The Trust for Public Land Acquires Tater Hill (NC)

Watauga County: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) today announced the acquisition of approximately 158 acres of land in Watauga County near the city of Boone. The property sits at the headwaters of the New River and is a sensitive high-elevation wetland — an extremely rare ecosystem that hosts threatened and endangered plant and animal species as well as a mountain bog. The 158 parcel of land is part of an 800-acre tract that has been a priority for preservation since 1986 when the State tried to purchase the land for a new state park.

“TPL is proud to partner with the High Country Conservancy, the State of North Carolina and Appalachian State University in protecting Tater Hill from certain development,” said Maggie Clancy project manager for TPL/North Carolina. “This land is a rare and precious treasure that is now protected for generations of North Carolinians to learn from and enjoy.”

The High Country Conservancy was established in 1997 to preserve land with significant biological, scenic, recreational and historic value in Watauga, Ashe, and Avery Counties. To date, the Conservancy has protected five tracts of land.

“The High Country Conservancy is committed to preserving the balance between development and conservation in the northern mountain counties,” says Michelle Merritt, president of the High Country Conservancy. “We are very excited to be involved in protecting Tater Hill not only for its natural splendor, but also for its value as an educational resource.”

Tater Hill lies within the amphibolite corridor of the northern peaks of North Carolina. Amphibolite is a rare form of metamorphic rock. The combination of amphibolite rock with the high-elevation wetlands constitutes a rare ecosystem and extremely unusual habitat. The property is known to host several threatened and endangered species of plants including Gray’s Lily. Wild rhododendron and mountain laurel are abundant on the property. The endangered Bog Turtle is also thought to inhabit the land along with substantial populations of deer, grouse, pheasant, fox, quail and rabbit.

The Trust for Public Land will hold the property until the spring of 200 when the conservation organization plans to convey it to the State of North Carolina. The Biology department of Appalachian State University will manage the site, conducting research on this unique ecosystem.

The Trust for Public Land is the only national conservation organization specifically established to conserve land for people. From vast wilderness to crowded cities, TPL helps connect America’s people to its special places.

Since its founding in 1972, TPL has worked with public agencies, landowners and citizen groups to protect more than 1.2 million acres in 45 states valued at over $1.8 billion, including:

  • parks, gardens, playgrounds, and greenways in urban neighborhoods and fast-growing communities, through our Green Cities Initiative
  • watershed lands that provide safe drinking water to millions
  • recreation lands and wilderness
  • scenic and historic places