Fire Learning Trail Launches

Visiting Linville Gorge on the Grandfather Ranger District of the Pisgah National Forest it is hard not to notice the signs of fire. From the iconic wind-whipped table mountain pines gripping the cliffs at the edge of the gorge, to the characteristic clear views, fire has shaped Linville from the beginning.

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Partnering with The Nature Conservancy, The Fire Learning Network, and the Consortium of Appalachian Fire Managers and Scientists, the Grandfather Ranger District has installed a series of informational signs along Old NC 105 on the west rim of Linville Gorge to share with the public information about fire safety, fire history, fire ecology, and firefighting. Visitors starting at the Information Cabin at the north end of Old NC 105 can visit the signs by driving south along the Fire Learning Trail as they take in the sights of the area.

The signs are accompanied by a series of pod casts featuring radio-style interviews with local fire managers that are available on iTunes (search: Fire Learning Trail) or on CDs distributed free of charge at the Linville Information Cabin.

The Fire Learning Trail is part of an effort to increase education on the history of the Grandfather Ranger District and the forces of nature that have shaped the forests. Specialists from The Nature Conservancy and the Consortium of Appalachian Fire Managers and Scientists were on hand at the Linville Gorge Spring Celebration last weekend to talk to the public about this exciting new outreach effort.

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Japanese weed a growing problem at Wilson Creek

The Grandfather Restoration Project has been highlighted in the news once again! A story detailing the invasive species work being done at Wilson Creek was featured on the front page of the Sunday edition of the Lenior, NC Newspaper, The Lenior News Topic.

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“In the 1920s, Bill Crump ordered a packet of seeds from a Sears Roebuck catalog to help him stave erosion after a flood washed through his woodworking mill in Cary’s Flat, near the headwaters of Wilson Creek.

In the 70 years since then, the plant that grew from those seeds, Japanese knotweed, has multiplied exponentially, migrated down the creek and taken up residence along uninhabited stream banks.

Today, what was supposed to be a fix has become a big problem for the ecology in the Wilson Creek area.”

The story brings attention to the Japanese knotweed overtaking the Wilson Creek Corridor, and highlights both the work of the NC Wildlife Resource Commission and the US Forest Service.

Read the full article on the newspaper’s website here: Japanese Weed a Growing Problem at Wilson Creek

Silver Lining Seen in Linville Gorge Wildfire

The Grandfather Restoration Project made an appearance in the Asheville, NC newspaper, The Citizen Times, for a follow up story on the Table Rock Wildfire that burned in the Linville Gorge Wilderness last November. The article was featured on the front page of the Sunday Edition of the newspaper.

Grandfather Restoration Project Coordinator Lisa Jennings inspects new growth 8 months after the Table Rock wildfire

Grandfather Restoration Project Coordinator Lisa Jennings inspects new growth 8 months after the Table Rock wildfire

The article provides a look at the aftermath of the Table Rock wildfire, and discusses the importance of fire within the Linville Gorge Wilderness area. It provides a well-rounded look at the subject, interviewing local hikers and activists as well as ecologists, and highlights the resiliency of the fire-adapted ecosystems.

Jennings thinks November’s Linville Gorge blaze offers a lesson on the benefits of fire in some ecosystems. “Hopefully it will change some people’s views about fire on the landscape.”

Read the full article on the newspaper’s website here: Silver Lining Seen in Linville Gorge Wildfire

Rising from the ashes: Table Rock wildfire stimulates plant growth

The Grandfather Restoration Project recently teamed up with a local journalist for the Morganton, NC newspaper, The News Herald, for a follow up story on the Table Rock Wildfire that burned in the Linville Gorge Wilderness last November.

Lisa Jennings inspects herbaceous growth 7 month after the Table Rock Wildfire (photo by Tyler Johnson, The News Herald)

Grandfather Restoration Project Coordinator, Lisa Jennings inspects herbaceous growth 7 month after the Table Rock Wildfire (photo by Tyler Johnson, The News Herald)

The article highlights the beneficial effects of fire and the need for applying prescribed fire to restore the fire-adapted communities in the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area.

“Because there is less shrub coverage (following fires), there is a lot more sunlight coming in and that will allow more herbaceous growth and the sun’s energy to reach the ground level,” Josh Kelly of Western North Carolina Alliance said. “Most of the diversity in our temperate forest is herbaceous. We have 130 species of trees in this area, but we also have 1,500 species of herbaceous plants.”

View the article on the newspaper’s website here: Rising from the ashes: Table Rock wildfire stimulates plant growth

Japanese Knotweed: Wilson Creek’s Most Unwanted Invasive Species

The Wilson Creek Wild and Scenic River corridor in Caldwell County is a priority area for non-native invasive species treatments under the Grandfather Restoration Project. One of the most prevalent and destructive invasive species along the river is Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica), which takes over riparian areas, competing with native vegetation and reducing the quality of trout habitat in the waters of Wilson Creek. First planted on private property in the early 1900’s for erosion control, the Japanese Knotweed can now be found throughout the Wilson Creek area.

Volunteers work to remove Japanese Knotweed from riparian areas along Wilson Creek

Volunteers work to remove Japanese Knotweed from riparian areas along Wilson Creek

Wilson Creek has mixed ownership, with Forest Service lands in the headwaters and downstream. Treating Japanese knotweed only on Forest Service property would not accomplish the objectives of the Grandfather Restoration Project, as plants would continue to wash downstream from private property. In order to fully eradicate Japanese knotweed from the river corridor, it is critical that individual property owners work with the Forest Service to properly treat infestations on their portion of the river.

In order to educate both private property owners and the visiting public about Japanese knotweed, the Grandfather Restoration Project has posted flyers throughout the area that highlight the species as Wilson Creek’s Most Unwanted Invasive Species. Already, several property owners, including the Wilson Creek Visitors Center run by the non-profit organization “Friends of Wilson Creek”, have expressed interest in controlling the species on their riverfront properties. With the help of these private landowners, as well as the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the Grandfather Restoration Project hopes to eradicate Japanese knotweed from the area by 2017.

 

NC State Forestry Class Visits the Grandfather

The Grandfather Restoration Project is getting recognized throughout North Carolina for leading the way in prescribed burning in mountain ecosystems. The senior forestry operations class from North Carolina State University (NC State) Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources toured the Grandfather Ranger District in April, visiting a prescribed fire unit near dobson knob and viewing wildfire effects in the Linville Gorge Wilderness.

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NCSU Forestry Operations class atop Pinnacles in Linville Gorge

National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day

Join communities throughout the U.S. on Saturday, May 3, 2014 for the first National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day!

National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day

Organize friends, an entire neighborhood, a faith-based or youth group and participate in a project that reduces your community’s wildfire risk. Commit a couple of hours or the entire day and join others throughout the nation making their communities a safer place.