More Cold Mountain land conserved

Cold Mountain is a Western North Carolina peak so beloved and romanticized, there are even a best-selling novel, Hollywood movie and microbrew bearing its name.

But even though the 6,030-foot summit is protected as part of the Shining Rock Wilderness of Pisgah National Forest, and the state Cold Mountain Game Lands protect land on the western slopes, large chunks of the iconic mountain remain in private ownership.

Aiming to keep as much as possible of Cold Mountain undeveloped, wild and alive not only in legend but in reality, the Southern Appalachian Highland Conservancy on June 17, 2016 purchased a 162-acre tract of land on the northwestern slope of the mountain, adjoining Pisgah National Forest and the Cold Mountain Game Lands.

This Haywood County land, known as the Dix Creek tract, contains an exceptional variety of forest communities and potential habitat for rare species, according to biologists.

The premium land has been a conservation priority for the SAHC and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission for 20 years, she said. The SAHC intends to own the tract in the short term and transfer it to the wildlife commission by 2017 to be added to the Cold Mountain Game Lands, when it will be open to the public for hunting, fishing, hiking, bird watching and other recreation.

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