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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!

Asheville Greenworks’ Water Bar Workday

This summer, we partnered with Asheville Greenworks’ Youth Environmental Leadership Program (YELP) for a service day on our Robinson Rough property in Sandy Mush. The youth volunteers created water bars to prevent erosion and protect water quality.

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OM Sanctuary Clean-Up

SAHC staff recently had the rare opportunity to work on protected conservation land inside the City of Asheville boundary. Stewardship Associate Sarah Sheeran, AmeriCorps member Anona Miller, and intern Leigh Bost teamed up with a youth group from the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly of Black Mountain to clean up trash on a portion of the Oshun Mountain (OM) Sanctuary property on Richmond Hill. Read more

Waynesville First United Methodist Church Volunteers at Doubleside Knob

On Saturday June 3rd, ten members from Waynesville’s First United Methodist Church came out to our Doubleside Knob conservation property to help removed invasive Oriental Bittersweet vines.

This tract is located within SAHC’s French Broad River Valley Conservation Focus Area. The heart of this area is the French Broad River, which is believed to be the third oldest river in the world — even pre-dating the ancient Appalachian Mountains. Our efforts to protect land in this area contribute to clean streams and rivers. Properties like Doubleside Knob are often adjacent to or contain headwater streams, and protecting the land helps protect these clean water sources.

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Mars Hill University students manage habitat in the Roan

Near the end of their Spring semester, a group of dedicated Mars Hill University (MHU) students spent a Saturday volunteering for “the good of a bird that can fit in the palm of your hand,” according to workday organizer Travis Bordley, SAHC’s Roan AmeriCorps member.

Led by Professor Laura Boggess, the thirteen student volunteers helped manage habitat for Golden-winged Warblers (GWWA) along the Appalachian Trail in the Highlands of Roan. The workday was supported with a license plate grant from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC).

“With the support from Laura and the ATC, the volunteer engagement for this workday was at an all time high,” said Travis. “Now THAT is the kind of hustle we like to see from the future leaders of conservation in our landscape.” Read more

Crossnore Boy Scout Troop 814 Volunteer Workday

Ellis Ayers, the Committee Chair for Boy Scout Troop 814 out of Crossnore, NC, heard about our conservation work ‘through the grapevine’ and recognized a great opportunity for his scouts to do local land stewardship.

“I never had the pleasure of being a Boy Scout growing up,” said Travis Bordley, SAHC’s Roan AmeriCorps members. “That explains some odd holes in my outdoor education and training — and was one of many reasons why I was delighted to team up with Boy Scout Troop 814 out of Crossnore NC on behalf of Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.” Read more

UNCA Environmental Studies Student Workday

One of the most fascinating qualities of the Roan Highlands is the complex bio-diversity of the region. High elevation grassy balds colliding with shrubs, spruce-fir and hardwood forests is a potent mix. In the Roan you can find 25 globally rare ecological communities, as declared by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and 5 federally endangered species. This is a major reason why we value the Roan and do close monitoring of exotic invasive species.

Exotic invasive species in the Roan Highlands are a threat to the bio-diversity of the region. So when Oriental bittersweet was found at our Grassy Ridge property, we enlisted the help of UNC-Asheville Environmental Studies majors who understood the seriousness of this threat.

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FBRA Girls Volunteer at Community Farm

We welcomed the French Broad River Academy Girls for a volunteer work day on our Community Farm on March 2. The middle school students explored the farm on an educational hike led by Chris Link, our Community Farm and Food Associate. Then they volunteered in the vegetable production area, doing bed preparation to transition from the winter to spring growing season. The girls volunteered in the greenhouses, caterpillar tunnels, and fields on the farm. They were particularly excited to find some remaining carrots to harvest! Thank you for your volunteer service! Read more

Mind Over Matter = Volunteer Work Day

The phrase, “Mind over matter”, was put to the test when the UNC-Asheville Mindfulness club volunteered for a day with SAHC. Travis Bordley, our new Americorps Roan Outreach Associate, hosted 4 members of club and volunteers Saylor Fox and Bettye Boone for a trash clean-up day on a conservation property in the Highlands of Roan. 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

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