Forest Ecosystems Daily: Bogs from above and within, Panthertown Valley

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alan panthertown view

Look for the flat, treeless bog in Panthertown Valley from the summit of Little Green.

bogging at panthertown

Inside the Panthertown bog. Bogs are rare habitats and are home to many rare and specialized species.

sphagnum mosses 5 species

A soggy bouquet with five species of sphagnum: Sphagnum recurvum (green), S. capillifolium (yellow green), S. bartlettianum (red), S. angustifolium (yellow), S. fuscum or S. warnstorfii (brown).

Forest Ecosystems Daily: Wolf Mountain Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway

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Sticky false asphodel (Triantha glutinosa) in flower on the left and in fruit on the right, ekes out a living in the wet, dripping rock face on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Wolf Mountain overlook. Many plants take advantage of abundant light and moisture that are available where the road was blasted through to create the Parkway.

Sticky false asphodel (Triantha glutinosa) in flower on the left and in fruit on the right, ekes out a living below the wet, seepy rock face on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Many plants take advantage of abundant light and moisture that are available where the road was blasted through to create the Blue Ridge Parkway. Gorgeous hanging gardens are the happy and unexpected result. New plant for me!

Forest Ecosystems Daily: Carolina Northern Flying Squirrels (i.e., Not all plants all the time)

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Wildlife biologists Summer (L) and Cordie (R) joined us at Roan High Bluff to share their work on data collection methods for the elusive Carolina northern flying squirrel, Glaucomys sabrinus coloratus, a federally endangered specei

Wildlife biologists Summer Higdon (L) and Cordie Diggins (R) joined us at Roan High Bluff to share how they collect data for the elusive Carolina northern flying squirrel, Glaucomys sabrinus coloratus, a federally endangered species. Their niche in these high elevation spruce-fir forests, where they dig for truffles that grow just below the soil surface. At lower elevations, they are unable to compete with the more aggressive southern flying squirrel for nesting sites. They’ve trapped and radio-collared several squirrels at Roan High Bluff, luring them with an enticing recipe of molasses-peanut butter-bacon grease mixed with rolled oats on top of an apple.

Forest Ecosystems Daily: Mountain running adventure

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Sunday was our day off mid-course, so I planned a mountain running adventure on the Bartram Trail. The largest peak is Scaly Mountain, and I took the photo from Jones Gap at my turnaround spot. My car is 2 miles on the other side of Scaly. This is when two thoughts enter your mind: 1)

Sunday was our day off mid-course, so I planned a mountain running adventure on the Bartram Trail. I’d already run from the GA-NC border to Scaly Mountain when I was in Highlands last time, so I planned to run the next section starting at the Osage Mountain overlook. The largest peak is Scaly Mountain, and I took the photo from Jones Gap at my turnaround spot. My car is 2 miles on the other side of Scaly. This is when two thoughts entered my mind: 1) “Wow, I ran ALL THAT WAY!” 2) “And now I have to run back! Aaaaah!!!”

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Adventure, challenge, beauty and solitude…thankful for all these things today.

Forest Ecosystems Daily: Outdoor classroom

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classroom with a view

Our half-day on Saturday took us to the summit of Satulah Mountain to learn about the gnarly plants that can eke out a living on these exposed granite domes. The classroom does not get any better than this! On our hike back, we saw a momma bear and three cubs trying to get into a dumpster at a new home site. 

Forest Ecosystems Daily: Classifying Communities

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At Ellicott Rock National Wilderness, we challenged students to assess the forest community, examining a small plot area in detail. Teams recorded species and percent cover in the canopy, mid-story, shrub, and herb layers, as well as measured the slope, aspect, plot profile and section, elevation, and soil depth and texture. Using a key, we then identified the community as an Appalachian Montane Oak-Hickory Forest (Typic Acidic Type). Knowing the community type can help protect rare species, for example, and are critical for conservation. [Plus, plants don’t run away.]

Forest Ecosystems Daily: Forest cathedral

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joyce kilmer hiking

No visit to the southern Appalachians is complete without a visit to Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, near Robbinsville, NC. If you look carefully, you can see several attributes of old growth cove hardwood forests: very large trees, a diverse understory of wildflowers, and trees of many sizes. Joyce Kilmer is one of the last remnants of old growth cove hardwood forest in the East. Walking among these forest giants is a spiritual experience.