Students from Mars Hill University and Warren Wilson College joined us this spring for a Golden-winged Warbler habitat management workday and camping trip along the Appalachian Trail in the Highlands of Roan.
The energetic volunteers cleared downed tree limbs and lopped saplings to create ideal breeding ground for this threatened species of neo-tropical migratory songbirds. Read more
In Spring 2019, the Southern Appalachian Golden-winged Warbler Working Group, consisting of more than 10 agencies and organizations, met in the Roan Highlands to discuss landscape-scale conservation measures, including strategic land protection and cooperative management projects. SAHC was proud to host the group on our preserves and to assist with touring iconic public lands across the Roan. Read more
Our Elk Hollow Preserve Volunteer Work Day in April was a success, thanks to an incredible group of folks who joined us in building trails, friendships, and partnerships! Read more
We are entering the fifth year of coordinated efforts to manage invasive feral hogs in the Highlands of Roan. These invasive feral hogs damage the fragile, globally important ecosystems of the Roan as they “root,” eating rare species and tearing up the terrain. They also spread multiple diseases and pose a safety threat to outdoor recreation enthusiasts.
In November, the Feral Hog Working Group, part of our ongoing collaborative Roan Stewardship efforts, met at the SAHC office to discuss updates and plan future work.
“Since feral hogs can have devastating impacts on plants and wildlife, as well as human and livestock health, the situation requires coordinating a broad group of partners,” explains Marquette Crockett, SAHC’s Roan Stewardship Director. “This includes federal and state agencies in both NC and TN.” Read more
We have transferred 324 acres on the TN slopes of Hump Mountain to the Cherokee National Forest in the Highlands of Roan, the upper edge of the property extends just 500 ft from the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT). Nearby, the AT passes across the grassy balds atop Hump Mountain, affording hikers breathtaking 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape.
“This is an outstanding example of how federal, state and private partners can work together to achieve common goals,”said JaSal Morris, Forest Supervisor, Cherokee National Forest. “The purchase is a great addition, not only to the Cherokee National Forest land base, but to the entire National Forest System. It will be managed for protection of its exceptional natural resources and the public’s enjoyment of its scenic beauty.”Read more
Former AmeriCorps service member Travis Bordley stepped into our Roan Naturalist boots this summer. Travis spent the majority of his time from May to August on the Appalachian Trail between Carvers Gap and 19 E, recording data, educating hikers, and helping manage negative impacts to the Roan’s fragile, globally important ecosystems.
In total, he observed over 12,600 hikers in the Roan, and had interpretive, educational discussions with more than 4,000 people.
“There were days where I couldn’t believe my eyes at the steady stream of people pouring onto the trail,” says Travis. “These moments made me fear for the sensitive habitat in the area. There were also slow days when visitor usage was low, and I was able to genuinely connect with people.” Read more
Grassy Balds Management gets a Tech Update
Ilan Bubb interned with us this summer through the Duke University Stanback Intern program. He is earning his Masters of Environmental Management at the Nicholas School of the Environment.
Ilan did a “needs assessment” and GIS modeling project to assist with an update to the Environmental Assessment for grassy balds management in the Highlands of Roan. The Environmental Assessment is a plan which has helped guide stewardship efforts in the Roan for decades. He ground-truthed both restoration and maintenance targets in this plan. He visited GPS-referenced points within the Roan landscape and photographed each area so we can evaluate the effectiveness of stewardship efforts.
In addition, Ilan assisted with volunteer workdays, including our annual Grassy Ridge Mow-Off, to help manage the Roan’s precious ecosystems.
In the Highlands of Roan, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy convenes a multi-partner effort to manage the world’s largest stretch of Appalachian grassy balds. These unique ecosystems contain a variety of rare plants.
SAHC volunteers and our partners with the NC BRIDGE program contributed more than 1,900 hours to manage habitat on Roan’s grassy balds this summer. Altogether, Roan stewardship partners managed a record 32 acres. Volunteers and BRIDGE partners hand-mowed more than 17 acres from Round Bald to Grassy Ridge, cutting back blackberry and shrubs across the balds. The US Forest Service mechanically mowed 15 acres on Hump Mountain.
The BRIDGE crew are hardworking stewardship partners. A program of the NC Division of Prisons the NC Division of Forest Resources to train young, non-violent offenders with firefighting and forestry skills, BRIDGE stands for “BUILDING, REHABILITATING, INSTRUCTING, DEVELOPING, GROWING, EMPLOYING.
Our Roan stewardship work is supported by grants from the National Forest Foundation, McLendon Family Foundation and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
Thank you to all the volunteers, partners, and supporters who make this work possible!
This summer we purchased 234 acres in the Highlands of Roan, securing high elevation wildlife habitat and permanently protecting a corridor linking our Tompkins Preserve with Pisgah National Forest in Mitchell County. This acquisition at Yellow Spot protects rare plant and animal habitat, wildlife corridors, scenic views, and sources of clean water along an important high elevation ridgeline.
“This property contains a remarkable combination of features that have made it a conservation priority for decades,” explains Marquette Crockett, SAHC’s Roan Stewardship Director. “We conserve some properties to preserve exceptional water quality and native trout habitat and we protect others because they contain rare, high elevation open areas or exceptional forest habitat – but Yellow Spot has everything. It’s a microcosm of the Roan Highlands. SAHC’s acquisition of this tract secures a perfect puzzle piece, surrounded by National Forest and protecting the main spine of the Roan Massif.” Read more
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372 Merrimon Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801