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Conservation

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  (khblan6@yahoo.com)

Foothills Landscape Project

 

The  Forest Service has just announced THE three dates for in-person, public  input before the Foothills Landscape Project is started.

The Forest needs your participation and voice. 

The  Foothills Landscape Project spans from the South Carolina border to  Chatsworth and encompasses 157,625 acres, more than a fifth of the  entire Chattahoochee National Forest. The project includes vegetation,  road, and recreation management, and proposes up to 55,000 acres of  commercial timber harvests and 63,000 acres of herbicide application. It  also includes some of our most cherished places: 

  • the lower Chattooga River, well-known for whitewater rafting, and one of our major wildlife habitat corridors
  • the  Jake and Bull Mountain trails, enjoyed by mountain bikers and horseback  enthusiasts, and one of the most popular multi-use trail systems on the  forest
  • Grassy Mountain, home to the biggest block of old growth forest we have left in north Georgia
  • The  Foothills are the gateway to the mountains, and the effects of this  project will be difficult to avoid when visiting the mountains.  Previously, the Forest Service has pursued logging and land management  projects one watershed at a time, leaving similar areas untouched. But  with Foothills, they’re doing the entire landscape–and if they take the  wrong approach, the whole area will be impacted. The scale of the  project and lack of information identifying what and where require us to  call on your presence and participation to continuing protecting and  preserving the Chattahoochee National Forest. 
  • You  can read more on the breadth and specifics of this 157,625 acre at our  website:   https://gafw.org/foothills-community-meetings-december-2019/.

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Mountain High Hikers Conservation Update December 2017

 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 (jriddle@gafw.org)  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

http://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/syllabus/factsheet.cfm?ID=145

https://www.se-eppc.org/manual/princess.html

And this site has good photos

https://www.marylandbiodiversity.com/viewSpecies.php?species=2783

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.


Jess Riddle 

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POLITICAL LEADERS'

 

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 

  https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/GA


2.  GA Senators and Representatives

  http://www.house.ga.gov/Representatives/en-US/HouseMembersList.aspx

  http://www.senate.ga.gov/senators/en-US/SenateMembersList.aspx


 3.  North Carolina US Senators and US Representatives

  https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/NC


4.  North Carolina Senators and Representatives

  https://www.ncleg.gov/Members/MemberList/S

    https://www.ncleg.gov/Members/MemberList/H