CTNC purchased a 104-acre property that adjoins the Blue Ridge Parkway for over half a mile in Jackson County. The forested property, at milepost 451.5, can be viewed from Cranberry Ridge Overlook and other areas along the Parkway.
The tract contains almost half a mile of Open Branch in the headwaters of Soco Creek in the Little Tennessee River basin. Elevations range from 3,900 to 5,000 feet, making it prime high-elevation spruce-fir habitat. The Conservation Trust purchased the tract below appraised value. Generous funding was provided by Fred and Alice Stanback of Salisbury.
Conservation of the Open Branch tract complements CTNC’s acquisition of 16 acres below the Hornbuckle Valley Overlook at milepost 453.4. This tract is completely forested and abuts the Parkway for a quarter mile. The purchase price was again below the appraised value.
CTNC plans to convey the Open Branch and Hornbuckle Valley Overlook properties to the National Park Service for inclusion in the Parkway’s official boundary within three years. The tracts are part of a growing area of contiguous, protected land that is intended to become the Waterrock Knob/Plott-Balsams Park along the Parkway.
“The preservation of these two properties in their natural condition is a major plus for the Blue Ridge Parkway. Pristine waters, mature forests, and healthy wildlife habitat will remain forever. In addition, the tracts’ scenic appeal will continue to attract visitors to the western portion of the Parkway,” said Mark Woods, Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent.
“We greatly appreciate the owners of both properties because they offered them at bargain prices, enabling us to use our resources efficiently to preserve these beautiful natural areas,” said CTNC executive director Reid Wilson.