Land near Appalachian Trail conserved

As the popular Appalachian Trail continues to morph and grow and attract more users and admirers, protecting the land that hugs the footpath and winds into its view is more important than ever, conservationists say.

And now one of the more popular access points to the trail in Mitchell County, North Carolina has a little more elbow room in permanent preservation.

The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, a land trust based in Asheville, recently purchased 76 acres a half-mile from Carvers Gap, a popular spot for hikers accessing the Appalachian Trail and grassy balds of the Highlands of Roan. SAHC acquired the tract to preserve it and protect scenic views from multiple vantage points along the AT.

“It’s very important. As you cross Round Bald on the AT, you see the tract, and it’s something that’s been on our priority list for many years,” said Morgan Sommerville, southern regional director of the nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conservancy. “The AT crosses a grassy bald there that with a ‘Sound of Music’-like environment, with very little vegetation to obscure your view into eastern Tennessee and as far as Grandfather Mountain and Mount Mitchell. We’re hoping the U.S. Forest Service will purchase the tract from the SAHC using Land and Water Conservation funds.”

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