Land locked (into conservation easements)

Four tracts of land totaling 852 acres will now be protected from development, thanks to a unanimous vote by the Buncombe County Commissioners at yesterday’s meeting.

The landowners of four parcels, three of which are in Sandy Mush, have agreed to enter into conservation agreements, which will preserve the land from development even if it is sold to new owners. The commissioners helped to fund the purchase of the easements, which allow property owners to to receive partial compensation for the value of their land in exchange for giving up the right to build there.

One 200-acre tract is located in the Upper Hominy Township, and borders Pisgah National Forest. North Carolina has one of the highest percentages nationwide for development along the edges of national forest lands, which places habitat and rare ecosystems at risk (see “The Green Scene,” Nov. 7).

The Sandy Mush tracts include a 500-acre parcel called Bee Branch owned by Keith Wells and Pearl Black (pictured at top); 72 acres owned by Beth Shook (also pictured), and an 80-acre farmstead in Worley Cove owned by R.J. and Lillie Blazer.

— Rebecca Bowe, contributing editor

Photos courtesy of Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, the land trust that negotiated the purchases.

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