Wild Hogs invade the Highlands of Roan

hogs9Over the past year, SAHC’s Roan Stewardship Director, Marquette Crockett, has been talking to conservationists, wildlife agencies, landowners, and farmers about something deeply disturbing in the Highlands of Roan — the growing frequency of invasive wild hog damage.

“The hogs are causing noticeable damage to globally rare ecosystems, including grassy balds, and are spreading into private lands,”  said Marquette. “At our spring Roan Stewardship meeting, I was tasked with coordinating our efforts to learn more about these invasive animals and how we can control them.”

She’s been actively been coordinating with partners on a plan to address the problem, and has a lot of information to share (including  some tips about what to do if you come face to face with a bristly beast on the trail). Read more

“For Love of Beer and Mountains” partners care for Grassy Ridge

hike_crewOn a brisk fall morning in October, a boisterous group of SAHC and Highland Brewing Company staff (and guests) met at the corner of Roaring Creek Road and 19 East, eager and excited for the busy “For Love of Beer & Mountains” partnership work day ahead. The plan included removing invasive species and restoring habitat for Golden-winged Warblers (neo-tropical migratory songbirds that nest in the Highlands of Roan). Good company with cheery spirits, a gorgeous day on Grassy Ridge, and delicious food combined to create the recipe for a great workday! Read more

Raft Out the Trash!

GroupwithTrashOnTractWhere would we be without our volunteers and amazing AmeriCorps Project Conserve members? Our “Raft Out the Trash” event  earlier this year reflects a stellar example of how these team members’ incredible initiative, drive and dedication help us achieve conservation success.

Since protecting the Lost Cove tract in 2012, we at SAHC have heard over and over how much this special place resonates with people. Unfortunately, however, years of illegal use had marred the beauty of the cove – and left literally tons of trash strewn about. When our AmeriCorps Outreach & PR Associate, Anna Zanetti, first scouted a hike into Lost Cove, she was appalled by what she found and commenced to plan an ambitious volunteer excursion to take care of it.

Read more

Tales from the Bird House

leefarese_intern.jpgEarlier this year, we welcomed a series of interns and researchers to the cabin at our 601-acre Grassy Ridge tract in the Highlands of Roan, dubbed ‘the Bird House’ because of the ubiquitous winged wildlife in this rich upland habitat. Lee Farese, one of our first visitors to the cabin, spent several weeks observing and photographing the tract. He recently shared this account of his stay… Read more

Youth volunteers tackle stuborn invaders

groupwithrich.jpgThis fall, 6th and 7th grade boys from the French Broad River Academy (FBRA) volunteered to help heal a 45-acre conservation tract in the Sandy Mush area. They spent three days identifying invasive species and learning how to properly eradicate them without disturbing indigenous plants nearby.

Each morning, the boys arrived promptly at 9:30 am, ready to work hard weeding out the invasive plants. Kids and supervising adults split into three groups, and each group received a pair of loppers, hand clippers, rubber gloves, leather gloves, protective eye wear, a trash bag and a little bottle of herbicide that only adults could apply. Read more

AmeriCorps on Round Bald

2013-apc-round-bald-work-day-24.jpgSAHC was pleased to host a group of sixteen volunteers from AmeriCorps Project Conserve (APC) on Round Bald within the Highlands of Roan. For the last three years, SAHC has partnered with APC to get members out on the Roan’s grassy balds to complete a variety of habitat restoration projects.

This year, APC members used hand tools to cut back woody plants from the interior of the grassy bald on Round Bald. Without management, the small herbaceous plants, sedges and grasses that characterize grassy bald habitat will be eventually overgrown by woody plants. This is a natural process called “forest succession;” however in this case, it is important to keep succession in check because grassy balds are a globally imperiled habitat type. Grassy balds offer a home to rare endemic plants and high elevation grassland wildlife species – a home that will slowly be lost without the help of volunteers like those from APC. Read more

Nature Valley/NPCA/SAHC partner in Highlands of Roan

naturevalleygroup.jpg“All good things are wild and free”  – Henry David Thoreau

The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy began some forty years ago with a mission to protect the Highlands of Roan. We don’t have a lot of places left that make us feel “wild and free” anymore, at least not in the way Thoreau implied. While we have constructed ways and means to feel these ideals, arguably none of them are as effective, or human, as standing atop an undeveloped landscape. The Roan is certainly wild and free, but only because of the hard work and care that so many people have contributed. Unfortunately we aren’t done yet. As long as we still face threats to our wild places, good people will keep working. SAHC is lucky enough to count many of these willing people among our ranks.

On Saturday October 19th, SAHC hosted a volunteer work day on our Grassy Ridge property within the Highlands of Roan. The day was a culmination of work sponsored through a grant from National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), who has partnered with Nature Valley to fund projects that benefit National Parks around America. Nature Valley also partnered with National Geographic travel journalist Andrew Evans to help document the importance of our project. Read more

Local Crews Building Trails at Our Community Farm

trailwork-uphill.jpgIt was hot – probably the first really hot day since an early summer monsoon season drenched Western North Carolina, and the ticks were already out in full force. But that didn’t stop the work crew from Green Opportunities (GO) as they rigorously tackled trail building at the SAHC Community Farm.

As part of our multi-faceted Farm and Food Project, the completed trail will eventually loop approximately 1.5 – 2 miles across the 100-acre farm property. Our interpretive signs will educate visitors about the farm and our short leaf pine and stream restoration projects. We have partnered with GO to continue the trail building project begun by AmeriCorps volunteers in March. Read more

Reflecting on Spring and Stewardship at SAHC

035.jpgby Margot Wallston, SAHC AmeriCorps Stewardship Associate — July 2013

One of my favorite things about working in land conservation during the spring is being able to take note of the persistent emergence of botanical life after winter’s long repose. Hiking off-trail to monitor remote pieces of land affords the opportunity to witness the first signs of spring: new stems pushing up through the ground, swelling leaf buds, the first hints of color as flower petals begin to open.  It’s fun to guess what identity each new plant will take on: Will a red, clenched hand atop a fuzzy stem become false goats beard? Will a blue-purple fan of soft baby leaves become blue cohosh?

I’m not alone in relishing in this annual event.  Many people look forward to spring’s arrival as the best time to watch the forest reawaken after winter as wildflowers gradually begin to bloom.  But spring also stirs to life a host of invasive, non-native plants which compete with our native wildflowers and trees for essential resources.  One of the first invasive plants to pop up amidst our native spring ephemerals is garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata). Read more

Partners Continue Service Project Successes

2012-go-round-bald_-28_blog.jpgThis fall, SAHC continued two great volunteer management partnerships on the Roan. Asheville Green Opportunities and AmeriCorps Project conserve came out for two separate management days, restoring grassy bald habitat on the western slope of Round Bald. It is always rewarding to bring young volunteers to a beautiful place they have not been before, especially when their work can build a sense of connection to the land. It affords us the chance to look at the Roan and its vistas with new eyes and underlines the importance of SAHC’s protection efforts. Read more