Partners Make Big Contributions in 2015

Partners are critical to the success of the Grandfather Restoration Project. The partners are not only an important part of the collaborative planning process, but they play a big role in implementing the work on the ground. In FY2015, partners worked over 8,000 hours on the Grandfather Ranger District for a total value of over $200,000! Below is the partner match work that was reported for the 2015 CFLR annual report.

Habitat Restoration:

  • The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission supported wildlife activities across the district, including stocking of 4,000 native trout, mowing of 375 acres of wildlife openings, and 13 habitat surveys.

Invasive Species Treatments:

  • Wild South worked for over 500 hours on invasive species eradication, focusing on Paulownia, within the Linville Gorge wilderness and outside the wilderness within the Table Rock fire area.
  • The Wilderness Society assisted in preparing reports for Hemlock Wooly Adelgid treatments.
  • Wild South inventoried hemlocks needing treatment in Linville Gorge.

Trail Restoration:

  • The Friends of the Mountain to Sea Trail volunteers worked over 1,800 hours on trail maintenance for the Mountain to Sea Trail. Friends of Linville Gorge and Gorge Rats volunteers worked over 1,300 hours on trail maintenance in Linville Gorge Wilderness.
  • The Linville Gorge Mapping project worked over 1,000 hours on a comprehensive trail and ecosystem mapping project in the Linville Gorge.
  • The Southern Area Wilderness Stewards worked over 800 hours in addition to contracted work on trail maintenance within the Linville Gorge Wilderness.
  • The Vermont Youth Conservation Corp provided matching funds for the relocation of the China Creek Trail

Prescribed Fire:

  • The Nature Conservancy provided support for fire implementation with 2 qualified firefighters as well as education and outreach with the creation of a “Fire Learning Trail” of interpretive signs and accompanying social media.
  • The North Carolina Forest Service and the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission provided support for prescribed fire implementation and participated in joint-agency landscape burns.

Timber and Silviculture:

  • Partners, including MountainTrue and The Nature Conservancy, provided support for identification of future project sites to be implemented under the new Farm Bill CE authority for Southern Pine Beetle recovery.


  • Following the Lake James Prescribed burn, collaborative members from The Nature Conservancy and NC Wildlife Resources Commission completed immediate post burn monitoring following the Southern Blue ridge Fire Learning Network methodology.
  • The Wilderness Society continued work on fire effects monitoring in the Linville Gorge Wilderness with a Duke University Masters Student. The data, collected in FY2014, fed into the analysis and thesis, completed in FY2015.
  • MountainTrue and Forest Service botanists monitored invasive species treatment effectiveness in the Wilson Creek area following treatments. Invasive species monitoring was also completed in the Blue Gravel Fire area and the Bald Knob Fire area, as well as the Roses Creek Timber Sale area.
  • In FY2015, an AmeriCorps intern at Mountain True analyzed the camera data collected in FY2014 and provided results showing that more animals use the burn units (both more in numbers and higher diversity of species). However, due to the small sample size no statistically significant results could be determined.



Grandfather Project Highlighted in USDA Report

On Tuesday, USDA released a Forest Service report that documents the significant efforts to increase the pace and scale of restoration on the landscape to create resilience within forests and natural resources. The report highlights the extensive work the Forest Service has undertaken over the last few years to confront serious challenges facing forests and grasslands.

The first initiative that is highlighted is the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, with a spotlight on the Grandfather Restoration Project. Out of 20+ projects across the country, the fact that we were chosen as the highlight in this high-impact report says a lot about the hard work and great collaboration here on the Grandfather!

USDAreportGrandfather Restoration Project North Carolina: The Grandfather Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Project brings together diverse partners to restore the forest health and resilience of a unique section of the southern Blue Ridge Mountains. The project is reducing fire risk, removing invasive species, improving wildlife habitat, and increasing recreation opportunities. One of the project’s many successes is the work across ownerships to remove Japanese knotweed from the Wilson Creek Wild and Scenic River Corridor. This invasive plant species takes over riparian areas, competing with native vegetation and reducing the quality of trout habitat in the waters of Wilson Creek. Successful treatment of Japanese knotweed requires removing the plant from both the National Forest System and privately owned land in the river corridor. The Forest Service, North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission, and the partner group Friends of Wilson Creek are working on National Forest System lands and with private property owners to remove Japanese knotweed, with plans to eradicate Japanese knotweed from the area by 2017.

Check out the full report here: From Accelerating Restoration To Creating and Maintaining Resilient Landscapes and Communities Across the Nation


Fiscal Year 2015 Accomplishments

Its hard to believe its almost 2016! For those of us in the federal government, it is already fiscal year 2016 – the new fiscal year (FY) began on October 1st. This time of year is when we work on reporting all the great work we have done over the past FY and plan for the new FY. FY2015 was a great year for the Grandfather Restoration Project! We were able to exceed our targets in almost every area. The accomplishments below are in addition to the great work our partners and volunteers completed across the district.

Habitat Restoration: 1 acre of lake habitat restored, 5,780 acres of terrestrial habitat enhanced

Boone Fork pond restorationLake habitat was restored at Boone Fork Pond, controlling erosion and adding fish habitat structures.

Terrestrial habitat was restored through a variety of management, including maintenance of wildlife openings, mechanical restoration of the Lost Cove orchard, prescribed fire, timber stand improvement, and shortleaf pine restoration harvest activities.

Invasive Species Treatments: 306 acres of nonnative invasive plant treatments, 45 acres of hemlock wooly adelgid treatments

IMG_5450Invasive species were treated with herbicide in the Catawba River Floodplain, along Wilson Creek, along Back Irish Creek Rd, and outside the Wilderness around Table Rock. Paulownia was hand pulled inside the Wilderness in partnership with WildSouth.

Hemlock wooly adelgid treatments were continued for Carolina and eastern hemlock across the district. 22 acres were treated for the first time along the Catawba Falls trail.


Watershed Restoration: 1 aquatic organism passage installed, 10.5 miles of non-system roads decommissioned

20150413_164819 (3)A large aquatic organism passage was installed along Simpson Creek, allowing for safe fish passage and maintenance of the natural stream channel.

Law enforcement identified 10.5 miles of non-system roads and multiple trails that were decommissioned by placing boulders at entry points, reducing erosion into sensitive watersheds.

Trail Restoration: 1.3 miles of trails improved, 60 miles of trails maintained

IMG_3443The China Creek trail near Blowing Rock was relocated to follow a historical route.

Through USFS labor and contracts 60 miles of trails were maintained. This work included 15+ miles of work completed by SAWS in Linville Gorge. This is in addition to the great work the volunteer trail community is doing across the Grandfather Ranger District.

Prescribed Fire: 7,497 acres of fuels treated

IMG_1489Prescribed burns were conducted at the Lake James unit, the Woodruff Ridge unit, the Wilson Creek unit, and the Rockhouse unit.

Site preparation burns were conducted as part of the Roses Creek timber sale.

The Blue Gravel Fire, the Bald Knob Fire, and the Wolf Creek Fire were managed through a “confine and contain” strategy.

Timber and Silviculture: 151 acres of forest vegetation established, 737 acres of forest vegetation improved, 1,205 CCF of timber harvested

Newly-planted 2yr shortleaf pine seedling at Miller Mountain

Through the Roses Creek project, over 150 acres of shortleaf pine forest was established following the harvest of the remaining stands of timber.

Timber harvest and vegetation improvement focused on removing white pine, tulip poplar and red maple and retaining oaks and yellow pines.


Monitoring: 2 new monitoring contracts

The Grandfather Ranger District entered into 2 multi-year contracts: one with Western Carolina University to monitor prescribed fire effects on vegetation, and one with MountainTrue to monitor invasive species occurrence and treatment