A project to create prime ruffed grouse habitat in the Cold Mountain Game Lands has been dedicated as the Jerry Smathers Memorial Ruffed Grouse Habitat.
Smathers was an avid outdoorsman and loved spending his free time in the woods hunting, fishing, camping and horseback riding. Smathers, who lived in Canton, worked in resource management for Champion Paper Company and was involved with every facet of forest and wildlife management and timber procurement. Smathers died of an apparent heart attack while tending to his horses on his farm the day before Thanksgiving in 2006.
The ruffed grouse habitat is a joint effort by the Southern Appalachian Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
Cold Mountain Game Lands is a 3,295-acre tract of former timber land that was purchased from Champion Paper in 1999.
The habitat project aims to create wildlife openings in the forest and pockets of early successional habitat, places where the forest is regenerating after being logged. They are thought to be important to wildlife. The tract is being actively logged, new roads constructed and prescribed burns planned. Timber management is selecting for hardwoods over pine and aiming to improve oaks, which provide acorns.