By Jesse Wood
Nov. 26, 2014. Seventy acres atop Howard’s Knob is on the market for nearly $3.8 million.
Included in the 70 acres that are up for sale are some of the legendary climbing boulders on top of the mountain and the owner, according to his realtor, is amenable to parceling out land toward the backside of the mountain, which includes the main climbing area that was a hotspot in the late “80s and early “90s.
John Schoo of Blowing Rock Realty said that the owner, Monte Green of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., put the property on the market in late August. Greene’s property includes dozens of tiny parcels and a 49-acre parcel that features a 4,328-square-foot residence. Schoo said land in direct proximity to and below the home at 530 Howard’s Knob Rd. will not be parceled out.
“Anything to the left of the park would be in the area that he would sell off separate,” Schoo said, who added that interest in the property has been “normal for this time of year.”
The property adjoins the county-owned park atop Howard’s Knob.
The property that features the boulders has been coveted for conservation for about three decades. Shortly after Green purchased the property in 1993, the property was to be developed until local activists stepped in. Remember the “Pave Save the Knob” bumper stickers? After bulldozers threatened the privately-owned boulders, hundreds of people protested on King Street, and several activists even scaled trees as a last resort to stop the demolition of the beloved boulders, which were featured in the classic book, Stone Crusade: A Historical Guide To Bouldering in America.
Then two local climbers – Joey Henson and Jeffrey Scott – formed the Watauga Land Trust, which morphed into the High Country Land Conservancy and later merged with the Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust in 2010 to become the Blue Ridge Conservancy, in an attempt to raise money to buy the property and protect it from development.
While plenty of money was raised through various means including the Hound Ears Bouldering Competition to purchase the property, it was never meant to be. But luckily, for climbers, the boulders were never demolished. Now, folks in the outdoor community are cautiously optimistic that a deal can be struck to purchase some of the property atop Howard’s Knob.
Schoo mentioned that he has talked with people in the climbing, conservation and trail communities about the property being on the market. Schoo said he has talked with organizers of the Boone United Trail, which opened in May and connects Boone United Methodist Church off of New Market Boulevard to halfway up the summit of Howard”s Knob.
Also, the Town of Boone has some interest in the property. Mayor Andy Ball confirmed that the council met in closed session to discuss negotiation prices for land on Howard’s Knob. Ball, though, wouldn”t disclose the exact location of the parcel. “When and if the town and other party agree to terms, the location and terms will be released,” Ball said in an email.
Eric Heigl of the Blue Ridge Conservancy noted that the Blue Ridge Conservancy has had “initial discussions” with Schoo about the property.
Both Heigl and Schoo noted, however, that the process is still in the early stages, too early to tell exactly how all of this will play out.