Below the Pinnacle: Project seeks to protect 250 acres below Pinnacle Rock

The 3.5-mile hike to the top of Pinnacle Rock is a heart-pumping one, the old logging roads that now serve as hiking trails climbing 2,200 feet before leaving the hiker breathless before a sweeping aerial view of the Town of Sylva, cradled on all sides by forested mountain slopes.

Conserving for clean water: Project protects 710 acres in Maggie, with 1,350 more to come

Conservation leaders from across the state and nation gathered in Maggie Valley earlier this month to dedicate a land protection project that’s been in the works for a decade and a half — but is in many ways just beginning. 

The Conservation Fund now owns tracts of land totaling 710 acres in Maggie Valley’s Campbell Creek and Jonathan Creek watersheds, with work underway to transfer that property to the Maggie Valley Sanitary District for permanent conservation. Another 1,350 acres are in the pipeline for protection, with property owners having agreed to sell it once the money is there to buy it. 

Working the watershed: Forest Stewards lays out plans for Waynesville watershed’s future

Nearly four decades ago, vast swathes of the 8,600-acre Waynesville watershed were laid bare, the trees timbered for profit and the soil harvested to build the earth-filled dam now holding back the reservoir.

Fast forward to 2019, and the landscape has changed dramatically. There is no more bare soil, and no more open canopy. It’s a full-grown forest, sunlight filtering through a green canopy below which the only sounds are those produced by the birds, insects and wind. The white pines planted to stabilize the stripped soil have thrived, perhaps too much. In 2014, a good many of them were cut down during a thinning conducted on a 50-acre portion of the property, as the seedlings were planted too close together to serve them well as they grew larger. But white pine is still a common species in the 8,600-acre watershed.

Tribe votes for Plott Balsam conservation

An effort to conserve 912 acres along the Plott Balsam ridge in Jackson County cleared the final hurdle of a five-year-long race last week when the Cherokee Tribal Council narrowly voted to contribute $1 million to the project. 

Rally ‘Round the River: Conference aims to unite Macon around watershed conservation

Twenty-five years ago, a group of residents, conservationists and agency officials met in Macon County to talk about water. At the time, the Little Tennessee River had no conserved land along its banks, and there was no nonprofit organization around dedicated to protecting it — but the gathering sparked a change.

“That conference was really the catalyst for the formation of the Little Tennessee Watershed Association and then later the Nikwasi Land Trust, (both of) which became the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee,” said Jason Love, site manager for the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory in Macon County.

Walking Waynesville’s watershed: Hike offers rare glimpse into unspoiled area

Of all the rugged places in Western North Carolina, one of the most pristine and unique is also one of the least known — but that’s by design. 

Mention Rocky Branch Lake and you’ll find few who’ve heard of it, and even fewer who’ve actually been to the 86-acre pool that serves as an ample reservoir for the Town of Waynesville’s drinking water. That’s because public access is restricted year-round. 

Women’s History Trail lands grant

A $740 grant from the Jim McRae Endowment for the Visual Arts will fuel efforts to create a Women’s History Trail in Macon County, celebrating the lives and accomplishments of Macon County women with a trail to “walk in her steps.”

Waynesville reservoir study could result in capacity increase

Pristine and nearly untouched by the hands of humans, the Town of Waynesville’s watershed has been hailed as a visionary acquisition by the town since its establishment around 1913.

By the numbers

Haywood water systems join forces to aid each other in times of need

From the control room of Canton’s water plant, a steady barrage of numbers flash across the computer monitors.

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