Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Volunteer Opportunity at Cataloochee Ranch This Weekend

The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and Nature Valley (Preserve the Parks) are partnering with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy to improve song bird habitat and protect water quality on the scenic and historic Cataloochee Ranch in Haywood County, North Carolina this Saturday. Cataloochee Ranch is a three-generation, family-run operation that has protected more than 300 acres of high elevation land adjoining Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Over the course of 2011, partner groups helped volunteers and crew members remove almost 45 acres of invasive plants within and adjacent to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Native tree seedlings were also planted along the banks of waterways flowing into the Park to improve water quality and safeguard four federally protected native fish species — the Spotfin Chub, the Duskytail Darter, the Smoky Madtom and the Yellowfin Madtom.

In 2012, volunteers plan to expand their focus with these projects:

* Work in conjunction with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy to support habitat restoration on 500 acres of private land adjacent to the Park.

* Attract migratory songbird populations by feathering the forest edge of high-elevation pastures.

* Rehabilitate and repair the damage to landscape caused by foraging wild hogs.

* Continue to remove invasive, non-native vegetation like Oriental Bittersweet, multiflora rose, privet and garlic mustard, among others.

* Work with the American Chestnut Foundation to reintroduce native Chestnut trees into the Southern Appalachian landscape.

For this restoration event, volunteers will enhance habitat for migratory song birds by feathering the forest edge along pasture boundaries and removing invasive plant species. Volunteer groups will also focus on improving a section of a popular horse and hiking trail (Tom’s Stand Trail) to help protect water quality adjacent to the park.

The volunteer opportunity is this Saturday, July 28th, from 9:00 a.m . – 2:00 p.m. For directions to Cataloochee Ranch or to register as a volunteer, please contact Margot Wallston at (828) 253-0095 ext. 212 or by Thursday, July 26th.

Hiking in the Smokies

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