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Elk Hollow Preserve Trail Work

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!

The group of 18 staff and volunteers gathered on a beautiful spring day, celebrating Earth Month with WNC for the Planet and making swift progress on trail maintenance at SAHC’s Elk Hollow Preserve. Volunteers worked on establishing a beautiful new section of  the Everett J. Bowman Trail, which is still under construction and slated for completion later this year. We are  proud of the progress being made at our Elk Hollow Preserve and hope that this trail will serve future generations to see the effects of land conservation first-hand!

Mike Craft and Greg Kramer volunteers

R to L: Mike Craft of New Belgium and Greg Kramer of TN Eastman Hiking & Canoeing Club/Rocky Fork Trail Crew

We are very grateful to the tireless members of the Rocky Fork Trail Crew for their assistance in organizing and leading this work day, and to all the volunteers who came out to help — including dedicated members of the TN Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club and employees of New Belgium Brewery.

Big Rock Creek Volunteer Work Day

On April 28, 2018, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and Nature Valley partnered with us for a volunteer work day at our Big Rock Creek Preserve, surrounded by national forest land and public recreation hotspots in the Highlands of Roan. In addition to the area’s rare habitats and unique species, SAHC’s Big Rock Creek Preserve – once the home of TrailRidge Mountain Camp — provides a great space for people to connect with protected conservation lands.  A total of 35 volunteers showed up for the work day and tackled a variety of tasks around the preserve to help better connect people with nature. The crew of volunteers represented programs from across the region, including Western Carolina University, East Tennessee State University, AmeriCorps Project Conserve, Conservation Trust for North Carolina, and Asheville Women Outdoors.

The volunteers broke into smaller groups to work on tasks, which included building a quarter mile loop trail, deconstructing an old camping platform, transplanting rhododendron, and seeding an open area with native grasses.  

Jeff Hunter of NPCA led one of the trail crews to clear and grade the first segment of the trail. Jeff has extensive experience in building trails and volunteers learned a lot by working with him.  

Building the trail was an eye opening experience, I have hiked on trails for years and years, but had no idea the amount of work and love that goes into making and maintaining them. Now, when I am looking at a trail I can identify the mineral soil, what is a good slope, and where water may end up pooling; all things I never would have noticed prior to the Big Rock Creek Workday.  It was definitely a Saturday well spent!” -Emily Adler

The trail crew also built two sets of steps and cleared fallen trees. By the end of the day, all major obstacles had been cleared from the trail, creating a strolling path for SAHC’s educational programs and guests to use to explore the property.

On another portion of the preserve, volunteers worked in the open area surrounding our new camping platform.  Volunteers cleared the area around the platform, then spread seeds and transplanted rhododendron along the border. We hope to see this area sprouting native grasses and wildflowers in the next few weeks.

In only 5 hours, all of the tasks were completed and everyone took a walk on the newly built trail together.  We shared stories about what led us to volunteer and reflected on the importance of environmental stewardship.  Thank you to everyone who participated or supported this work day. We couldn’t do it without you!

NPCA/Nature Valley Work Day

group-photo-with-almost-all-of-the-nature-valley-work-crewWe hosted another successful volunteer workday in the Highlands of Roan, made possible by a generous grant from the National Parks Conservation Association and Nature Valley. Funding from this partnership has helped us accomplish land stewardship projects over the past several years.

Organized by our AmeriCorps Project Conserve Stewardship Associates and Highlands of Roan Stewardship Director Marquette Crockett, 33 gracious volunteers gathered to get their hands dirty on our National Trails Tract. Read more

Alternative Fall Break — Emory Students and American Conservation Experience

groupshotWhen you think of a fall break from college, you might think of a ski trip, or going camping, or spending time with your family — but you probably wouldn’t think about doing volunteer work. The students of Emory University have different ideas. Over a September holiday weekend, they drove up from Atlanta to do just that. On Monday, Sept. 13th, SAHC welcomed 21 students to the Community Farm for an entire day of trail work and invasive plant removal. The students came from all grades and fields of study; including neuroscience, Arabic, and dance. Read more

Warren Wilson College students help out on our Community Farm

wwc_trailworkopen_march2014.jpgThe forecast said to expect a wintry mix on the first morning in March, as a group of Warren Wilson College (WWC) students prepared to come out to volunteer at the SAHC Community Farm in Alexander, NC. With temperatures not expected to reach 40 degrees, most college students would have burrowed back under the covers and asked for a rain check.

Not these folks. Under cloudy skies, they eagerly removed invasive plants and helped finish up sections of the 1 ½  mile nature trail. The group was a mix of students from the Forestry, Landscaping, and Recycling Crews at WWC. 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