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!
We’d like to give a HUGE thank you to the terrific team of volunteers from Aloft Downtown Asheville who came out to work on our Community Farm on Tuesday, October 17. This energetic crew arrived ready to get their boots dirty and do some good! They helped our Headwaters Market Garden incubator farmers harvest carrots, beets and kale, wrapping up summer production in the fields and preparing to transition to cold-weather operations. Read more
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
The Highlands of Roan are home to some of the most unique and globally rare ecosystems in the world, including montane grassy balds and spruce-fir communities. The Highlands are also one of the richest repositories of biodiversity in the southern Appalachians and support many rare plant and animal populations, including both state and federally-listed species. SAHC and our partners recognize that as recreational uses in the Roan increase, so does the importance of educating users about environmentally conscientious hiking and camping practices. Last summer, SAHC and our partners took a step toward doing just that by building an educational kiosk at the entrance to the Trail on Round Bald, near the popular Carvers Gap access. Read more
Sometimes you have to look beneath the surface to see the beauty in a conservation tract. Once such example is SAHC’s Sandy Mush Game Lands tract, which we acquired in 2011.
The 88-acre tract is important for conservation because it forms a critical linking bridge and wildlife corridor between non-contiguous portions of the state-owned game lands. Unfortunately, open public access to an old roadbed and the presence of hidden, steep slopes led to illegal dumping in the decades prior to our acquisition.
Dealing with the hundreds of illegally dumped items on the property has been a high priority goal for our Land Management and Stewardship team, and we were grateful to have some volunteer help to make headway. Read more
We 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
The 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
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