SAHC and Highland Brewing Company partner for Habitat Restoration

5-work-crew-group-shotOn Saturday, June 2nd, eight Highland Brewing Company volunteers, two SAHC volunteers, and seven SAHC staff performed clean up work on Little Hump Mountain in the stunning Highlands of Roan. Our crew was lucky — the day started out overcast, but breezes swept away the clouds to reveal a panoramic backdrop, so we could enjoy gorgeous views during the work day. We focused on habitat management in this early-successional wildlife restoration project area, where SAHC had paid contractors in summer 2011 to create wildlife openings. Our team partners moved downed woody debris into piles to facilitate future management and provide cover for small mammals and other wildlife. Read more

Volunteer crew transforms exotic invasives into hand-wrought works of art

p5050015.jpgOn May 5, 2012, SAHC stewardship staff teamed up with a dedicated group of volunteers to remove exotic-invasive species from a beautiful mountain farmstead. The crew worked for a majority of the day cutting humongous invasive oriental bittersweet vines on SAHC’s newly-acquired Robinson Rough
property.

Robinson Rough is a 248-acre property near the Sandy Mush Township in northwestern Buncombe County, NC. 216 of these acres consist of steep, craggy forestland that continues all the way up to a high-elevation ridge that is visible from downtown Asheville. The lower 32 acres contain a series of rustic cabins and scenic open pastures. SAHC was able to purchase the Robinson Rough property in late-2011 with the help of an eager seller. Read more

The Bitter, and Not So Sweet, Story of Oriental Bittersweet in Western North Carolina

orientalbittersweet1.jpgOriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) is a deciduous, woody, perennial vine native to parts of Asia.  It was introduced as an attractive and hardy ornamental to the U.S. sometime between 100-200 years ago. It can now be found in many eastern states, but the area around Asheville, North Carolina might win the prize for today’s largest and most insidious bittersweet infestations, due to successful marketing by area nurseries in the early years of its introduction.

Oriental bittersweet is considered by many to be our region’s most problematic forest plant invader.   Read more

Garlic Mustard Pull n’ Eat Success!

jamie-pulling-garlic-mustard.jpgLast Saturday (April 7, 2012), our intrepid Stewardship staff held a volunteer workday on a piece of property SAHC owns in the Sandy Mush area of Buncombe County. The property is over 100 acres in size and almost entirely forested, with portions of lush, rich cove forest. Americorps Stewardship Associate Margot Wallston chronicled the experiences of the day:

“The month of April revealed a forest floor covered in a rich diversity of wild flowers. Unfortunately, the richness of the soil on the property also makes it susceptible to invasion by non-native, invasive species. Garlic mustard, multiflora rose, and oriental bittersweet are creeping in at an alarming rate — in fact, lately it seems like every week we observe a higher percentage of invasives.  That being said, this property is in a lot better shape than many other properties in the Sandy Mush Valley. That’s why we chose it as a target for volunteer help. It still has a fighting chance at serving as a preserve for biodiversity, especially if we invest time and energy into managing the invasives problem now. Read more

Invasive Species Awareness Week

Many of us 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.  Invasive, non-native plants reduce biodiversity, disrupt native plant-animal associations, and alter natural regimes and cycles (such as fire and hydrology).  Invasive species are said to impact nearly half of the species currently listed as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Federal Endangered Species Act.

Most of us are unaware of which plants are invasive and which are not, or the ways in which invasive plants like oriental bittersweet, multiflora rose and garlic mustard threaten our region’s biodiversity and natural heritage.  That is why Governor Beverly Perdue declared the first week of April as North Carolina’s Invasive Plant Awareness Week. Read more

Habitat Restoration Day on Little Hump Mountain

img_3157.jpgSAHC and a slew of volunteers spent a full day mowing, trimming, and cutting to create additional habitat for the rare and “near threatened” golden-winged warbler on Little Hump Mountain in the Highlands of Roan. The Golden-winged Warbler (GWW) is an early successional species that is dependent on a unique habitat consisting of sparse trees, shrubs, and abandoned fields. Unfortunately, the GWW’s habitat is rapidly disappearing, as old farmsteads and other early successional habitats are developing  back into forested land.

Under the leadership of SAHC’s seasonal ecologist, Chris Coxen, volunteers created additional habitat space for these incredible birds in the hopes to increase the number of nesting pairs next spring and summer on Little Hump Mountain. Read more

SAHC and Navitat Partner to Protect Water Quality

Hard at work!During the first week of May, staff from Navitat Canopy Adventures in Asheville volunteered with SAHC to install water bars on trails on a conservation easement.  The property, a 231-acre conservation easement protected by SAHC, is located within the Craggy Mountains in Barnardsville and  was protected in two phases. The first phase protected 197 acres and was completed in 2003. The second phase was completed in 2008 and protected 34 acres. Conservation of this property helps protect streams of the French Broad watershed from sedimentation and other pollutants. Read more

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and Equinox Environmental Partner for a River Clean-Up

Steve Melton removing tires from streamThe beautiful mountain streams and rivers of western NC and east TN are plagued with an illness brought on by humans – trash. Each year, river clean-up crews and conservation organizations spend countless hours to remove thousands of pounds of tires, old appliances, and even entire cars, from our waterways. Staff from the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and Equinox Environmental, an Asheville based consultation and design firm, partnered to contribute to this vast effort by removing 44 dumped tires and an old freezer from a stream on a property SAHC owns in Yancey County, NC on April 8th. Read more

SAHC Expands Habitat for Endangered Bat

The Virginia big-eared bat (Plecotus townsendii) is an endangered bat that only lives in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky. Virginia big-eared bats prefer caves in karst regions (areas underlain with limestone bedrock and many caves and sinkholes) dominated by oak/hickory or beech/maple/hemlock forest.

SAHC expanded the bat’s habitat in the Highlands of Roan with the recent purchase of the 136-acre Views at Cranberry tract, located within one half mile of the Cranberry Iron Mines tract on which the NC Wildlife Resources Commission holds a 200-acre conservation easement in order to protect this endangered creature. Read more

SAHC Takes Flight: Aerial Photographs of Some Protected Properties and Surrounding Areas

The Point at Lake Glenville Conservation EasementSouthWings, founded in 1996, is a conservation and public benefit aviation non-profit that provides skilled pilots and aerial education to enhance conservation efforts across the Southeast. These aerial photographs were taken from a SouthWings plane during an SAHC monitoring visit. Read more