Broad River Headwaters Protected Forever
The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy recently protected 235 acres on Dill Knob in eastern Buncombe County, safeguarding the headwater streams of the Broad River Watershed. Elizabeth and Terry Simmonds signed a conservation agreement with SAHC, protecting their property in the Swannanoa Mountains, just south of Black Mountain.
The protection of Flat Creek, which runs through the property, prevents sedimentation and other types of pollution from running into the Broad River at its origination before the water flows toward Shelby then reaching South Carolina," SAHC Executive Director Carl Silverstein said. "The reach of this project goes well beyond Buncombe County."
The Dill Knob property boasts several intact forest communities, providing habitat for wildlife that roam through it and neighboring wild tracts. Nearby protected areas include the 400-acre Christmount conservation easement and smaller family-owned properties such as the Flat Top Mountain and Moser Family easements.
The Simmonds are spreading their conservation story to neighboring landowners hoping to see that this conserved area grows. Landowners adjacent to them are now considering conservation status.
"Two hundred acres is real neat, but that really doesn't get it," Terry Simmonds said. "To secure ample wildlife habitat, we need other blocks protected as well. In this part of the county, we are lucky to have many large tracts of land that are largely undeveloped, and we need to make sure they remain wild spaces."
The Dill Knob property climbs to 3,600 feet at its highest point. It is heavily wooded through the entire property, but still offers peeks at Pisgah Mountain, Flat Top Mountain and the Pisgah and Balsam ranges to the west.
The Simmonds commonly see bear, deer, turkey and neotropical migrant songbirds making use of their land. "Wildlife is very much part of life here," Terry Simmonds said. Simmonds wants to do his part to curb the "mega-homes" and crowded developments speckling the mountains, as he sees them making permanent impacts, although the structures may only be used temporarily. "The way the economy is going, I don't think their kids will be able to afford the houses," he said. "There will be no second market for them. Land is torn up for houses that are not going to be used a generation from now."
Obtaining a conservation agreement was a detailed, thorough process that spurred the Simmonds to look deeply at their land, pin-pointing exactly the qualities they are protecting, Terry Simmonds said.
"It is not a simple thing, but it's satisfying," he said. "We now know the property will continue to look like this forever."