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Nearly 1,700 acres protected in southern Blue Ridge Mountains of NC and Tennessee

Grandfather Mountain, Snake Mountain and Elk Knob in North Carolina can be seen from a 1,680-tract that’s now protected in North Carolina and Tennessee.
Grandfather Mountain, Snake Mountain and Elk Knob in North Carolina can be seen from a 1,680-tract that’s now protected in North Carolina and Tennessee.

The Conservation Fund said Thursday that 1,680 acres of high-elevation ridges and headwaters have been protected in the southern Blue Ridge Mountains.

The Fund, which is a national group, partnered with the U.S. Forest Service and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission on the acquisition, which is in both North Carolina and Tennessee. Funding came from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The acquired land, known as Cut Laurel Gap, connects more than 127,000 acres of public lands from Cherokee National Forest to Mount Rogers National Recreation Area in Virginia.

Some of the region’s highest mountains can be seen from its peaks, including Snake Mountain, Elk Knob and Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. Mount Rogers and Whitetop in Tennessee are visible.

The property includes stream habitat for native brook trout and will be eventually opened to the public for fishing and for hunting of ruffed grouse, turkey, white-tailed deer and black bear.

The Conservation Fund bought the property in 2013 and transferred 586 acres to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission with a grant from the state Clean Water Management Trust Fund.

The final acreage was conveyed this month to the U.S. Forest Service with funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Private contributions came from Fred and Alice Stanback of Salisbury and Trout Unlimited.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051, @bhender

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