Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and our partners at the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC) Division of Natural Areas have announced the completion of new bridges and other updates […]
Our Highlands of Roan stewardship team is gearing up for a busy summer of active land management and education in this one-of-a-kind, ecologically important area. We encourage you to find out more about the challenges faced by SAHC and our partners as the Carvers Gap and grassy balds have exploded in popularity, and explore alternate places in the Roan for outdoor recreation — including updated trails at Hampton Creek Cove State Natural Area. Read more
On a chilly March morning, the beloved SAHC Community farm was graced by the assistance of ten students from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville embarking on an alternative Spring […]
Have you ever stood atop a gorgeous summit and wondered what you are viewing? New “peakfinder” signs on Round Bald in the Highlands of Roan will help hikers learn more about the surrounding summits and landscape. The Roan Massif straddles the border between TN and NC, so one sign provides info on the view into North Carolina while the other tells you what you’re seeing in Tennessee.
“The purpose of this project was to install two peakfinder maps, one on each side of the Appalachian Trail to help orient visitors and give them a “destination”, hopefully preventing further damage to the globally rare grassy balds,” says Roan Stewardship Director Marquette Crockett. “In addition, we hoped to repair, shorten, and formalize two short social trails to reduce off trail damage.” Read more
We are deeply grateful to SAHC member Bob Detjen for making a heroically generous contribution this year to help us catalyze more opportunities for young people to develop conservation- related jobs and careers in the southern Appalachians.
“SAHC is using this gift strategically to recruit additional AmeriCorps members and interns from other places to Asheville to begin their conservation careers, and to realign existing staff to train and supervise them,” says Executive Director Carl Silverstein. “Bob’s visionary insight and remarkable generosity is increasing our capacity to offer young people opportunities to work with SAHC and link them with potential job paths in conservation-related fields.” Read more
Welcome to our 2022-23 AmeriCorps Project Conserve Service Members!
AmeriCorps Stewardship & Volunteer Members
David Hagler. David has strong land trust experience having previously interned with Davidson Lands Conservancy and Lowcountry Land Trust. While a student at Davidson College, he helped with the day-to-day farm operations at Davidson Farm. In his free time, David plays clawhammer banjo and old-time music. David is passionate about the outdoors, community service, and working in WNC.
Corinna Mokotoff. A graduate from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, Corinna is a wilderness first responder and has spent several years performing forestry and other natural resource management work. She previously served with AmeriCorps in Colorado with the Southwest Conservation Corps. Corinna loves to engage with her community in a variety of ways, enjoys spending time outdoors, and is an avid mountain biker.
Leigh Johnson Schafer. Leigh hails from Asheville and is a graduate from Haywood Community College’s Fish & Wildlife Management Technology Program. She has been attending Oregon State University in pursuit of her Bachelors of Science Degree. She has considerable forestry and field work experience working for AmeriCorps programs through the Nevada Conservation Corps and the Camas National Wildlife Refuge in Idaho. Leigh is looking forward to completing her third AmeriCorps term in WNC, where her love of the environment first took root.
Community Engagement & Education Member
Emily Starnes. A NC native, Emily spent much of her childhood exploring Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is a graduate of Appalachian State University where she obtained a history degree and a minor in Appalachian Studies. Emily is also a Certified Nurse Assistant and most recently worked at Yosemite National Park. She cares deeply about affordable housing and is interested in addressing the barriers that keep people from accessing the outdoors.
AmeriCorps, a federal agency, brings people together to tackle the country’s most pressing challenges, through national service and volunteering. AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers serve with organizations dedicated to the improvement of communities. AmeriCorps helps make service to others a cornerstone of our national culture. Learn more at AmeriCorps.gov.
Project Conserve is administered by Conserving Carolina and funded by an AmeriCorps grant from the North Carolina Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service in the office of Governor Roy Cooper, and the critical support of our host sites and community partners.
Formed by a tight cluster of mountains straddling the NC and TN border, the Roan Massif (also known as the Highlands of Roan), requires commitment and coordination between federal and state agencies, widespread organizations, local clubs and landowners, and passionate volunteers. SAHC’s Roan Stewardship Director Marquette Crockett leads partnership efforts in long-term management of this treasured place.
We hosted a successful -return to- group volunteer work this summer, with events including the annual Grassy Ridge Mow-Off, NC Bridge Crew work, and the inaugural Round Bald Rubus Round-Up, all of which focused on controlling blackberry and other woody encroachment into Appalachian grassy bald habitat that supports globally rare plants and endemic species.
“Thank you to our amazing SAHC volunteers who restored over 18 acres of Appalachian grass balds this summer,” says Roan Stewardship Director Marquette Crockett. “This work was supported by grant funding from our partners at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the National Forest Foundation, and we are very grateful for their support.”
SAHC and our partners at Appalachian Trail Conservancy, U.S. Forest Service, and the Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club continued to host a seasonal Roan Naturalist along the Appalachian Trail this summer. This year’s Roan Naturalist, Thomas Hatling, hiked back and forth across the stretch of the AT across the Roan to meet and educate hikers about the importance of Leave No Trace principles and the unique and fragile nature of the ecosystems found here. He also assisted with Roan management throughout the summer.
Gray’s Lily Monitoring
Early this year, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy staff and volunteers joined partners in the Highlands of Roan for training by Dr. Matt Estep and Ben Brewer of Appalachian State University in how to monitor Gray’ lily for lily leaf spot disease.
Gray’s lily is a rare wildflower endemic to the region which grows only at high mountain elevations and blooms in meadows, bogs, and forests in early summer. This rare – and striking – red flower was first identified by and named for prominent botanist Asa Gray. Over the past several years, Gray’s lily populations have been suffering from lily leaf spot, a fungal disease that may be spread by contact. Lily leaf spot disease kills juveniles and reduces reproduction in adults, creating a grim forecast for the future of these beautiful blooms. We look forward to gathering data this fall to see how the plants monitored this year have fared; teams will re-survey the Roan to look at long-term viability.
Birdathon – Thank YOU!
We extend enormous gratitude to our partners at Blue Ridge Audubon Chapter and to all the Birdathon 2022 participants for raising over $15,000 for restoring and managing bird habitat. This year’s Birdathon supports SAHC’s efforts in managing habitat for Golden-winged Warblers in the Highlands of Roan. The Golden-winged Warbler is a neotropical migratory songbird with populations in sharp decline, particularly suffering from loss of habitat. SAHC has been protecting and managing habitat in the Roan Highlands for more than 10 years to support Golden-winged Warblers along with associated species. The Birdathon contribution will help expand these efforts in the Roaring Creek Valley.
“We are looking forward to using these funds to manage habitat for Golden-winged Warblers in Roaring Creek this fall, and to surveying the results next spring” says Marquette. “Thank you for raising this generous contribution to support SAHC’s habitat management and restoration work for this climate sensitive species.”
Perspective: Roan Naturalist Thomas Hatling
Serving as the Roan Naturalist not only enabled me to spend the summer working in one of the world’s most gorgeous settings, it gave me the opportunity to help inform people about the importance of mitigating human impacts on the fragile ecosystems of the Roan. Through lack of awareness about the importance and fragility of the grassy summits, visitors may inadvertently cause negative impacts on Roan, despite feeling an innate love for the mountain. The Roan Naturalist position lets people know about the rare plants and animals of the Roan Highlands and how to reduce our impacts as visitors, answer people’s questions, and create signage in problem areas to encourage visitors to Leave No Trace. .
This summer I spoke to thousands of visitors about Leave No Trace principles. This is key to helping the rare plants and animals of the Roan thrive. Leave No Trace boils down to these straightforward principles:
- Plan ahead and prepare.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
- Dispose of waste properly.
- Leave what you find.
- Minimize campfire impacts
(be careful with fire).
- Respect wildlife.
- Be considerate of other visitors.
I encourage everyone who enjoys the outdoors to remember these core principles and always put them into practice! A key part of enjoying the outdoors is respecting the environment around you and saving that beauty for others and generations to come.
Former AmeriCorps member Logan Dye participated in a volunteer work day sponsored by Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and Hemlock Restoration Initiative (HRI) at the Chestnut Mountain Nature Park, treating native hemlock trees to protect them from the hemlock wooly adelgid.
“It was fun to see my colleagues from HRI,” says Logan. “I think my favorite thing about having done a term of AmeriCorps service with HRI is that hemlocks have been my favorite trees since childhood, and it was exciting to be able to work to protect a species that I particularly love. Serving with HRI was my first experience out of undergrad and definitely helped develop my path in the environmental field. The experience helped set me up for the position with SAHC.” Read more
The mission of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy is to conserve the unique plant and animal habitat, clean water, farmland, scenic beauty, and places for all people to enjoy outdoor recreation in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, enduring for future generations. We achieve this through long-term conservation relationships with private landowners and public agencies and owning and managing land. We are committed to creating and supporting equitable, healthy and thriving communities for everyone in our region.
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372 Merrimon Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801