Nature Conservancy Acquires 800 Acres in Ashe County, Property To Become Part of Bluff Mountain Preserve

Published Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Dec. 11, 2014. The Nature Conservancy has acquired 800 acres in Ashe County. The new property, which includes rare mountain bogs, will be added to the Conservancy’s Bluff Mountain Preserve.

“The New River Headwaters is an amazing place. It ranks as one of the most diverse and critically important biological hotspots in the Southern Appalachians. That’s why we are so pleased to be able to acquire such a sizeable tract,” said the Conservancy’s Southern Blue Ridge Program Director Megan Sutton. “Protecting this property gives us valuable habitat for federally threatened bog turtles and several rare plant species.”

The new acquisition grows the Bluff Preserve to 2,880 acres. The Conservancy began its work at Bluff Mountain in 1977, shortly after the creation of the North Carolina Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. The Conservancy has protected more than 8,000 acres in the New River Headwaters. Much of that property has been transferred to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation to become Elk Knob State Park; other Conservancy land has become part of the nearby Three Top Mountain State Game Lands.

Bluff and Three Top are part of a local mountain chain called the Amphibolites – named for the mineral rich rock found there. The rock is unusually rich in calcium and potassium, nourishing a wide array of plant species. More than 500 plant species are found on the Bluff Preserve. Many of the plants arrived during the last Ice Age and remain in the high peaks of the area thousands of years after the ice receded.

The bog turtle, which is the smallest North American turtle, is also found on the new property. In recent years, the Conservancy has spearheaded efforts to protect rare mountain bogs, which are home to a wide variety of wetland species. “The newly acquired bogs are in excellent shape,” said Southern Blue Ridge Stewardship Manager Adam Warwick. “It is rare to find bogs that look this good.”

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