Public Lands

There are over 1.6 million acres of national forests in Western North Carolina. From its founding, MountainTrue has stayed committed to the protection of our public lands and forests by helping to shape the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest Management Plan and advocating for our national, state, county and city parks.

Forest Management Plan

MountainTrue works to help shape the National Forest Service’s Forest Plan for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. MountainTrue and its members advocate for conservation and sustainable public access through our participation in coalitions such as the Conservation & Recreation Coalition and the Nantahala-Pisgah Partnership.

Why Does This Matter?

Everyone who loves our forests has an issue they care about that will be impacted by the new forest management plan

Forest Keeper Volunteers

MountainTrue’s volunteer base of Forest Keepers works to keep WNC forests and public lands protected and healthy. The Forest Keepers’ work begins at the intersection of environmental science and environmental stewardship.  This group collaborates with other non-profits in North Carolina to promote active stewardship in protecting, managing and maintaining the forest of Southern Appalachia. Forest Keeper volunteers work in conjunction with North Carolina Forest Service, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Hemlock Restoration Initiative, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and the City of Asheville Parks and Recreation Department as the eyes, ears and helping hands of the forest.

The Forest Keepers protect, manage, and maintain the health of our Southern Appalachian forests through volunteer workdays, hosting skills workshops and giving science presentations. Forest Keepers have the opportunity to work within our forests and network with other people in Western North Carolina who are dedicated to forest protection and ecosystem vitality. This dedicated group of volunteers does hands on work through projects like hemlock restoration workdays, Richmond Hill Park non-native invasive removal, Sandy Bottom wetlands restoration, OM Sanctuary restoration and our annual bioblitz. For more information about the Forest Keeper Volunteers and to get involved, contact Bob Gale at bob@mountaintrue.org or Josh Kelly at josh@mountaintrue.org.

Annual Bioblitz

MountainTrue conducts an annual bioblitz every year in an area of our WNC public lands. A bioblitz is a biological inventory of an ecosystem in order to record all the living species within a particular area. MountainTrue staff, scientists, wildlife experts, naturalists and community volunteers gather together and explore a selected area to catalogue living species and learn more about our unique mountain ecosystems.

Our first bioblitz was conducted in 2016 on Bluff Mountain. Read more!

Public Lands News

Public Lands Are More Popular Than Ever, And They Need Your Help

Public Lands Are More Popular Than Ever, And They Need Your Help

2020 has brought record visitation to public lands in our region, with many of the people visiting these lands doing so for the first time. While the new wave of interest is exciting, the crowds and all the newcomers have also brought growing pains in the form of overflowing parking lots, trash bins and piles of litter. MountainTrue’s Public Lands Field Biologist, Josh Kelly, shares some ideas in this blog post about how we can all encourage newcomers to be better stewards of our public lands.

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A Black Naturalists Journal

A Black Naturalists Journal

The serenity of nature is like the hug from a friend we all desperately need. The glow and warmth it leaves me with brings me in touch with this land, our planet, not as we have made it, but as it is. September 23, 2020. Justice was outright denied for the young, lively, human being Breonna Taylor. September 23, 1955. Justice was spit on in the case of poor, young Emmett Till. It is the morning after the ruling in Breonna’s case, I’m sipping coffee, paying mind to how I really feel.

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On Division, Communicating the “Inflammatory”

On Division, Communicating the “Inflammatory”

A hot word: “Divisive.” Here in the United States, we talk a lot about how divided we are. But how do we become divided? Before our divisions are philosophical, they are linguistic. Ask any Facebook user what it’s like to use that platform to engage with others on any important issue or hot topic, and their head just might explode. We all see what’s happening around us objectively: we are in a pandemic, nationwide protests happen almost daily, it is an election year, first Australia was engulfed in flames, then the Western US coast. We are living through the same objective events, and most of us are likely seeking similar outcomes: we want health for ourselves and our loved ones, we want as little loss of life as possible by the end of this pandemic, we want our nation to serve justice, we want our planet to be habitable for future generations. Above all, we keep hearing how important for Americans to once again be united as a people, how we’re all so tired of the division. While we all originate from different backgrounds, cultures, family structures, and we have lived different lives, had different experiences, and possess different goals, I like to think that we’re not as different as we think we are.

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Laurel Creek Inholding now part of Nantahala National Forest

Laurel Creek Inholding now part of Nantahala National Forest

On June 17, 2020, the U.S. Government purchased a 49.33-acre in-holding at the headwaters of Laurel Creek, in Clay and Cherokee counties, making the land public and part of Nantahala National Forest! The purchase from the Mainspring Conservation Trust closes the loop on a 12-year battle by the former Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition, MountainTrue and several other partners to prevent private landowners from building a road through the National Forest and cabins at the top of pristine headwaters of Fires Creek.

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