Submitted by John Davis on Tue, 2011-05-31 19:09
http://wildlandsnetwork.org/trekeast/bl ... ild-acres
Western North Carolina is deservedly blessed with a strong and cohesive conservation community. Innumerable conservation benefactors, wildlands advocates, and naturalists are giving their lives to make whole again what some know as the Blue Ridge Physiographic Province, some know as the Southern Appalachians, some know as Katuah, and some know as the most biologically intact part of the most biologically rich region in the eastern mountains – an area that still has several hundred thousand acres of its original forest. This last fact we now know because of some highly skilled fieldwork on the part of naturalists ably supported by conservation advocacy groups and their benefactors.
We were also lucky enough to meet with the proprietors ofWinterberry Farm (near Canton, NC), who were kind enough to give Ron and me a tour of their wild farm, where they are planting cross-bred chestnuts, as part of a carefully researched effort to yield a predominantly American chestnut that can survive the exotic blight that nearly wiped out this foundational species.
.Probably no one, though, has found and delineated more previously undocumented old-growth remnants than Rob Messick, one of my mother’s chief informants for her chapters on North Carolina and Tennessee (in Old Growth Forest in the East: A Survey, presently on primalnature.org, soon to be moved to wildandsnetwork.org). Rob Messick is renowned in the Southern Appalachians conservation community for his fieldwork. I’d not seen Rob since one of the eastern old-growth conferences many years ago, but hoping he might have research under way near the trek route, I called him from Asheville. Fortuitously, he was free to lead me into some old-growth forest in the Curtis Creek watershed of the Catawba River, south of the Blue Ridge Parkway yet part of the Black Mountains, the day after Ron and I visited the good folks at nearby Wildacres (including conservation benefactor Philip Blumenthal, director of this beautiful retreat center).