JACKSON COUNTY, NC (Aug. 20, 2018)—A rugged peak in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina is now protected forever, thanks to support from the Open Space Institute (OSI) to Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust. The land, within view of the Blue Ridge Parkway, will continue to be a haven for plants and animals, even as the climate changes.
Once slated for development, the 154-acre “High Knob” property is located within the thick forests of the Nantahala National Forest. Featuring a peak that juts up approximately 5,200 feet, the property is home to rare high elevation habitat for threatened species.
OSI supported the project through its Resilient Landscapes Initiative, which is made possible with funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The Resilient Landscapes Initiative seeks to build capacity of land trusts responding to a changing climate.
“The High Knob property’s rugged landscape not only hosts incredible biodiversity today, but will continue to be haven for plants and animals into the future, even as the climate changes,” said Peter Howell, OSI’s executive vice president. “OSI is proud to have partnered with the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust to protect this remarkable land.”
Since 2007, OSI has helped to protect 8,223 acres in North Carolina by providing $15.8 million in grants and loans. The High Knob project was the sixth project to close in the Southern Blue Ridge with the support of the Southeast Resilient Landscapes Fund, which has helped protect 22,489 acres in the southeast as of September 2018 including 3,766 acres in the Southern Blue Ridge. These lands have added to state and national forests, state parks, game lands, and county park systems.
Featuring nearly 1,300 feet of elevation change, the High Knob property is home to 6,350 linear feet of streams, rare high elevation springs (also known as “seeps”), rare boulder fields, a mix of oak forests, and the rare high elevation rocky summit community.
Also found at the High Knob property are the eastern small-footed bat, the NC state rare/threatened small yellow lady’s-slipper orchid, and the tawny crescent butterfly. Brown creepers, yellow-bellied sapsucker, and winter wrens have also been sighted.
Covering much of the western tip of North Carolina, Nantahala National Forest is the largest of the four national forests in the state.
In addition to OSI, this project was also supported by funding from the Conservation Trust for North Carolina.