Volunteer group in front of Chestnut Mountain Nature Park entrance sign

Partnership Work Day with HRI

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.”

“We had a huge hemlock tree in our backyard in Transylvania County, and there were several trees  along the stream area where we would hike with our dogs,” Logan shares. “They made really good climbing trees. I can remember the day when my dad first told me about the hemlock wooly adelgid. I was about 9-11 years old. We were out hiking, and I’d noticed that the hemlock trees had started to die.”

In addition to the HRI staff, volunteers at the Chestnut Mountain work day included two other graduates from the environmental program Logan attended at UNC Asheville. “It’s exciting to see folks who’ve been through the same program working in the environmental field now,” he says.

“It’s important to protect the hemlock trees here because they help prevent erosion and are such a crucial  part of ecosystem flood water mitigation,” says Logan. “Since they are evergreens that thrive in riparian areas, hemlocks are some of the only trees taking up floodwater year-round. They also provide habitat for many species; their limbs come low to the ground, providing places for animals to den.”

The volunteer team treated hemlock along the mixed-use path up to Berm Park within Chestnut Mountain Nature Park. Logan adds, “It’s important to protect the native plants and trees on this property, so that they can thrive and continue to spread and persevere.”