100 Years of Conservation
Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust
In 1909, the citizens of the Town of Highlands, North Carolina banded together, gathered their pennies and dollars and for $500 purchased the summit of Satulah Mountain to protect it from development for all time. Five years later they would add Ravenel Park, a rock outcrop that overlooks town. Since 1909 the organization born from that first effort, known today as the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust , has gone on to conserve nearly 1,700 acres. Originally the land trust was called the Highlands Improvement Association, created in 1883 to beautify the Town. While the land trust of today has gone through a couple of name changes it has always had the mission to conserve those places we all love for the generations to come.
The Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust’s protected lands include Satulah Mountain, Chimneytop Mountain, Rock Mountain, Laurel Knob, Rhodes Big View, and the Henry Wright Tract. This last tract is a 22 acres old growth hemlock forest containing the largest living hemlock, the Cheoah, at over five feet in diameter it measures over 1,500 cubic feet in volume and 158.7 feet tall. In the last two years the land trust purchased two properties through the NC Natural Heritage Trust Fund in partnership with the Plant Conservation Program. The land trust is a member of the Blue Ridge Forever Coalition and priorities lands to conserve using the NC State Wildlife Action Plan.
The land trust is run by an active Board of Director’s and two staff members and hopes to add a Stewardship Coordinator this year via Americorps. Its service area includes southern Macon and Jackson Counties in the mountains of Western North Carolina and continues its mission today by accepting conservation easement donations, conducting education activities, and working with volunteers to steward those conserved lands.
During the summer and fall of 2009 they will be celebrating 100 years of conservation through a series of special events including hiking the Kelsey trail, having a Highlands Improvement Society social, tea on Satulah, and a pumpkin festival. See a list of their upcoming events on their website. Please join in celebrating this special accomplishment. After all it only comes along once in a hundred years!
Photo by Kevin Fitz Patrick for Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust