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Warren Wilson College votes to establish four conservation easements

The easements, in partnership with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, will cover 600 acres of the campus.

A high shot overlooking green farmland, trees, and in the distance, mountains of Warren Wilson College campus.

The 600 acres cover both agricultural land and undeveloped mountain terrain.

Photo via Warren Wilson College

On-campus conservation. The Warren Wilson College Board of Trustees unanimously voted to establish four conservation easements with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC). The easements would cover 600 acres of farm + forest land in the Swannanoa Valley.

The 600-acre piece of land is the largest remaining privately held tract of farm and forest land in Buncombe County, and the college and SAHC have been discussing its conservation for decades. These easements would help preserve some of the area’s biodiversity, and according to the college, the land is essential for the new Master of Science in Applied Climates Studies, which was announced in February and will launch in the fall of 2025.

SAHC evaluates the conservation value of potential projects (looking at plot characteristics like types of habitats and water quality), and the SAHC Board will vote on final approval of the easements this summer. The establishment process could take as much as four years to complete, hinging on the procurement of grants and funding.

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