SAHC purchases 65 acres in Nolichucky River Watershed

Published 11:12 am Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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In February, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) purchased 65 acres just south of Johnson City and Jonesborough. The tract shares a long border with Cherokee National Forest and will be transferred to become part of the national forest in the future.

“This property on the slopes of Cherokee Mountain has been in the same family for four generations,” says Land Protection Director Michelle Pugliese. “The landowners reached a decision that they needed to sell the land, which tucks into a corner of Cherokee National Forest. SAHC was able to work with our partners in the U.S. Forest Service to fulfill their goals, and provide a means for the landowners to meet their own needs, while securing a conservation outcome for the land – a win, win, win situation. This project continues SAHC’s efforts to protect land for habitat, scenic views, and water quality in our Appalachian Trail Countryside Conservation Focus Area.” 

The recently purchased tract contains steeply sloping, forested ridges with multiple springs draining to Little Cherokee Creek in the Nolichucky River watershed. Elevations on the property range from 2,100 to 2,800 feet to a ridgeline on Cherokee Mountain where it joins the Cherokee National Forest. Part of the uppermost ridgeline is visible from the Appalachian Trail. SAHC will steward the land as a nature preserve until it can be transferred into public ownership. 

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The property was jointly owned by cousins in different geographic areas of the nation, who came to a consensus that they needed to do something with the property before it passed into the next, more widespread generation. They realized that coordinating and caring for the land would have become even more complex for the next generation.

“We felt good about the relationship with SAHC because the land would be preserved,” said Doug Delaney, one of the six landowners who sold the tract. “It was a mutually beneficial agreement. When the opportunity to conserve the land with SAHC came up, we felt that would be a good solution all the way around. We are happy that eventually it will be transferred to the national forest.”