CRESTON — The Nature Conservancy added 97 acres to its Bluff Mountain Preserve in a land transfer dated Feb. 1, according to the Ashe County Register of Deeds Office and North Carolina Nature Conservancy officials.
According to Fred Annand, Nature Conservancy Director of Conservation Resources for North Carolina, the nonprofit’s 97.08 acre acquisition brings its Bluff Mountain Preserve lands to about 3,900 total acres of conserved forest south of Three Top Mountain in Creston.
“It really is a wonderful addition to the Bluff Mountain Preserve,” Annand said in a phone call. “In spite of its size, it’s a very important property with a long list of plants and plant communities associated with it — a biologist recorded about 230 species of plants on this tract alone, which is an amazingly high number for the acreage.”
Included on that list of 230 species surveyed in the newly acquired Nature Conservancy land is a population of the Long-bracted Frog Orchid, a rarely found plant in the North Carolina mountains that is listed as “critically imperiled” by the state, according to Annand.
“The property reaches an elevation of about 4,500 feet, and at that elevation there are rocky outcrops which tend to harbor any number of unusual species of plants,” Annand said. “The property also has a wonderful example of a Northern Red Oak cove forest.”
Funded largely through private donors, the conservancy prioritized the land, formerly owned by heirs of the Perkins family, on its to-purchase list for several years, according to Annand. The land was bought for about $1,503 per acre — a price Annand said was due to the landlocked nature of the property, with lack of public road access lowering the market value of the acreage.
Currently, The Nature Conservancy has no formal plans to bring visitors to the newly acquired property, but the organization does offer organized field trips between May and October for those interested in seeing Bluff Mountain Nature Preserve firsthand, according to Annand.
For more information about The Nature Conservancy and its Bluff Mountain Preserve, go online to https://www.nature.org/en-us/get-involved/how-to-help/places-we-protect/bluff-mountain-preserve/.