“This property contains a remarkable combination of features that have made it a conservation priority for decades,” explains Marquette Crockett, SAHC’s Roan Stewardship Director. “We conserve some properties to preserve exceptional water quality and native trout habitat and we protect others because they contain rare, high elevation open areas or exceptional forest habitat - but Yellow Spot has everything. It’s a microcosm of the Roan Highlands. SAHC’s acquisition of this tract secures a perfect puzzle piece, surrounded by National Forest and protecting the main spine of the Roan Massif.”
A massif is a cluster of mountains containing separate peaks.
The property rises to 5,100 feet elevation at the peak of Yellow Spot and will provide a buffer for sensitive habitat in Pisgah National Forest. The Audubon Society's Roan Mountain Important Bird Area covers approximately two-thirds of the tract.
“Yellow Spot has all the interesting and rare high elevation species you would expect in a property of this caliber – Gray’s lily, Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Eastern Spotted Skunk, Indiana Bat, and more,” continues Crockett. "A biological inventory of the property identified six rare animal species and 12 rare plant species, including Bog Goldenrod and Trailing Wolfsbane.”
The tract contains over 2.5 miles of stream corridor, including 10 headwater tributaries of Cook Creek and Pineroot Branch.
“Much of the land is full of boulders and streams, and it contains some of the more rare habitat found in the Roan,” says Crockett. “Although rugged and remote, it is also highly visible from popular vantage points across the region. You can see the boundaries of this property from both sides of the Massif – from Buladean to Bakersville. Drivers along the scenic NC 261 and visitors to the world-famous Catawba rhododendron gardens near Carvers Gap enjoy scenic views of this protected land.”
The Yellow Spot property was a longstanding conservation priority both because of its important strategic location and its outstanding conservation values. SAHC's acquisition of this property fills in a gap in the network of protected lands along the primary ridgeline of the globally-significant Roan Massif.
“We are extremely grateful to philanthropists Fred and Alice Stanback, Tim Sweeney, and The Biltmore Company for enabling SAHC to protect this incredible tract,” says Crockett. “This is an investment both in the future of conservation and in outdoor recreation and the economic vitality of local communities. Keeping viewsheds in the Roan Highlands intact and beautiful is a valuable asset to our region.”
SAHC plans to own the property for the long term, managing it for habitat and clean water. Visitors to popular outdoor recreation hotspots, including the Appalachian Trail and rhododendron gardens atop Roan Mountain, will be able to enjoy views of the untouched land for generations to come.
The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy is a non-profit land trust headquartered in Asheville, North Carolina. Since 1974, SAHC has protected over 73,000 acres of unique plant and animal habitat, clean water, farmland, scenic views and places for people to enjoy outdoor recreation of the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina. To learn more, visit Appalachian.org.