As Earth Day approaches, we encourage you to celebrate North Carolina’s natural treasures by visiting one our state’s protected wilderness areas. You don’t hear about it every day, but North Carolina has no less than twelve wilderness areas protecting 111,419 acres, as well as five wilderness study areas that conserve an additional 25,816 acres.
It took many years and the hard work of countless volunteers to secure wilderness designation for these efforts. Thanks to their efforts, in 2014, we can now celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964 and the North Carolina WIlderness Act of 1984!
Please enjoy this edition of Footnotes that focuses on wilderness. We hope it does justice to the history and provides inspiration for you to get outdoors and explore, enjoy, and protect these wild places! As John Muir once said, “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
And there’s more than just wilderness covered below, so read on for information about coal ash events, a television series focusing on climate change, outings galore, and more!
Your staff at the NC Sierra Club
Celebrate Wilderness In NC!
As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964 and the 30th anniversary of the North Carolina Wilderness Act of 1984, the Wilderness Committee invites you to participate in the upcoming special Anniversary Year Wilderness events.
- Save the Date – June 12, 5:30 – 8:00 pm – NC Wilderness Act 30th Anniversary Celebration – Raleigh, NC – Tickets available soon via OurWildNC.org.
- Explore Our Wild NC Challenge – Participants who visit all 12 wilderness areas and 5 wilderness study areas in the state will receive a checklist of all of the areas and a ‘Wilderness Explorer’ patch as they begin the challenge. Click here for details.
- Featured Wilderness Outing: Hawksbill and Table Rock Day Hike in the Linville Gorge Wilderness – Saturday, May 3 – With pristine views of Linville Gorge, Table Rock, Shortoff Mt. and Lake James, this is a hike worth joining. Only a few spots are left. Sign up today!
Volunteers Connecting Kids to Wilderness
In an age when children seem tethered to electronic devices and screens, the Chapter’s Wilderness Committee is hoping to put something young people’s hands, a bandana. The committee received a grant to produce up to 600 bandannas to distribute to children across the state. If you are wondering how a bandanna can help connect children to wilderness, well, then you likely haven’t seen the design yet.
Designed by Avery Locklear, a volunteer from the Foothills group, and Jody Cedzidlo of Pittsboro, the bandanna’s creators hope to educate children about how our state’s wilderness came to be protected and encourage then to explore nature.
Volunteers worked together last Sunday to screen print the first round of bandannas that will be given away at the Celebration of the MIlitary Child Outdoors near Camp Onslow Beach on April 26. Special thanks to Nancy Card, Kelly Mieszkalski, Pat Carstensen, Chris Bard, Miriam Chicurel-Bayard and Dustin Chicurel-Bayard for screen-printing the first run of this limited edition product.
Linville Gorge Wilderness
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the North Carolina Wilderness Act, each month we will highlight a wilderness area or a piece of history about how these areas became protected. This month, we celebrate the Linville Gorge Wilderness.
Linville Gorge was first recognized as a “wild area” in 1951 by the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. John D. Rockefeller funded its early protection, then the area was officially designated as wilderness by the US Wilderness Act of 1964. The NC Wilderness Act of 1984 added 3,400 acres, bringing the total to 11,786 acres today. The gorge, which is often called the “Grand Canyon of North Carolina” is located in Burke County, about 14 miles northwest of Morganton, NC. It was named in honor of the early explorer, William Linville, who along with his son, John, was scalped by Cherokee Indians in 1766; but many of the area’s attributes are named from Cherokee legends too.
The wilderness boasts more than 20 hiking trails, 2,800 acres of roadless area, and, because the steep terrain prohibited clearcutting, acres of virgin forests can be still be enjoyed. Elevations range from 1,300 feet at the river to 4,120 atop Gingercake Mountain. Other outstanding features include Wiseman’s View, Table Rock and Hawksbill Mountain.
Linville Gorge Wilderness is a favorite area for backpackers and rock climbers. Fishermen come hoping to hook brown, brook or rainbow trout from the Linville River rushing along the toe of the gorge. The area is also popular to wildlife including black bear, timber rattlers and peregrine falcons.
And in case you missed it, Linville Gorge Wilderness is the host of this month’s featured wilderness outing on May 3! Click here to claim one of the few remaining spots!
If you want to plan your own trip to Linville Gorge, here’s a link to the forest service page on the wilderness area. You can also click here for a map that will help you explore the Gorge!
Coal Ash & You
We wish we could take all of April to celebrating wilderness areas, but our other important work continues!. Surely you haven’t forgotten that nearly 40,000 tons of toxic coal ash burst into the Dan River this February. The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal team is making sure that Duke stockholders haven’t forgotten either.
There are two events coming up where you can participate and show your desire to have the Dan River, and all of the toxic coal ash pits in our state cleaned up! The events are listed below, but these aren’t the only chances you will have to speak up on the matter. When the legislature reconvenes next month, your legislators need to hear from you.
Email our lead organizer, Zak Keith, at email@example.com if you want to be a part of the Volunteer Lobby Corp that will work to push our legislators to act on cleaning up these toxic coal pits all across our state.
Then, join us to hold Duke Energy accountable!
April 30 – 7:30 – 8:30 p.m. – Candlelight Vigil to Remember the Impacts of Coal Ash – Charlotte, NC
Clergy from across the state to come to Charlotte on the eve of the Duke Energy shareholder meeting in a Light the Path Forward gathering, a candlelight vigil to remember the impacts of coal ash. Click here to RSVP on Facebook!
Location: New Duke Energy Headquarters, 550 South Tryon St., Charlotte, NC (map)
May 1 – 9:00 a.m. – Rally at Duke Energy Shareholders Meeting – Charlotte, NC
As shareholders of the country’s largest utility gather in Charlotte, concerned citizens with rally outside, demonstrating the public’s desire to move away from dirty energy and to embrace existing clean energy solutions.
Location: Old Duke Energy Headquarters, 526 S. Church St., Charlotte, NC (map)
Hundreds gather at Highland Brewery in Asheville for the premiere of the Years of Living Dangerously.
On Sunday, April 13, the Asheville Beyond Coal campaign rolled out the green carpet and welcomed around 300 activists, artists, local elected officials, business owners and clergy to watch the first episode of Years of Living Dangerously, Showtime’s new documentary on climate change.
Several local elected officials also made an appearance, including State Representative Joe Sam Queen, City Council Member Gwen Wisler, and County Commissioner Brownie Newman who recently championed a resolution setting carbon reduction goals for Buncombe County.
Event hosts took the opportunity to highlight the connection between carbon emissions and climate change, and the rapidly growing campaign to retire the Asheville coal plant. Attendants signed petitions, signed up to come to the Duke Energy shareholders’ meeting, and joined the online conversation by tweeting at Duke Energy and posting on Facebook.
The Asheville Beyond Coal campaign will be featured as part of the “Preacher’s Daughter” episode that will be airing in early May. Click here to watch WLOS’s news coverage of the event!
April 17 – 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. – U.S. Forest Service Discussion on Wilderness and Special Designated Areas – Asheville, NC
The public can give input on their favorite forest views, as well as how the U.S. Forest Service manages wilderness, specially designated areas and scenic views at this meeting. This public session is the latest in the three-phase, multi-year process of revising the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests Management Plan.
The plan is expected to be completed by 2016, and will guide management of Nantahala and Pisgah forests on how to manage for timber, wildlife, water, recreation and other uses, for the next 15 years.
Nantahala and Pisgah are two of four national forests in North Carolina, covering more than 1 million acres of the Western North Carolina mountains. Pisgah and Nantahala are among the most visited national forests in the nation, with more than 6 million visitors a year.
The April 17 meeting will focus on:
- Identification and inventory of areas that may be suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System.
- The process for identifying special designated areas.
- The Scenery Management System.
The six wilderness areas and five wilderness study areas being discussed make up about 9 percent of the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests. Those include the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock, Southern Nantahala and Ellicott Rock wildernesses in Nantahala National Forest, and Shining Rock, Middle Prong and Linville Gorge in Pisgah National Forest.
For more information on the plan, or to comment, visit www.fs.usda.gov/goto/nfsnc/nprevision
To participate in the wilderness and/or designated areas discussion, RSVP to NCPlanRevision@fs.fed.us by Thursday.
Location: Crowne Plaza Resort, 1 Resort Drive, Asheville, NC (map)
April 25 – 2nd Annual Sustainability Summit: The Planet, People, Economy, & Community – Wilson, NC
This event is presented by Wilson Community College, Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments, NC Sierra Club Medoc Chapter, and the Wilson Sustainable Community Council.
With a comprehensive agenda, and less than 100 tickets remaining, this year’s summit is surely going to be a hot event! Don’t miss your chance to be a part of the 2nd Annual Sustainability Summit. Click here to get your ticket today!
May 3-4 – Sierra Club Outings Leader Training – Sesquicentennial State Park, Columbia, SC
If you want to be a new Sierra Club Outings Leader, or if you want to renew or expand your current training, this training is for you!!!
Training will cover:
- OLT101 – Basic outdoor leadership training and a requirement for all Sierra Club Outings Leaders that must be renewed every 4 years.
- OLT201 – Advanced outdoor leadership training, recommended for all leaders and required for any Outings Leader who wants to lead Level 2 outings (outings that are overnight and away from cars).
- Watercraft Safety – Recommended for anyone who wants to lead canoe/kayak outings.
- CPR/First Aid – Basic first aid is required for all Sierra Club Outings leaders and must be renewed every 4 years.
Open to all current Sierra Club members. Click here to sign up!
For more information, contact: Kelly Mieszkalski, North Carolina Chapter Outings Chair, (919) 624-2225 or firstname.lastname@example.org
April 19- Grandfather Mountain Photography Workshop – Grandfather Mountain
Join the Sierra Club Foothills Group’s own award-winning 19-year old nature photographer, Avery Locklear, for a free outdoor photography workshop along the scenic Profile Trail at Grandfather Mountain State Park. Ms. Locklear, who also serves as Vice Chair for the Foothills Group, will be sharing her expertise for capturing the mountainous landscapes and the rare flowers of springtime at Grandfather Mountain. Be sure to check out Avery’s nature and wildlife photography on her website: http://www.averylocklearphotography.com
This photo hike and workshop is open to photographers of all ages and is family-friendly. Bring a camera of any kind, a tripod if you have one, water, and lunch. Because the weather at Grandfather Mountain can vary a great deal, dress in layers and be sure to include a wind-resistant outer layer. Advance registration is required; the event will be limited to 15 participants. To register, please contact Vance Parker by April 15, 2014 at email@example.com or at (336) 768-0481 before 10:00 p.m.
April 19 – Devil’s Courthouse to Flat Laurel Creek Trail – Asheville area
This 6 mile hike offers some beautiful vistas in addition to the panoramic view from Devil’s Courthouse. Hiker’s will learn about the ravens which congregate on the rock outcrops along the trail, and learn to identify them. The Mountains to Sea section is rather rugged, with intermittent tree roots and 10″ steps/rocks. Makes good footwear essential, and may be hiking poles as well.
The group will do a loop from Black Balsam parking area to MST going to Devil’s Courthouse, then return via Little Sam Knob trail, which connects to the Flat Laurel Creek trail. From Devil’s Courthouse, there is view of mountains across two state lines if visibility is good. Meet in Asheville at 10:00 am and return around 5:30 p.m.
This hike is for experienced hikers only. RSVP to hike leader Lisa McWherter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-713-4994.
April 19 – Discovering “The Poor Man’s Tarpon:” Shad Fishing on the Neuse River – Raleigh area
Learn about our native shad species, their habits and habitat, and enjoy an afternoon of shad fishing on the banks of the Neuse River. Called “the poor man’s tarpon” for their breaching, leaping, and tail-walking acrobatic performances, Shad fish are spawned in inland rivers and tributary creeks, migrate to the ocean to mature, and then return up river to spawn in their native streams. Our NC shad are sporty and historically important, a natural wonder right here at home, and a conservation success story.
Please note, this outing will be held on the Neuse River anywhere from Milburnie dam to Goldsboro, depending on where the latest fishing report indicates the shad are. Location will be announced before the outing. Most likely location Milburnie Dam.
Group size is limited to 6 people and participants need to have valid fishing license, rod and reel, and other items. Click here to RSVP or for more information: http://www.meetup.com/Sierra-Club-Capital-Group/
April 26- Discover Mountain Biking Adventure in the Great Smokey Mountains – Bryson City area
Join the Sierra Club and the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), the Southeas’’s premiere outdoor adventure outfitter, for a big day of mountain biking in the Smoky Mountains.This full day instructional activity is a great introduction to the sport of mountain biking. Get correctly fitted on your mountain bike and outfitted with the proper gear. Then head up to the Flint Ridge trail system to learn the basic skills needed to enjoy the sport of mountain biking. You will learn the basics in proper riding position, cornering, braking, shifting and riding skills. After lunch you will head to Tsali National Recreation Area, the “Southeast’s mountain biking mecca”, to test out your newly acquired skills by riding one of 4 different loops. This course emphasizes the sport of mountain biking, and enjoying the scenery and camaraderie of riding. Please see: http://www.noc.com/noccom/adventures/biking/mountain-biking/
The cost for this program, which includes one of NOC’s sturdy Specialized mountain bikes adjusted to the rider, a helmet, instruction, and a full day of riding is $119 per person. The charge for participants with their own mountain bike is $79/person. Camping will be available at Turkey Creek Campground near Tsali National Recreation Area on Friday night April 25th and Saturday night April 26th for $10/person plus $4/vehicle. Guests may remain in the area Sunday for more mountain biking, hiking, whitewater rafting, or zip lining conducted on their own.
This outing will be limited to 15 people with registration closing on April 12th, 2014. Please register in advance of this date with Vance Parker, at e-mail email@example.com or by telephone before 10:00 p.m. at 336-768-0481.
April 26- Beginner Backpacking in Uwharrie National Forest – Montgomery County
Join Sierrans to test your beginner backpacking skills in the little known Uwharrie National Forest, less than 2 hours from the Triangle. Then group will cover about 12 miles over 2 days using the Uwharrie Trail and Dutchman’s Creek Trail..
Those who can will meet in Raleigh at 8:00 am for caravanning to the Wood Run Trailhead, where the group will set out on foot down the Uwharrie Trail. Participants will backpack approximately 6 miles on Saturday and set up camp along Big Island Creek. Sunday morning the will pack up and continue back to the trailhead on the Dutchman’s Creek Trail, about 6 miles.
Group size for this trip is limited to 5 tents/15 people due to space restrictions of campsite. Please contact trip leaders at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-971-3788 for more information.
May 3 – Hawksbill and Table Rock Day Hike in the Linville Gorge Wilderness – Morganton area
This is the featured wilderness outing mentioned in the section above. Please click here for more information or to RSVP.