We recently purchased two forested properties totaling 75 acres on the slopes of Saddle Mountain in Alleghany and Surry counties. To expand public recreation opportunities, CTNC intends to convey the properties to the state for inclusion in the Saddle Mountain portion of the Mitchell River Game Lands managed by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.
The two properties contain portions of Mill Creek, rated as a trout stream and “High Quality Waters” by the NC Department of Environmental Quality. The protection of these properties will help preserve unpolluted tributaries and portions of the main stem of Mill Creek in the headwaters of the Fisher River, the drinking water supply for the town of Dobson. Further downstream, the Yadkin River provides drinking water for millions of residents in the North Carolina Piedmont, including Winston-Salem.
The Saddle Mountain properties are located approximately ¼-mile off the Blue Ridge Parkway near milepost 222 in Ennice. The properties are visible from sections of the Parkway near Fox Hunters Paradise Overlook, north of Saddle Mountain.
CTNC purchased the properties on December 23 with generous support from Fred and Alice Stanback, the NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund, The Cannon Foundation, and the Tom and Elaine Wright Family Foundation.
In 2005, CTNC purchased 251 acres on Saddle Mountain and conveyed it to the state, enabling expansion of the Mitchell River Game Lands to include the vast majority of the iconic Saddle Mountain. The project contributes to an ongoing, collaborative conservation initiative with Piedmont Land Conservancy (based in Greensboro, www.piedmontland.org) and the state that has resulted in the protection of 510 acres on Saddle Mountain since 2005. Hunting is permitted on the state-owned portion of Saddle Mountain. In addition, a Stanback Hiking Trail was completed there in 2014, offering hikers the opportunity to enjoy expansive views of the Piedmont to the east and the Blue Ridge mountains to the west from the top of Saddle Mountain. The trail is accessible from Saddle Mountain Church Road.
Other land trusts that conserve land in Alleghany County include the Blue Ridge Conservancy (based in Boone, www.blueridgeconservancy.org), which assisted with this transaction, and the New River Conservancy (based in West Jefferson, www.newriverconservancy.org).