FORECO Daily: Sunset Rock

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Another successful Forest Ecosystems of the Southern Appalachians. Here are some stats (now with emojis!): 
Almost 0 inches of rain 😲 🌞
~900ish miles driven 🚌
24 sites visited ⛰️
~50ish miles of hiking and running 
67 species of moths 🦋
900 Table Mountain Pine seedlings post-fire 🔥🌲👍
1 dozen chiggers (Julie Tuttle reports more)
8 awesome students 😀
3 wacky instructors 😜
9 special guests 👍
1 timber rattler 🐍
0 bears 🐻
1 broken arm 😨 
1 busted bus tire 
1900 caddis flies on the Chattooga
6 quarts of ice cream consumed 🍨
Another wonderful Forest Ecosystems ❤️🌲🦎🐝🐌🌻🥀🌳🌾🍁🕸️🦋🍦⛰️🔥🌈🌞

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FORECO Daily: Buck Creek

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Because of its unusual geology and serpentine soil with a skewed Ca:Mg ratio, Buck Creek lacks a closed tree canopy and supports an astounding plant community that includes many grasses as well as several locally endemic species–meaning that they’ve been seen nowhere else on Earth.  These plants can tolerate the high levels of heavy metals and the high levels of magnesium in the soil. Prescribed fire by the US Forest Service has helped restore this site and allow the many understory plants to proliferate. 

FORECO Daily: Cuthbert’s Turtlehead

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Rare habitats mean rare species. Cuthbert’s turtlehead (Chelone cuthbertii) has longer and larger leaves than others in its genus, and it’s restricted to mountain bog habitats like this one in Panthertown Valley. In the past, bogs were regularly filled or grazed, leaving rare species like the bog turtle and Cuthbert’s turtlehead without a home. Now these wetlands are recognized for their conservation value and are gaining better protection.