Do it for love.
Of a space so green and still it makes your eyes water.
what’s in your wallet, bonus points, two-for-one, gas prices, those don’t exist here. mossy hummocks aren’t on managers special.
Of the life, the lives, stirring so loud under your feet it makes your ears thunder. Is a trumpet sounding? You could snuff it tomorrow and here would stay, live, and green, green and rotting every moment.
Of a space where rotting is a privilege.
Of a nice piece of gneiss, older than your grandmother’s grandmother, older than the river, older than Pangaea, and no, you can’t mine this spot, thank you very much.
Look up up up and squint. Your eyes are thistle slits and still you can’t make out the top of the tallest branch that has fused into sky.
Of the faithful reminder that things (most things) made with human hands are not in the business of staying.
Of a chance to maybe glimpse the rocks blanketed by hellebore heads or peeping foam flowers. Or stinking benjamins. Hearts-a-bustin. A chance to comb the maidens hairs and nodding ladies tresses. Dog hobble. Bastard toadflax.
Of a chance to revel in being in the right place and right time.
I work as the Lands Protection Associate at Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. SAHC’s mission is to conserve the special places of western NC and eastern TN — the forests, wildlife, water, scenic beauty, and agricultural communities of the southern Appalachians. My job as part of the Lands Team is to help people who own land, who ache with love for their land and who wake up at night fearing that one day their land will be developed and lost forever. I help landowners understand what conservation tools are out there and I work with the rest of the staff at SAHC to determine how we could partner with them to permanently protect their land. When SAHC and a landowner decide to move ahead with conserving their land I help the Lands Team coordinate that project to completion. When we get to go out to beautiful places and think about what it means that they will be beautiful forever … this is a great line of work to be in. It been a fun year here as SAHC celebrates 50,000 acres of land protected since their founding in 1974. ~Emily Bidgood, Lands Protection Associate~
HICKORY NUT GAP FARM. An innovation farm enterprise in Fairview, NC, that will remain preserved for agriculture and passive recreation forever! SAHC and Hickory Nut Gap’s wonderful dozen (or so) landowners partnered together and made their shared vision a reality in 2010. I have been working with these same landowners and their families to conserve more forest and working lands surrounding the farm and up the valley.
SANDYMUSH HERB NURSERY. An idyllic spot on the Sandymush Herb Nursery property in Sandymush. Sandymush valley, in north eastern Buncombe County, has escaped the exurban sprawl of nearby Leicester. Its fertile productive lowlands are surrounded by peaks of the Newfound mountain range. SAHC is the only land trust working to ensure that Sandymush stays idyllic and productive. Thanks to the leadership of community farmers and landowners, 6,000 acres have been permanently conserved in the Sandymush highlands and lowlands.
SANDYMUSH FARM. The high elevation summer grazing pasture was one of the first conservation easements in Sandymush. The owner and rancher, picture here, has been such an important conservation community leader. I have been working with him to protect more of his winter grazing pasture and agricultural land in the valley.
SNOWBALL MOUNTAIN. Fellow AmeriCorps Jamie Ervin is seated at the Snowball Mtn trail overlook surveying the incline we just climbed for 4 hours. Rich cove forest, 90 acres of it, that I haven’t experienced outside the Great Smoky Mtn National Park — I’ll take 8 hours! SAHC purchased the property last year, which adjoins public lands and a public walking trail from the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Craggy Gardens. The project was near closing when I started my service term, so I only made some maps and learned a lot by sitting in on landowner meetings. This picture below comes from when Margot Wallston, Jamie Ervin, (GO PROJECT CONSERVE!) and I were out doing the field work for the Snowball Mountain Land Mgmt Plan that Margot will write.
ROCKY FORK’S 10,000 ACRES. I drive by this Tennessee vista every time I commute between Asheville and Johnson City. It is the most striking peak on the I-26 highway. Sometimes it feels so close as if I could pull over on the road shoulder and touch its velvet folds. It is beautiful in any season, any weather, any time of day. SAHC and its partners worked hard for a decade to strike a deal with the timbering company that owned the property–the largest piece of privately owned land in the southeast. Now all 10,000 acres will be transferred to the US Forest Service, open for public use—hiking, trout fishing, mountain biking etc. A very cool thing to happen in our lifetimes! The community leader who stirred up the grassroots support for its protection, David Ramsey, has been honored nationally (and here too) for his tenacity.