Rugged mountain tract

Unique projects of 2007. SERLC gave protection to ten new projects in 2007. Totaling 1,140 acres, the projects were wide and varied. Some of the highlights include rugged mountain lands with habitat for rare and watchlist species in North Carolina, a miniature gorge in the Alabama Ridge and Valley country, protection of trout stream and wildlife habitat in Georgia, and a unique development-reversal project for public benefit. Here are some glimpses of the projects.

In North Carolina we were pleased to embrace adding an additional 448 acres of rugged mountain land onto previous easements which together protect 891 contiguous acres. The overall project takes in high mountain ridges, diverse coves, mountain views, mature forests, wetlands, streams, rare species, rare natural communities, and quality wildlife habitat.

SERLC also protected a small, forested mountain tract with rare species. An important facet of this tract is that it will help to preserve the ecology and scenic quality of the nationally recognized Blue Ridge Parkway and Mountains-to-the-Sea Trail corridors.

In the Alabama Ridge and Valley, a small project will protect ravines that include a miniature gorge with rock grottoes. Home to a fox den, bigleaf magnolia (whose leaves can reach up to three feet in length), and other relatively common species, the site also provides potential habitat for uncommon species of plants, animals, and bryophytes due to the especially humid conditions and rock exposures.

Alabama Rock Grotto

Also in Alabama, a unique project is taking place. While the current trend in the US is for golf courses and developments to displace natural habitats at a rapid rate, this project will create a reverse process. An existing old golf course will be transformed into an exemplary park to conserve natural features and provide the public with exercise walking trails.

“Development” of the site will include habitat enhancement to increase ecological values of the tract. There will be plantings of native species, stream bank stabilization, removal of invasive exotic species that threaten native diversity, establishment of grasslands, and protection of wetlands, wetland buffers, open areas, and forests. Wetlands are essential for ecological integrity and the quality of human life in that they provide public values such as groundwater recharge, habitat for associated species, habitat diversity, pollution abatement, and flood control.
Stream restoration will reduce erosion, improve water quality, and enhance habitat. Since golf course maintenance chemicals are being discontinued, habitat quality for birds, macro-invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, and other species will improve. Habitat for butterflies as well as other fauna and flora will also be enhanced as the open lands are restored to increase native flowering species.

The public walking trails will be situated near a proposed municipal area and should increase public awareness and accessibility for exercise health benefits. The site also supplies an excellent canvas upon which creation of restoration natural areas can be studied for future projects elsewhere.

Our Georgia news includes two new additions. A small mountain tract protects forests and a trout stream corridor that border National Forest lands. A piedmont tract will retain 200 acres of wildlife habitat in an area near recreational lakes which is rapidly changing to residential and 2nd home developments.

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