441.5 acres of land in the Plott Balsam Mountains adjacent to Sylva’s Pinnacle Park has met resistance from a majority of the Jackson County commissioners, with the commission’s three Republican members expressing hesitation during a May 15 work session on the topic. 

Local governments mull 400-acre land purchase

An effort to conserve a 441.5-acre block of land adjacent to Pinnacle Park in the Plott Balsams is now looking much more feasible than when the possibility was first discussed nearly two years ago. 

Elk habitat projects underway on Silver Game Lands

When The Conservation Fund began acquiring the land that would eventually become the William H. Silver Game Lands near Maggie Valley, the idea was that parts of the property could be converted into elk-friendly habitat, hopefully alleviating conflicts between the large ungulates and the farmers whose crops they love to munch. 

Linked to the landscape: Community envisions Plott Balsams’ future

The doors opened, and the room filled — with hikers, bikers, ecologists, conservation workers, economic development professionals and Cherokee tribal members alike who were intent on making their voices heard during a public form Thursday, Jan. 25, which took input on plans that will impact the future of Waterrock Knob and the Plott Balsams. 

Worth protecting: Conservation organizations partner to preserve Parkway lands

Born in the upstairs of the Post Office building his mom ran in Crabtree, Robert Williams, now 87, has always called Haywood County home. 

His dad was in the cattle business, and when the family moved to Canton during Williams’ childhood, chores such as feeding cattle, splitting wood and tending the fire kept Williams busy. But his grandfather William Silver’s 1,800-acre tract in the Plott Balsams, while also technically a workplace, provided a respite from the busyness of day-to-day life. Silver and his son — Williams’ uncle — ranged cattle up there, and in the summers Williams would join them. 

Keeping ash in the Smokies: Land managers, conservation groups work to protect ash from invasive pest

At some point roughly 20 years ago, a shipment from Asia arrived in the United States with a passel of six-legged stowaways lurking in its wooden pallets. Since it was first detected near Detroit in 2002, the emerald ash borer has gnawed its way through ash trees across North America, leaving a swath of destruction across 31 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces — and counting.

The EAB was first spotted in North Carolina in 2013, when it was confirmed in Granville, Person, Vance and Warren counties, a contiguous area in the central part of the state bordering Virginia. Now it’s present in 33 of the state’s 100 counties and continues to spread. WNC counties with confirmed ash borer infestations are Haywood, Swain, Macon, Graham, Buncombe, Madison, Mitchell and Yancey counties — this month, the N.C. Forest Service found EAB on several trees in the Alarka area of Swain County after the beetle was initially found in Bryson City last summer.

Jackson considers giving toward land conservation effort

The fundraising deadline is drawing nearer for an effort to conserve 15.9 acres adjacent to Panthertown Valley, and the Jackson County Commissioners have indicated a willingness to chip in toward the more than $80,000 still needed. 

Federal dollars fuel WNC farmland conservation: $8 million allocation is region’s largest ever

Land conservation groups across the region found something to celebrate this month when the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced an $8 million allocation for farmland conservation in Western North Carolina — a gargantuan number that the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy calls “unprecedented.”

This type of funding, allocated through the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Regional Conservation Partnership Plan under the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, has been available in the past. But never before has the amount been so large or so specifically targeted to Western North Carolina.

Conservation easement finalized near Marion

One of the largest conservation easements to ever be donated by an individual in North Carolina history has been finalized in Rutherford and McDowell counties.

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