Conservation is the act of preserving, guarding, or protecting; and includes the wise use of our natural environment.
The Mountain High Hikers, Inc. supports all conservation efforts and participates in several conservation efforts to help preserve the trails and the natural ecosystem:
If you are interested in information regarding volunteers, please contact the MHH Conservation Director, Kim Blankenship (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The State Botanical Garden of Georgia has listed these nurseries to help home gardeners find ethical sources of plant species native to Georgia.
Each year between January 15 and August 15, the U.S. Forest Service closes several rock faces in western North Carolina to recreational activities, including rock climbing, to protect the rare peregrine falcons that nest there. Peregrine falcons mate for life and return to the same site each year to nest. If the pair is disturbed, they will leave the site and may not nest again until the following year.
Activities that are prohibited to reduce disturbance to nesting and fledgling falcons includes rock climbing, rappelling, ice climbing, bouldering, hang gliding, and slacklining. Drone use on the rock faces themselves and flying drones in the vicinity of the rock faces and within posted areas is also prohibited. Overnight camping within posted areas is not allowed. Through-hiking on designated trails is permitted within the posted boundaries but hikers should not approach the rock faces listed in the table (See Link)
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) monitors nesting sites with the help of volunteers, including the Carolina Climbers Coalition. In 2019 across western North Carolina, 12 sites were occupied by peregrine falcon pairs and 7 successfully reproduced with a total of 13 offspring. Three additional sites were occupied by a single, unpaired bird. NCWRC staff found a pair nesting in the far north end of Shortoff Mountain, in an unclimbed area that lies north of False Paradise. This may be the same pair that nested at “Shortoff South” and NCWRC biologists will assess both sites this year.
Avoid activities at the rock cliffs in the following areas when they are posted closed:
For more information on peregrine falcons see:
The Foothills Landscape Project is the single most important Forest Service action in Georgia in the last 15 years. The Foothills Landscape Project is a massive forest management plan proposed by the U.S. Forest Service in the Chattahoochee National Forest and is the single most important Forest Service proposal in Georgia in the last 15 years. Stretching over 157,000 acres (almost double the size of the city of Atlanta), the project proposes the use of logging, herbicides, and prescribed fire to manage forests while also altering trails and roads. It is still unclear how and when input on specific actions will be considered by organizations like Georgia ForestWatch (GAFW) and concerned citizens – like yourself.
Public input by organizations like GAFW, and that of concerned citizens, is crucial to both our mission and the appropriate management of our national forests.
GAFW has been involved in the Foothills project from its inception, and with your support, will see the project through its lifespan. Georgia ForestWatch is committed to thoughtful consideration of this immense project and its lasting impacts, yet concerns remain that the Foothills Landscape Project is still too vague to appropriately address when and where there will be opportunity for public input. GAFW, and many partner organizations, overwhelmingly believe that each distinct action must receive the proper analysis and input by the community mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
This is why Georgia ForestWatch and partners: Southern Environmental Law Center, Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club, Chattooga Conservancy, and The Wilderness Society filed a formal objection to the Foothills Decision Notice. Our concerns, previously raised at every step in the process, are threefold.
Georgia Forest Watch is asking hikers to help eradicate an invasive species coming in after the recent fires in the Cohuttas. Winter seems the best time to do this. Please access more information below:
“2016 fall's wildfires were a threat in many ways: they forced people to evacuate, killed patches of forest canopy, and smoked in towns. The biggest threat to our forests, though, may just now be getting started. The Rough Ridge Fire produced ideal conditions for non-native princess trees to reproduce and invade the Cohutta Wilderness. Native to Asia, princess tree's extraordinarily fast growth allows them to out-compete and choke out native species. Populations are beginning to explode in the Cohuttas. To help get this situation under control before the problem becomes too big to deal with, the first step is finding out exactly where the problem is.
We need volunteers to hike the trails in and around the Cohutta Wilderness and record where you see princess tree seedlings. Seedlings are easy to identify, and equipment, nothing more than a smartphone or GPS unit, can be provided if needed. If you haven't hiked in the Cohuttas since the fire, know that the area is as beautiful as ever. Keeping the Cohuttas from turning into a grove of princess trees will be an ongoing process. Georgia ForestWatch will work with the Forest Service to document locations of princess trees and assist in their removal from the Cohuttas. For that to work, though, we need help to quickly assess the situation. Please contact Georgia ForestWatch at 706-867-0051 or email Jess Riddle (email@example.com) if you would like to help.”
We need all of the trails in the fire area surveyed for princess trees, essentially all of the trails west of the Jacks River. Whenever you feel like hiking in that area, if you would just record and send to me the location of any princess trees you see, that would be great. GPS coordinates from a phone or GPS unit are best. Putting an “X” on a topographic map works too. If you hike a trail and don’t see any, that’s helpful information too. I’m not sure how familiar you are with princess tree, so here are a few highlights of what to look for. In the winter the easiest thing to look for are the pods on mature trees. Each pod is about the size of a golf ball and pointed at one end. The pods come in branched clusters about a foot long. The trees are also distinctive because they have big thick twigs, as wide as your finger or wider, with a very open branch structure (lots of space between twigs). They’re a medium sized tree. Right now, we only know of mature trees along the streams, where water occasionally washes the soil bare. In spring, the leaves will make the seedlings stand out. The leaves are big and roughly heart shaped, kind of like a basswood or grape leaf. You can tell them apart because they are often even bigger, sometimes dinner plate size or even larger, and hairy. The leaves also come in pairs on the twigs. Instead of taking turns going up the twig, you will have a pair of leaves opposite each other, then bare twig, then a pair of leaves…. The seedlings could be anywhere in the burned area, from the Jacks River west.
These sites have more info on the trees
And this site has good photos
Once we have a good grasp on where the princess trees are, we’ll coordinate with the Forest Service on some workdays and other programs to actually get rid of them.
The below web sites provide information in regards to Georgia and North Carolina representatives who should be contacted regarding a particular conservation issue.
1. GA US Senators and US Representatives
2. GA Senators and Representatives
3. North Carolina US Senators and US Representatives
4. North Carolina Senators and Representatives