Watauga County: Blue Ridge Conservancy purchased an 88 acre property on Harmon Knob with intentions to expand the Tater Hill Bog Preserve. This acquisition follows 30 acres BRC recently added to the Tater Hill Bog. Harmon Knob is a large, broad, highly visible mountain located southeast of Potato Hill in Watauga County. The property, purchased from Billy and Rosalea Proffitt, is located within the Potato Hill Bog, Rich Mountain Bald, and Harmon Knob Natural Area, as designated by the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program (NHP).
Harmon Knob is important in terms of its geographic position relative to other ecologically significant sites throughout the Amphibolite Mountains. Amphibolite is a mineral-rich rock type yielding a more neutral soil pH than typically found in the mountains. The Amphibolites, which include Three Top Mountain, Elk Knob, Mount Jefferson, and Bluff Mountain, average about 5,000 feet, with 5,566-foot Snake Mountain reaching the highest elevation.
Lying at elevations ranging from 3,600 to 4,800 feet, Harmon Knob supports extensive mature, contiguous hardwood forests housing a variety of rare plants.
Norris Fork, a tributary of Meat Camp Creek, flows through the northern portion for the entire length of the boundary. The NC Division of Water Resources rates Norris Fork as Class C, Trout Waters. Several rare plant populations are known to exist on the property.
“Part of BRC’s mission is conserving lands with ecologically significant habitat,” said BRC Executive Director, Walter Clark. “The Southern Appalachian Mountains contain abundant biodiversity, potentially threatened by development pressures. Our work to protect biodiversity plays an important role in the way ecosystems function and in the many services they provide, including carbon sequestration, water and air quality control, nutrient cycling, wildlife habitat, and resistance against invasive species.”
The Tater Hill Bog Preserve is 1,200 acres of rare bog ecosystem, home to an array of endangered and threatened plant species, and contains the headwaters of Howard’s Creek, an outstanding fisheries resource. Tater Hill Bog is identified as a top conservation priority by the NHP and used for ecological research. The Proffitt property shares a 378 foot boarder with the Preserve.
Tater Hill Bog Preserve is managed by the NC Plant Conservation Program, a division of the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Resources. BRC plans to transfer ownership of the 88 acres to the NC Plant Conservation Program to be managed as part of the Preserve.
Funding for this multiyear project is made possible by a public/private partnership. Fred and Alice Stanback made a generous donation for this phase of the acquisition, which leveraged public funds from the NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund to complete the next phase. Once completed, the project will add 369 acres of permanently protected land to Tater Hill Bog.
About Blue Ridge Conservancy
BRC is a private, non-profit, non-governmental organization incorporated in North Carolina. BRC has protected over 19,450 acres in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey Counties. In addition to protecting working farmland, BRC’s efforts have resulted in the creation of state natural areas like Beech Creek Bog, Bear Paw State Natural Area and Bullhead Mountain. We continue to help Elk Knob State park expand its borders and established Pond Mountain Game Land in Ashe County. More information about Blue Ridge Conservancy is available at www.blueridgeconservancy.org.