Growing elk population triggers landowner conflicts, land conservation efforts

Elk may be the most polarizing animal in Western North Carolina right now, but William Carter has kept a closer eye on the issue than most. Carter makes his living off a small mountain farm in the Jonathan Creek area, sharing a property line with the Ross dairy farm — that family’s elk-related struggles have earned them plenty of unwanted time in the local spotlight. 

SEE ALSO: Two-mile fence keeps elk off dairy farm following winter shooting of seven animals

As the elk population has grown, Carter’s found himself wondering what the future holds for his acres of beans, pumpkins and cattle pasture.

Homebuilding company wants to sell Plott Balsam tract for conservation

High in the Plott Balsams, there’s a swath of property riddled with panoramic views, sparking waterfalls and high-elevation solitude that was once destined for development. But more than a decade after purchasing it, America’s Homeplace has yet to build a single structure — and now the homebuilding company is offering the 912 acres at a reduced rate for long-term conservation. 

“It’s a beautiful piece of property, kind of a one-of-a-kind piece,” said Stacy Buchanan, regional president for the company and a Jackson County native. “There’s not many pieces this large left in the Southern Appalachians.”

Getting what you give up

In a 12-round heavyweight professional boxing match, at the beginning of the twelfth round there is a bell and the referee motions the two fighters to the center of the ring to begin the final round of the contest. In the fight for life on the planet Earth, and according to a majority of noted scientists, we are in the twelfth round. And Pulitzer-winning biologist E. O. Wilson is the referee. 

Conservation groups plead for red wolf program to stay

out redwolfPetitions bearing nearly half a million signatures urging protection of the endangered red wolf made their way to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week, about one year after the USFWS announced it would suspend a program reintroducing red wolves to the wild.

Beyond the river: Fly fishing camp builds confident, conservation-minded kids

out frRods, reels, and wader-clad teenagers dotted Big East Fork’s meander to Lake Logan through the warm summer mornings last week, a picture of mountain tranquility framed between green-shrouded banks backlit by the mountain-bordered reservoir downstream.

“It’s pretty relaxing,” said Gabby Dilemme, 14, of Brevard. The rod she grasped was her own, an instrument she’s used before when fishing with friends. But at Rivercourse, the annual four-day fly fishing and conservation camp organized by N.C. Trout Unlimited, she was hoping to dig a little deeper into the sport.

Group forms to support Pisgah District

fr pisgahWhen John Cottingham, then working as — in his words — a “stuffy, corporate lawyer,” walked into the Pisgah District Ranger Office to drop off a donation, he was surprised to learn that there actually wasn’t a way for the Pisgah National Forest to accept donations toward projects.

Nearly 50 acres conserved along national forest boundary

out preservedA purchase of 48 acres adjacent to the Pisgah National Forest and the Highlands of Roan by the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy saved the tract from development.

Plateau land trust conserves record number of acres

out conservedWith more than 400 acres of land conserved through purchase and conservation easements in 2015, the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust is celebrating a record year of land protection.

Reducing their footprint: Smokies unveils new energy-efficient equipment

out frThe Great Smoky Mountains National Park marked a milestone last week with the unveiling of 10 new pieces of equipment to make transportation in the park more energy-efficient. 

A project four years in the making, the new purchases — made using a $239,000 grant — are just the first phase in a three-year plan to reduce emissions in the park.

More than a walk: Conservation, tourism groups expect A.T. onslaught following movie release

coverBill Bryson and Steven Katz didn’t really know what they were getting into when they began their Appalachian Trail journey, recounted in the newly released movie “A Walk in the Woods.” From the moment Katz shows up for the adventure — limping, overweight and prone to seizures — to the time an attempt at traversing a stream sends both men flailing in the water, ineptitude is part of the comedy. 

But conservation and tourism organizations along the AT are hoping they won’t find themselves similarly unprepared when thru-hiking season starts up this spring. Featuring stars such as Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson and Nick Offerman, the movie is expected to appeal to a wide audience, putting the Appalachian Trail at the forefront of many minds.

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