Hurray for Volunteers! At Cataloochee Ranch with Nature Valley & NPCA

cataloochee-nature-valley-work-day-023.jpg31 volunteers and staff rallied to help the Smokies on Saturday, July 28.  In a partnership with Nature Valley (the granola bar company) and the National Parks Conservation Association, several SAHC projects are underway at the protected Cataloochee Ranch (directly adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park) to improve animal habitat, plant life and water quality.

On Saturday under a clear sky with beautiful views of the Plott Balsams, Mt. Pisgah, and the Smokies, volunteers improved an eroded section of popular trail mere meters from the border of Great Smoky Mountains Park.  Fueled by camaraderie and an endless supply of Nature Valley granola bars, volunteers used shovels and trail tools to reshape a badly incised section of trail into a good slope to efficiently shed water instead of catching sediment and carrying it to the streams. Read more

Grassy Ridge Mow-off — Success!

img_3090.jpgA message from Roan Stewardship Director Judy Murray:

“I am happy to report that Grassy Mow-off 2012 was a rousing success!  What the 23 volunteers and our Field Ecologist Chris Coxen were able to accomplish far exceeded my expectations!  They re-treated three large areas, and were able to track their progress over time. 

A true labor of love for this treasured resource, and one that continues to go down in the record books and the grassy balds database. Read more

NC Outward Bound and SAHC team up for conservation management & community service

img_3792.jpgIn fair weather and foul, these young volunteers energetically persevered – sparking a great new partnership that pairs conservation management, education, and community service.

On June 26th and July 11th 2012, the SAHC Stewardship Team partnered with North Carolina Outward Bound volunteers to begin constructing a trail on a protected property in the Highlands of Roan. When completed, the trail will be a little over a mile long, and could be incorporated into SAHC’s outings program to help educate others about our conservation work. Read more

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

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

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

Students Volunteer for the Community and Conservation: Bonner Scholars Conduct Workday at Hampton Creek Cove State Natural Area

bonnerscholarshcc.jpgHampton Creek Cove State Natural Area (HCC), a 693-acre natural area protected since 1986 and co-managed by the State of Tennessee and SAHC, draws outdoor enthusiasts of all types to its beautiful, wild landscapes and streams that are important habitat for a variety of rare plant and animal species. The natural area is a special place of beauty for local residents and visitors, where they can find solace and relaxation hiking, birding, or enjoying the abundant wildflowers. HCC is home to one of the largest Golden-winged Warbler breeding grounds in the southern Appalachians and a self-sustaining brook trout population. Effective and active management is the key to preserving the ecological integrity of this area. This spring, the Bonner Scholars Program from Emory & Henry College in Emory, VA and Mars Hill College in Mars Hill, NC contributed to this effort for the second year in a row, organizing a team of thirty volunteer students for a full day of trail maintenance at HCC on Saturday, April 9th. 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