The nonprofit conservation organization recently purchased 104 acres that adjoin the Blue Ridge Parkway for more than half a mile in Jackson County. The forested property, at milepost 451.5, can be viewed from Cranberry Ridge Overlook and other areas along the Parkway.
The tract contains almost half a mile of Open Branch in the headwaters of Soco Creek in the Little Tennessee River basin. Elevations range from 3,900 to 5,000 feet, making it prime high-elevation spruce-fir habitat. Fred and Alice Stanback of Salisbury provided “generous funding” for the purchase, the CTNC said in a press release.
Conservation of the Open Branch tract complements CTNC’s October acquisition of 16 acres below the Hornbuckle Valley Overlook at milepost 453.4. The purchase price for both properties was below appraised value, the CTNC said.
CTNC plans to convey the Open Branch and Hornbuckle Valley Overlook properties to the National Park Service. The tracts are part of a growing area of contiguous, protected land that is intended to become the Waterrock Knob/Plott-Balsams Park along the Parkway.
“The preservation of these two properties in their natural condition is a major plus for the Blue Ridge Parkway. Pristine waters, mature forests and healthy wildlife habitat will remain forever. In addition, the tracts’ scenic appeal will continue to attract visitors to the western portion of the Parkway,” said Mark Woods, Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent.
The Conservation Trust has now conserved 49 properties on the Blue Ridge Parkway, totaling 30,786 acres.