Jack Fisher knew he wanted to create a riverside retreat mountain community where people would enjoy living and nature could flourish.
In making this vision a reality, he sought out 756 acres in Madison County, and spent about a year planning the layout of what would be called French Broad Crossing. “I like to walk over the entire property prior to commencing construction,” says the developer who purchased the land in the early 2000s.
Since the beginning, Jack has consulted landscape architect David Brannon on how to best protect the natural resources of the land. David has been responsible for the layout of the lots, roads, trails, amenities, conservation easement, and the overall theming of the project.
In 2004, 216 acres were placed in a conservation easement. “You can add land to the easement, but once land is in place in the easement, you can’t take it back out,” explains David. While there are seven home sites surrounded by land in the easement, no homes orstructures can be constructed on the conserved land.
“A conservation easement has restrictions that have been placed on the land to support biological and ecological diversity, protect the watershed, provide scenic value, and/or provide access to the public,” says David. The Southeast Regional Conservancy monitors these restrictions and performs annual reviews to ensure the property is in compliance. They also have the ability to accept new land into the easement and to make recommendations to enhance the easement’s purpose.
“What they look to do is protect land and perpetuity,” says David. “They really look to try to find pieces that are connected to waterways, like the French Broad River, or that are close or help connect to national forests or state forests or other existing conservation easements, because then it just provides larger habitats and corridors continuously to protect species and migratory birds and such.”
In this case, the easement land is close to a national forest. It also sits on a tributary that feeds into the French Broad River, so the restrictions help keep water clean.
For this particular easement, only hiking trails can be created on the land. The Elbow Hollow Trail is about four miles long and traverses the land and Elbow Hollow Conservation area. “We also knew that this would be a good area for trails because we could traverse the streams and we still have some living hemlocks,” explains Jack.
In addition to hemlocks, French Broad Crossing is home to a variety of species. “We’ve got over 252 different plant species on the property,” says David. “There are actually more native tree species within French Broad Crossing than there are in a total of tree species in all of Europe combined.” Seven plants are on the North Carolina Plant Watch List, such as Virginia snakeroot, bloodroot, and ill-scent trillium.
“There’s quite a bit of wildlife, from salamanders and snails to fox and bobcat, bear, deer, a whole host of birds, three kinds of woodpeckers,” says David. “The one thing on there that’s on the endangered species list is a rare butterfly called the regal fritillary.”
David adds, “(The easement) provides an undisturbed habitat for the wildlife, which ensures the resources remain abundant, primarily like food and cover. And that those resources are not taxed by users of the land. It also gives you a sense of comfort and confidence and fulfillment knowing you’ve done the right thing for the wildlife and the natural resources.”
David tells us that he sees a growing number of people enjoying what Mother Nature has provided. “They’re trying to get away from cell phones, and families are getting back out and enjoying hiking together to see the flora and fauna and wildlife that we’ve kind of taken for granted over the years.”
With the conservation easement, French Broad Crossing is taking steps to ensure beautiful and healthy land for visitors to enjoy forever.
To learn more about the living experience at French Broad Crossing or our other Preserve Community, The Preserve at Little Pine, please contact our sales office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 866-947-9629.