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Land purchase protects crown jewel of the A.T.

Views from the breathtaking Hump Mountain in the Roan Highlands are now protected thanks to a 324-acre purchase the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy has completed on the mountain’s northern slopes.

The Appalachian Trail passes just 500 feet from the property line, where grassy balds afford hikers 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape. The newly protected property is prominent in that viewshed, reaching 5,000 feet in elevation and adjoining the Cherokee National Forest and Hampton Creek Cove State Natural Area. 

“This property has been one of our top conservation priorities since the founding of our organization, and we are deeply proud of having worked with the landowners and our partners to acquire it,” said SAHC executive director Carl Silverstein.

In the early 1980s, SAHC helped negotiate the U.S. Forest Service’s purchase of 1,400 acres on the North Carolina side of Hump Mountain, and over the decades they continued periodic outreach to Oscar Julian and his heirs, who owned the newly conserved property. The land contains exceptional habitat and water resources and is almost completely surrounded by Audubon Society Important Bird Areas. It also contains the headwaters of Shell Creek and headwater tributaries for Doll Branch. 

“This land has been in our family for years,” said Zack Julian, one of the landowners. “It belonged to my grandfather and was passed on to my dad and our family. I have so many memories, from camping to picnics and hiking up to the A.T. with my parents. I will forever cherish and treasure those memories, and they are part of the reason why we are excited to pass this land to SAHC. Its serenity and beauty will remain intact because we are leaving it in good hands.”  

Philanthropists Fred and Alice Stanback, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation act grant and a bridge loan from The Conservation Fund financed the purchase. SAHC intends to own the property until funds are available to transfer and add it to the Cherokee National Forest. 

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