Thank you to East Tennessee State University’s Service Learning Program for volunteering to assist with land management at SAHC’s Bird House Preserve in the Highlands of Roan. Student volunteers helped remove old structures and continued Golden-winged Warbler habitat management on the property. In the process we salvaged roughly 50 black locust posts that will be used for future trail maintenance.
We are working with Pisgah and Cherokee National Forests, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), and Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club (TEHCC) to address recreational impacts in and around Carver’s Gap and Grassy Ridge. This area, with easy access to stunning scenic views along the Appalachian Trail, has experienced significant increases in visitation. We joined these partners for two work days this summer, to repair and restore a section of the trail going up Jane Bald. In addition, new signage and interpretative materials are planned for 2020.
Over the course of the summer, Roan Naturalist Sarah Jones interacted with more than 8,500 people on the Appalachian Trail. Sarah taught visitors about the ecology of the Roan Highlands and the role that SAHC and other partners play in protecting the landscape. She shared Leave No Trace ethics and provided support for hikers of all levels. We are very appreciative to our friends at the ATC and the TEHCC for their support of this position.
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
Grassland birds are in trouble. As the grassland habitat needed for nesting and rearing their young continues to disappear, birds such as the Eastern Meadowlark, Grasshopper Sparrow, Dickcissel, and Bobolink found here in the Southeast are declining in numbers. So what can we do to help? Well, the good news is that the agricultural grasslands found throughout this region, such as hayfields, can provide the habitat these birds need to thrive with some simple management practices..
Ideally, hayfields should be mowed outside of the nesting season, which generally occurs from April to August. This prevents nests from being destroyed and ensures fledged young are developed enough to fly away. However, for economic reasons mowing often needs to occur during this period. If this is the case for you, consider implementing some or all of the following practices to contribute to the protection of birds and other wildlife who utilize this grassland habitat:
Practice rotational mowing. Maintain unmowed patches for wildlife habitat between areas being mowed and rotate which sections are mowed and unmowed each year. The size of mowed/unmowed sections should be determined based on your needs and field size, but remember that larger unmowed areas provide more wildlife habitat! For more info check out page 5 of this USDA leaflet:
Aim high! Set your mower as high as possible. However, even 4-8” off the ground can help save the lives of many grassland birds and other wildlife.
Leave uncut border fields. To allow for sufficient bird and wildlife cover allow a 10+ foot strip of hay to remain on the border of the field. This provides food along with nesting, escape, and brood cover. A wider border leads to less predation of nests.
Mow from the inside out. By mowing from the field center outward you can provide cover for birds as they escape to the edges of the field and prevent them from getting trapped in the center of the field during mowing.
Reduce mowing speed. This practice aids in giving birds the time to react and escape during a hay harvest.
Avoid night mowing. Birds are less likely to try to escape from the area being mowed during the night.
Use a flushing bar. This horizontal bar, attached in front of the blades of harvesting equipment, has chains that hang down and drag through the field to scare wildlife away from danger. This primarily helps to protect adult birds.
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
This Spring, we used a prescribed (controlled) burn of 13 acres to help manage our shortleaf pine reforestation project at our Community Farm.
This prescribed burn will help restore the shortleaf pine by removing undesirable, competing plant species and giving the slower-growing shortleaf pine a chance to re-establish. Shortleaf pine is a fire-dependent and fire tolerant species, meaning that the species actually depends on fire in order to reproduce and thrive. 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
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