SEVEN DEVILS — Boone-based environmental protection nonprofit Blue Ridge Conservancy announced on Wednesday, Jan. 15, that it had purchased 91 acres of Peak Mountain in Avery County for $1.389 million.

The land includes the summit of Peak Mountain, originally part of the planned Tynecastle development.

“The prominent rock outcropping is familiar to residents and visitors of the Banner Elk area and is quite visible from Sugar Mountain and Seven Devils,” Blue Ridge Conservancy said in a Jan. 15 statement. “The property was previously owned by the Schwebke Family of Avery County, and is known by several other names including Tynecastle Peak, Invershiel Peak and Dunvegan Peak.”

The land was purchased from the Schwebke family, who had purchased the property in 1991, according to the Avery County Tax Office.

“The Schwebke family is thankful to work with Blue Ridge Conservancy to protect Tynecastle Peak in loving memory of Robert C. Schwebke, an amazing husband, father and grandfather,” said Judith Schwebke. “He loved the peak of this mountain and knowing that it is protected and enjoyed by others now is very special to our family.”

The sale was finalized on Dec. 31, 2019, according to the Avery County Tax Office. The sale price of $1,389,000 for the 89.51 acres exceeded the tax value of $374,000, according to Avery County. Funding to purchase this property came from a donation from Fred and Alice Stanback, the conservancy stated.

“The land boasts a dramatic ridgeline, healthy forests, interesting rocky outcrops and several populations of rare plant species,” Blue Ridge Conservancy stated. “Peak Mountain is located within the Dunvegan Natural Heritage Area, a significant natural area identified by the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program. The NHP developed the state’s most comprehensive database of natural resource information based on rare plant and animal species occurrences and assemblages of natural communities.”

“This is especially important wildlife habitat conservation for migratory birds, bats and insects using the Grandfather Mountain area corridor,” Blue Ridge Conservancy stated.

The 91 acres is adjacent to 310 acres Blue Ridge Conservancy has acquired since 2016. The spine of Peak Mountain runs parallel to N.C. 105 with Grandfather Mountain to the south.

“Blue Ridge Conservancy will continue to work with the town of Seven Devils to pursue grants for the creation of a public access trail on Peak Mountain to connect to the town’s Otter Falls Park,” said Blue Ridge Conservancy Executive Director Charlie Brady. “Public access acquisitions are a continuing priority for BRC, and the Peak Mountain project is a significant achievement toward that end.”

Thomas Sherrill contributed reporting to this story.

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