The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy recently purchased 51 acres near the Appalachian Trail in the Highlands of Roan in Mitchell County.

The acquisition will help protect the vulnerable spruce-fir forest ecosystem, birds and other wildlife, as well as views from the area.

The Haw Orchard Ridge property adjoins Pisgah National Forest, rising to more than 5,400 ft. just south of Roan High Knob.

It is visible from the Appalachian Trail at Round Bald and Grassy Ridge Bald.

Marquette Crockett, SAHC’s Roan Stewardship Director, says the Haw Orchard Ridge protects a portion of the well-known red spruce-Fraser fir stand, which stretches from Roan High Knob to Carvers Gap.

The total cost was $192,000, purchased with funds from Salisbury conservationists Fred and Alice Stanback and the Conservation Trust for North Carolina. The land trust also received a $20,000 grant from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative for habitat management.

According to the Conservancy, the Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forests are the second most endangered ecosystem in the country.