Join Us For A Madison County-wide Bioblitz, June 6-20

Join Us For A Madison County-wide Bioblitz, June 6-20

Join Us For A Madison County-wide Bioblitz, June 6-20

From June 6 to June 20 naturalists, kids, students, hunters, fishers, scholars and area residents are invited to log their observation in a new county project

Madison County, NC — Madison Natural Heritage, a natural history program of the Madison County Public Library System, and local conservation organization, MountainTrue are hosting a virtual Madison County Bioblitz — an ambitious two-week long biological inventory of the organisms living in Madison County that will take place from June 6-20. To register, visit: https://madisonnaturalheritage.org/2020-bioblitz/

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic, all participants are urged to practice safe social distancing by surveying alone or with family members or other people with whom they have been in isolation. People should comply with all remaining public lands and trail closures.

“This is a perfect time to do something good, be together while apart, get outside and into your own backyards and nearby natural areas and start taking stock of this incredible place where we live. Madison County is one of the most unique counties in the state.” explains Pete Dixon, a Madison County Public Library Trustee. “With digital technology and the citizen-science movement, it is easy for anyone to get involved and make meaningful contributions to the body of scientific knowledge. And it’s a perfect chance to get kids off of their screens and out into nature.”

“MountainTrue has organized a bioblitz every year since 2016,” said MountainTrue Biologist and Madison County native Josh Kelly. “Bioblitzes are great opportunities for regular people and experts alike to learn more about the natural world. We are thrilled to support and partner with Madison Natural Heritage on this project to document and celebrate the natural diversity of Madison County. Now, more than ever, people need fun, safe ways to get outdoors, and this event is perfect for that.”

Over the two week period from June 6-20, naturalists, kids, students, hunters, fishers, scholars and all area residents are invited to explore their neighborhoods, nearby forests and open public lands and document the species they find using the iNaturalist smartphone app and website (https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/madison-county-2020-bioblitz) and to post their discoveries to social media using the hashtag #madcobioblitz. To learn more and register for the Blitz, visit: (click here)

A spined soldier bug identified at MountainTrue’s 2019 Bioblitz in Nantahala Gorge. Photo by Rhys Burns, courtesy of MountainTrue.

“Madison County’s biological diversity is extreme,” says Dixon. “Biologists have been attempting to document the great number of plants and animals living here for generations, yet more discoveries turn up all the time. A recent example is the discovery of a Variegated Meadowhawk Dragonfly [picture and caption included in the media kit] in the Murray Branch area. The Meadowhawk is common in the Mississippi Valley, but had never before been documented in the North Carolina mountains.”

Madison Natural Heritage is a public library project that is intended to engage students, scholars and citizens and to collect and archive data about our rich and cherished natural world in Madison County. More than that, this project will preserve the natural history of Madison County as an interactive digital natural history museum.

Peggy Goforth, the library administrative manager, who was instrumental in starting the project has said, “Because Madison County is so special and unique, it is critical that we instill in our children the knowledge to preserve and maintain this beautiful place that we love and call home.”

MountainTrue is a regional conservation nonprofit that champions resilient forests, clean waters and healthy communities. The organization’s members and volunteers work to protect our forests, clean up our rivers, plan vibrant and livable communities and advocate for a sound and sustainable future for all. MountainTrue is active in the Broad, French Broad, Green, Hiwassee, Little Tennessee, New and Watauga watersheds, and is home to the Broad Riverkeeper, French Broad Riverkeeper, Green Riverkeeper and Watauga Riverkeeper. More info at mountaintrue.org.


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Protect the Waters of Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest

Protect the Waters of Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest

Protect the Waters of Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest

The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests are the headwaters of seven major river systems, providing drinking water for millions of people in four southeastern states and wildlife habitat for a bewildering array of native species.

Unfortunately, the current draft plan is inadequate in a few very important ways when it comes to water quality protections and we need you to speak up. The deadline for public comments is June 29 and this is our last significant chance to have our say. You can comment more than once.

The draft plan proposes less stream protection for the Nantahala-Pisgah than other Southern Appalachian National Forests such as the Chattahoochee, the Cherokee, and the Jefferson. While the 100-foot buffer on perennial streams is good, the draft plan only affords intermittent streams a 15-foot buffer, and provides no protection at all for ephemeral streams — the type of streams that make up the very beginning of the watershed networks we depend on.

Compare this to Cherokee National Forest, across the border in Tennessee, which has a default riparian buffer of 100 feet on perennial streams, 50 feet on intermittent streams and 25 feet on ephemeral streams. Cherokee National Forest also allows buffers to be increased to 264 feet in areas with steeper slopes.

These buffers prevent streams from being degraded, provide shade, and reduce sediment pollution and habitat damage due to timber harvesting, road building and other development. When these protective buffers are removed, water temperatures increase and sediment makes its way into streams and rivers suffocating aquatic habitats — reducing populations of species such as trout, freshwater mussels and hellbenders.

Learn More About Our Forest Waters

On April 28, MountainTrue’s Western Regional Director Callie Moore hosted a live webinar to explore water quality issues in the draft management plan.

Water quality protections for the Nantahala and Pisgah should meet or exceed the water quality protections given for other Southern Appalachian National Forests so that our forest streams are protected from road building, skid trails, log loading areas, waste disposal and other ground disturbing activities.

Additionally, watersheds classified by the state as Outstanding Resource Waters are determined to have excellent water quality and exceptional ecological or recreational significance. There are nine ORW watersheds within Nantahala-Pisgah National Forests and they should be named and protected in the plan.

This Forest Management Plan will set priorities and protections for the 1,200 miles of streams and rivers of Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests for the next 15-20 years, and this is our last significant chance to make our voices heard.

Please take action for clean water today. 

Comment below or checkout our our Forest Plan Resource page for our full analysis of the entire Draft Forest Management Plan.

 


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Our Scavenger Hunts Will Help You Learn About Your Neighborhood’s Native and Invasive Species

Our Scavenger Hunts Will Help You Learn About Your Neighborhood’s Native and Invasive Species

These days, many of us are spending more time at home. Now that the weather is warming up, we hope you get the chance to get outside and explore your neighborhood! The next time you’re out for a stroll, we hope you’ll consider taking along one of our scavenger hunts to learn a thing or two about your neighborhood!

To start, we’d like to challenge you to keep an eye out for something that doesn’t belong — non-native invasive plants. At MountainTrue, much of our work on public lands is dominated by concerns about invasive plants, and we’ve spent thousands of hours removing them from our most important forest areas. However, it is far easier to stop these species before they take root, and our yards are often the source. If you’d like to get involved, the first step is to learn what to look out for by downloading our Neighborhood Invasives Scavenger Hunt!

We’d also like to better acquaint you with 10 native species that often grace our urban and suburban areas, with our Introduction to Neighborhood Natives Scavenger Hunt. We hope to help you identify these species if you aren’t familiar with them, or simply share some fun facts for you more experienced botanists! If you’re not so interested in plants, we’ve also created a Native Birds Scavenger Hunt to learn about some of our most common neighborhood visitors.  

We hope you’ll take this opportunity to explore your local environment with us. Tag us on social media (@mtntrue) with your finds, and happy hunting!

Download by clicking on the image below.

Invasives Scavenger Hunt

Natives Scavenger Hunt

Bird Scavenger Hunt


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Check Out Our New Oriental Bittersweet Invasive Plant Coloring Sheet

Check Out Our New Oriental Bittersweet Invasive Plant Coloring Sheet

Check Out Our New Oriental Bittersweet Invasive Plant Coloring Sheet

Our COVID-19 Activities Guide is chock-full of resources to help you keep learning and protecting our public lands. A recent addition is a series of coloring sheets featuring non-native invasive plants that you can print and color at home. Each sheet will have a short history on how that plant was introduced to our region and tips in identification and eradication.

Oriental Bittersweet

Update: We’ve just released our second coloring sheet, for Oriental Bittersweet. As a vine, the Oriental Bittersweet strangles trees and grows in both full sun and shade, making it a threat in any forest or suburban yard. It produces a prodigious annual seed crop which is eaten and spread. The fruits are often used in autumn wreath making, which furthers their spread.

Oriental bittersweet vines often appear spotted, and circle up anything they can climb. Its leaves are alternately arranged, and round with rounded teeth and usually a pointed tip. Its berries are bright orange-red which burst out of their yellow casing in the fall.

The first step for eradication is to cut this vine off of trees to prevent their being strangled and to bag and dispose of any berries. This vine responds well to chemical treatment, but can be pulled if done carefully and with follow ups each spring to check for new sprouts.

 

Multiflora Rose

The first of the series is the prickly Multiflora Rose. A native species of Japan, China and Korea, Multiflora Rose was introduced to North America as an ornamental rose that was once seen as an attractive living fence for livestock. Now we know it is an incredibly damaging invasive plant that has invaded our public lands. It spreads quickly (each plant can produce hundreds of thousands of seeds in a single season), forms dense, impenetrable thickets, and crowds out native plant species.

Like most roses, Multiflora Rose has green to red stems and compound leaves with delicately toothed leaflets. To differentiate from native roses, look for sharp, downward-hooked thorns, and “eyelashes” at the base of the leaves.

To get rid of them, Multiflora Rose can be dug out, or cut down as long as sprouts are pulled each spring. They also responds well to chemical treatment.

Thank you to Hendersonville native Sarah Ray for providing the art. 


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Water and the Draft Plan for Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests

Water and the Draft Plan for Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests

Water and the Draft Plan for Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests

On April 28, MountainTrue’s Western Regional Director Callie Moore hosted a live webinar to explore water quality issues in the draft management plan for Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the big topics Callie covered. For more information, check out Callie’s full recorded webinar here, or see her presentation slides here.
Riparian Buffers

Because riparian buffers perform so many valuable functions, including filtering sediment from overland runoff, preventing erosion, moderating stream temperature and providing food and habitat for aquatic life, all streams need some level of protection. We recommend a streamside zone of the following widths on each side of streams: 

  • 100 feet for perennials (streams with continuous flow all year long)
  • 50 feet on intermittents (streams with flow during parts of the year); and 
  • 25 feet on ephemerals (only flow in response to rainfall). 

Additionally, the plan should ensure that encroachment during timber harvest is only allowed in the outer 50 feet of the perennial streamside zone – and only in rare, justifiable situations.

Outstanding Resource Waters

All streams on the National Forest are not equal. Watersheds classified by the state as Outstanding Resource Waters (ORW) carry special antidegradation standards under the Clean Water Act. The ORW supplemental stream classification is intended to protect waters that have excellent water quality and have exceptional ecological or recreational significance. To qualify, waters must be rated Excellent by the NC Division of Water Resources and have one or more outstanding resource values. There are nine ORW watersheds within plan boundaries. These watersheds should be recognized and named in the plan.

Road Maintenance Backlog

The Nantahala and Pisgah have over $40 million in deferred maintenance of their road system. This backlog causes erosion and water quality damage. Because the Forest Service doesn’t have the resources to maintain the existing road network, we recommend a new Objective in the Plan that would call on the Forest Service to assign degrees of the urgency of maintenance needed for each system road. This would provide a better understanding of the resources needed to adequately maintain the road network beyond periodic grading and gravel, and would help prioritize all urgent maintenance needs.

Learn More About The Forest Plan And Submit Your Public Comment


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Get to Know Your (Other) Neighbors with the Asheville Tree Map

Get to Know Your (Other) Neighbors with the Asheville Tree Map

Get to Know Your (Other) Neighbors with the Asheville Tree Map

by Rhys Burns, AmeriCorps Forest Keeper Coordinator

Western North Carolina is well known for our beautiful forests, but the city of Asheville has slowly been losing tree cover over the years. Thankfully, there are lots of projects underway to try to protect our precious urban trees! One such endeavor is the Asheville Tree Map, an app that allows folks to map the trees in their neighborhood and city, and monitor changes in urban tree density.

So far the app has hundreds if not thousands of trees mapped, and provided hundreds of Ashevillians with a chance to get to know a different kind of neighbor. The app also helps convey the value of our urban forest by estimating ecosystem benefits provided by each tree, such as gallons of stormwater filtered each year. The Asheville Tree Map is an initiative of the City’s Tree Commission. Bob Gale, MountainTrue’s Public Lands Ecologist, served on the Asheville Tree Commission for nine years.

A screen shot from the app shows the ability to select a tree (the little green dots) and easily view its species. Clicking on the banner at the bottom will then show any further recorded information, such as size or date planted.

This large hickory is estimated to save $224 per year- now think about all the trees in town!

 He was part of the push for the app, and remembers, “Asheville’s Arborist, Mark Foster, asked our Commission if there was a way we could start inspecting and inventorying the city trees. He had neither the capacity nor budget to go beyond simply maintaining, pruning and replacing street trees. Serendipitously, we learned of this tree app that Philadelphia was using and after some researching and tweaking we made it happen in Asheville. Getting the public engaged through the app makes the task seem less overwhelming and also empowers residents to help protect our urban forest.”

While the app has some really cool functionality, it only works if people contribute information. There are many thousands of trees in Asheville that aren’t yet mapped- meaning they can’t be monitored for changes in our overall canopy. You can help this effort by marking the trees around you, and it’s a great chance to get to know your botanical neighbors during this time of social distancing. On your next neighborhood stroll, give it a shot!

Find the app on Google Play or the Apple App Store. Registration in the app requires an email address.


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.