Category Archives: ***Top Stories***

South Carolina Buys Sassafras Summit

The Carolina Channel reports the South Carolina Natural Resources Department has bought two acres at the top of Sassafras Mountain from Duke Energy for $50,000 earlier this month. SC land next to Sassafras’ peak was protected seven years ago in the landmark Jocassee Gorges agreement that protected 32,000 acres. But the top of Sassafras was left out of the $21 million deal. Utility officials said the peak was not included because of surveying questions that have since been cleared up.

There had been several articles recently expressing concern about future of the highpoint and efforts by a developer on the North Carolina side to buy surrounding property.

Group Seeks Black Mountain Trail as Huge ATV Park Opens

The New York Times devoted nearly a page its Automobile section in its Dec. 17, 2004, issue for photos, maps, and reports that a group of ATV riders is pushing for a trail from Evarts to the Black Mountain summit.

Preston McLain, president of the Harlan County Ridgerunners is quoted as saying, “You’ll be able to ride from Evarts to the highest point in the state. That’s the goal. And the ride is free. That’s the way the county wants it. Say it’s to promote tourism.”
The article notes that Harlan County has become a destination for ATV riders. Harlan County is in the process of establishing a huge ATV Park. The off-road park won’t officially open until June, timed to the annual Poke Salad Festival, but local groups are already working to prepare the land. The Ridge Runners share the property with the Kentucky Mountain Crawlers, a local rock-crawling club, and both groups spend weekends clearing brush, christening trails and excavating the ancient mining and logging roads that hug the narrow ridges. In the spring the county leased a 7,000-acre parcel of land from a mining company and it plans to turn it into an off-road park. By next year the county hopes to secure another 30,000 acres, giving it the potential for a 280-mile trail