Press release from the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy:
The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) recently purchased 51 acres on a prominent ridge near the Appalachian Trail in the Highlands of Roan. The Haw Orchard Ridge property adjoins Pisgah National Forest, rising to over 5,400 ft. just south of Roan High Knob. It is visible from the Appalachian Trail at Round Bald and 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,” says 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.”
SAHC 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. SAHC received the grant 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,” says Land Protection Director Michelle Pugliese. “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.”