ASHEVILLE — In July, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy purchased 62 acres at Doll Branch in the Highlands of Roan, protecting important habitat resources and picturesque mountain views.

The land in Carter County, Tenn., adjoins Cherokee National Forest and is less than a half-mile from the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.

“This acquisition continues SAHC’s conservation efforts across the biologically significant Roan Massif, securing wildlife corridors and ridgelines reaching above 4,500 feet elevation,” says Michelle Pugliese, SAHC’s land protection director. “It provides high elevation sanctuaries for wildlife and plants. Hikers along the Appalachian Trail will continue to enjoy beautiful views of these undeveloped, forested slopes.”

Conserving this land also permanently protects water quality in the area. A section of Doll Branch flows across the northern edge of the property and into Shell Creek, which provides a habitat for trout.

The Doll Branch property adjoins the 324-acre Hump Mountain property that SAHC purchased in 2017 and transferred to the U.S. Forest Service in 2018. SAHC plans to own and manage the new tract until it can be transferred to public ownership for inclusion in Cherokee National Forest. Land and Water Conservation Fund funding has been allocated for this property, and the U.S. Forest Service is currently working on acquiring the land from SAHC.

“The Roan Highlands are managed for protection of exceptional resources — unique scenery, geology and rare plant and animal species,” says JaSal Morris, forest supervisor of Cherokee National Forest. “The proposed Doll Branch land purchase will expand this protected area and conserve these values for future national forest visitors for generations to come. We appreciate the efforts of SAHC to help make this a reality.”

The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy is a nonprofit land trust conserving land and water resources in the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina. Celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, SAHC has protected more than 75,000 acres of unique plant and animal habitat, clean water, farmland, scenic views and places for people to enjoy outdoor recreation. For more information, click to appalachian.org.

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