High Country Conservancy Completes 97-acre Oliver Hill Project
Oliver Hill, located atop a prominent knoll in the Matney Community, features more than 97 acres of woodlands, grasslands, wildlife habitat, scenic views and a tributary to Craborchard Creek. Landowner Tom Andrews recently donated a conservation easement on this property to High Country Conservancy.
“This project represents a real all-round conservation success,” said Eric Hiegl, the Land Protection Director for HCC. “The landowner helped us achieve highly valuable scenic protection, along with important agricultural, wildlife and water resource protection.”
Currently, the 97-acre Oliver Hill Easement uses its open pasture for hay production and horse grazing with the forested portions supporting habitat for many native plants and animals. The harmonious juxtaposition of both the open and forested land can be easily appreciated as the entire knoll can be seen from Highway 194 as it passes through Matney. From a more distant viewpoint, the Oliver Hill Easement remains an unmarred part of the landscape.
“Protecting mountain vistas, particularly prominent ridges, is a high priority for HCC,” explains Bob Cherry, HCC President. “The protection of this property ensures future generations will enjoy the same view that we see today.”
The land also protects a North Carolina State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) ‘Priority Habitat’, a comprehensive strategy for use of federal funding to protect fish and wildlife species. SWAP takes a habitat-based approach to addressing the needs of the state’s conservation priority wildlife. The plan gives 371 species statewide priority status for conservation efforts and categorizes those species with 23 habitat types or one of 17 river basins.
“We’re excited to protect wildlife habitat identified by the N.C. State Wildlife Action Plan,” Hiegl said. “The cove forest and early successional habitat on the property assure common and uncommon wildlife species will thrive well into the future.”
To date, HCC has protected more than 2,750 acres of land in Avery, Ashe, and Watauga Counties.
HCC’s mission is to protect the natural resources of Appalachia by conserving land with significant ecological, cultural, recreational or scenic value in the North Carolina High Country. HCC is committed to assisting landowners interested in protecting their lands from future development while also preserving water quality, scenic views, agricultural lands and wildlife habitat. With ownership maintained by the landowner, conservation easements limit future development while allowing the landowner to continue to use the land. Benefits exist for donating conservation easements beyond the underlying gain of preserving the land; these benefits include possible federal and state income tax incentives.
Photos of scenic views along Hwy 194 and Old growth tree on HCC’s Oliver Hill conservation easement