Recent News

Join PAC for a Farm Tour of Mushroom Mountain

Polk County News Journal and The News Leader, 6/7/17

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) invites the public to attend a field trip to Mushroom Mountain, in Easley, SC. Mycologist and founder of Mushroom Mountain, Tradd Cotter, will lead a Farm Tour of his facility which currently maintains over 200 species of fungi for food production and a laboratory space for research.

The tour of Mushroom Mountain will include an introduction to fungal ecology and life cycles, laboratory tour and research overviews, and the fruiting room. Many aspects of mushrooms, including medicinal properties, cooking, and mycoremediation to soil creation will be discussed along the way!  This is sure to be an experience that will last a lifetime…for all ages!

Tradd Cotter is a microbiologist, professional mycologist, and organic gardener, who has been tissue culturing, collecting native fungi in the Southeast, and cultivating both commercially and experimentally for more than twenty-two years. In 1996, he founded Mushroom Mountain, which he owns and operates with his wife, Olga, to explore applications for mushrooms in various industries, food production, mycoremediation of environmental pollutants, and as natural alternatives to chemical pesticides. His primary interest is in low-tech and no-tech cultivation strategies so that anyone can grow mushrooms on just about anything, anywhere in the world.  Mushroom Mountain is currently expanding to 42,000 square feet of laboratory and research space near Greenville, South Carolina, to accommodate commercial production, as well as mycoremediation projects.

Pre-registration is required, there is a small fee to attend the Farm Tour, and there is a maximum 30 participants who can attend.  Register at http://mushroommountain.com/products/junetour, and contact PAC to sign up for the field trip.

Participants are asked to meet at the PAC office, 2060 Lynn Road, Suite 1, Columbus, NC 28722, at 12:15 p.m. on June 14th to arrange carpooling and begin the approximately 1 hour and 15-minute drive to Mushroom Mountain, 200 Finley Rd, Easley, SC 29642.  The Farm Tour begins at 2 p.m.

For more information or to sign up for the field trip, contact the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060 or e-mail landprotection@pacolet.org.

PAC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization (land trust) founded in 1989 to protect and conserve natural resources in the Foothills of North Carolina and the Upstate of South Carolina, with emphasis on the lands and waterways with scenic, ecologic or agricultural significance in the North Pacolet and Green River watersheds (PACs mission).  PAC works with area landowners to ensure the long-term protection of their property through voluntary conservation easements (agreements) which enable landowners to maintain ownership of their property, preserving precious natural resources (open lands, forests, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, farmland, stream banks, etc.), and potentially obtain significant federal and local tax benefits.  PACs vision is a community living and growing in harmony with our natural resources and or goal is to provide a legacy that will endure and be valued by generations to come.  PAC works diligently to provide leadership to encourage conservation and provide education programs emphasizing native species appreciation and responsible land use practices to help – save the places you love.

~ By Pam Torlina

Farm Tour


Polk County’s Most Wanted Plant: Southern Nodding Trillium

Polk County News Journal, 6/7/17

In a joint effort to expand the knowledge and understanding of the flora and fauna of Polk County, the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and botanist, David Campbell need your help in locating this month’s “Polk County’s Most Wanted-Plant,” the beautiful and elusive spring ephemeral, Southern Nodding Trillium (Trillium rugelii).

With large white flowers and strikingly recurved petals, Southern Nodding Trillium is a distinctive and readily identifiable species of our spring flora.  Between 12-18 inches in height, with a flower that is found underneath the three leaves, one must often get on hands and knees to fully appreciate the beauty of this plant (and to gain an appreciation for its common name as a result). The anthers are typically dark purple, although sometimes a somewhat lighter shade. Occasionally, one may encounter specimens with maroon flowers.  Leaves are plain and are not mottled.  Flowering occurs from late March to early May, depending on elevation.

Southern Nodding Trillium is a denizen of rich woodlands with circumneutral to basic pH levels. Known from approximately one dozen counties in North Carolina, Southern Nodding Trillium is infrequently encountered and it exists in scattered locations.  Polk County has many areas underlain by mafic rocks that give rise to the type of soils favored by this species.  When searching, look for alluvial terraces adjacent to streams, creeks, and rivers, especially if Spicebush is growing there.

If you feel that you have seen Southern Nodding Trillium, or any other Polk County’s Most Wanted species, please contact staff at the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060, or e-mail comments, questions, or photos to landprotection@pacolet.org.

All of the Polk County’s Most Wanted can be viewed on the PAC website, www.pacolet.org.  Click on the “conservation” tab and scroll down and click on the “Polk County’s Most Wanted” tab.

PAC has also created a “Pocket Guide” of “Polk County’s Most Wanted” that can be printed and taken in the field!  The pocket guide can be accessed on PAC’s website too.

PAC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization (land trust) founded in 1989 to protect and conserve natural resources in the Foothills of North Carolina and the Upstate of South Carolina, with emphasis on the lands and waterways with scenic, ecologic or agricultural significance in the North Pacolet and Green River watersheds (PACs mission).  PAC works with area landowners to ensure the long-term protection of their property through voluntary conservation easements (agreements) which enable landowners to maintain ownership of their property, preserving precious natural resources (open lands, forests, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, farmland, stream banks, etc.), and potentially obtain significant federal and local tax benefits.  PACs vision is a community living and growing in harmony with our natural resources and or goal is to provide a legacy that will endure and be valued by generations to come.  PAC works diligently to provide leadership to encourage conservation and provide education programs emphasizing native species appreciation and responsible land use practices to help – save the places you love.

~ By David Campbell

Southern Nodding Trillium_Bill Sharpton

Southern Nodding Trillium (Trillium rugelii) Photo by Bill Sharpton


Tryon Daily Bulletin, 6/6/17

June Landrum Library Program


Tryon Daily Bulletin, 6/4/17

NC Land Trust Day


Polk County’s Most Wanted – Plant

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 6/4/17

In a joint effort to expand the knowledge and understanding of the flora and fauna of Polk County, the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and botanist, David Campbell need your help in locating this month’s “Polk County’s Most Wanted-Plant,” the beautiful and elusive spring ephemeral, Southern Nodding Trillium (Trillium rugelii).

 With large white flowers and strikingly recurved petals, Southern Nodding Trillium is a distinctive and readily identifiable species of our spring flora.  Between 12-18 inches in height, with a flower that is found underneath the three leaves, one must often get on hands and knees to fully appreciate the beauty of this plant (and to gain an appreciation for its common name as a result). The anthers are typically dark purple, although sometimes a somewhat lighter shade. Occasionally, one may encounter specimens with maroon flowers.  Leaves are plain and are not mottled.  Flowering occurs from late March to early May, depending on elevation.

Southern Nodding Trillium is a denizen of rich woodlands with circumneutral to basic pH levels. Known from approximately one dozen counties in North Carolina, Southern Nodding Trillium is infrequently encountered and it exists in scattered locations.  Polk County has many areas underlain by mafic rocks that give rise to the type of soils favored by this species.  When searching, look for alluvial terraces adjacent to streams, creeks, and rivers, especially if Spicebush is growing there.

If you feel that you have seen Southern Nodding Trillium, or any other Polk County’s Most Wanted species, please contact staff at the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060, or e-mail comments, questions, or photos to landprotection@pacolet.org.

All of the Polk County’s Most Wanted can be viewed on the PAC website, www.pacolet.org.  Click on the conservation tab and scroll down and click on the Polk County’s Most Wanted tab.

PAC has also created a Pocket Guide of Polk County’s Most Wanted that can be printed and taken in the field.  The pocket guide can be accessed on PAC’s website too.

~ written by David Campbell

Southern Nodding Trillium_Bill Sharpton

Southern Nodding Trillium (Trillium rugelii) (photo by Bill Sharpton)


Join PAC for a farm tour of Mushroom Mountain

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 6/1/17

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) invites the public to attend a field trip to Mushroom Mountain, in Easley, SC. Mycologist and founder of Mushroom Mountain, Tradd Cotter, will lead a Farm Tour of his facility which currently maintains over 200 species of fungi for food production and a laboratory space for research.

The tour of Mushroom Mountain will include an introduction to fungal ecology and life cycles, laboratory tour and research overviews, and the fruiting room. Many aspects of mushrooms, including medicinal properties, cooking, and mycoremediation to soil creation will be discussed along the way.

Tradd Cotter is a microbiologist, professional mycologist, and organic gardener, who has been tissue culturing, collecting native fungi in the Southeast, and cultivating both commercially and experimentally for more than twenty-two years.

In 1996, he founded Mushroom Mountain, which he owns and operates with his wife, Olga, to explore applications for mushrooms in various industries, food production, mycoremediation of environmental pollutants, and as natural alternatives to chemical pesticides.

His primary interest is in low-tech and no-tech cultivation strategies so that anyone can grow mushrooms on just about anything, anywhere in the world.  Mushroom Mountain is currently expanding to 42,000 square feet of laboratory and research space near Greenville, South Carolina, to accommodate commercial production, as well as mycoremediation projects.

Participants are asked to meet at the PAC office, 2060 Lynn Road, Suite 1, Columbus, NC 28722, at 12:15 p.m. on June 14th to arrange carpooling and begin the approximately 1 hour and 15-minute drive to Mushroom Mountain in Easley.  The Farm Tour begins at 2 p.m.

Pre-registration is required, there is a small fee to attend the farm tour, and there is a maximum 30 participants who can attend.  Register online at http://mushroommountain.com/products/junetour, and contact PAC at 828-859-5060 or e-mail landprotection@pacolet.org to sign up.

~ article submitted by Pam Torlina

Farm Tour


“Owls, Masters of the Night”

Polk County News Journal and The News Leader, 5/31/17

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and the Landrum Library invite the public to attend a free program on “Owls – Masters of the Night,” presented by naturalist and educator, Carlton Burke.  The program will be held at the Landrum Library, 111 East Asbury Drive Landrum, SC, on Thursday, June 8 at 2:00 p.m. as part of the Landrum Library’s Summer Reading Program for children.

Owls are mysterious birds of prey which are seldom seen due to their nocturnal lifestyle and secretive habits. This program will introduce the fascinating lives of these unusual birds and their unique adaptations for life in their nighttime world.  The program will feature live owls as guests and will be a great program to bring your children to!

This program is made possible thanks to a Free Community Events grant from the Polk County Community Foundation (PCCF).

For more information, contact the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060 or e-mail landprotection@pacolet.org, or contact the Landrum Library, 864-457-2218.  Keep an eye on the PAC website, www.pacolet.org, for information on upcoming PAC/Landrum Library programs.  The next scheduled program at the Landrum Library will take place on July 18th at 6:00 p.m. when naturalist, Tim Lee will present, “Salamanders of the Carolinas” at Family Fun Night.

~ By Pam Torlina

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Naturalist Carlton Burke holds a Great Horned Owl, just one of the beautiful owls that will be at the June 8 presentation.


North Carolina Land Trust Day

Polk County News Journal, 5/31/17

North Carolina Land Trust Day was created in 1992 to recognize the role that North Carolina’s 24 nonprofit land trusts play in protecting the state’s streams, forests, parks, and scenic vistas for generations to come.  It is held each year on the first Saturday in June to coincide with American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day.

The community is asked to support conservation on this day.  Those individuals that value the natural resources and scenic places preserved by land trusts are asked to donate to their local land trust in support of land and water conservation.  Contributions are used to help local land trusts continue to protect our precious natural resources.

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC), your local Land Trust, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit land trust which was founded in 1989 to protect and conserve natural resources in the Foothills of North Carolina and the Upstate of South Carolina, with emphasis on the lands and waterways with scenic, ecologic or agricultural significance in the North Pacolet and Green River watersheds (PACs mission).  PAC works with area landowners to ensure the long-term protection of their property through voluntary conservation easements (agreements) which enable landowners to maintain ownership of their property, preserving important natural resources (open lands, forests, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, farmland, stream banks, etc.), and potentially obtain significant federal and local tax benefits.  PACs vision is a community living and growing in harmony with our natural resources and or goal is to provide a legacy that will endure and be valued by generations to come.  PAC works diligently to provide leadership to encourage conservation and provide education programs emphasizing native species appreciation and responsible land use practices to help – save the places you love.

To date, PAC has helped to protect over 9,780 acres providing clean air and drinking water, habitat for our native flora and fauna, farm land for locally grown food, and places where children and adults alike can go to enjoy nature.

For more information about PAC or to donate online visit the website at www.pacolet.org.

~ By Pam Torlina

NC Land Trust Day


A great day for a hike with PAC and pups from FHS

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 5/26/17

Eleven folks joined the May 13  Pacolet Area Conservancy’s (PAC) Pam Torlina and the Foothills Humane Society’s (FHS) Sam Austin for a 5.5-mile hike at Chestnut Ridge Heritage Preserve.  Six FHS shelter dogs got to take a break from the shelter for a hike in the beautiful preserve and a splash in the South Pacolet River, and some folks brought their own dogs for the hike.

Visit the FHS website, www.foothillshumanesociety.org, for more information about adopting or sponsoring these dogs or to view other adoptable pets.

FHS Hike Photo

Pictured, from left to right: Andrew Mohammed with Cody (an FHS pup in need of adoption), Gale Stockdale with Scarlett (an FHS pup in need of adoption), Dianne Joyce with her dog Gwendolyn, Monica Stevenson with her dogs Ziggy and Maggie, Ford Smith with Cory (an FHS pup in need of adoption), Jade Blakey with Mischief (an adopted FHS pup), Craig and Melissa Auen with their dog Bear, PAC’s Pam Torlina with Ranger (an FHS pup in need of adoption), and Sarah Mohammed with Maverick (an FHS pup in need of adoption).  Not pictured: Juanita Bruce and FHS’s Sam Austin and Bill Herrington with their dogs Jazz and Laken.  (Photo by Sam Austin)


Carlton Burke: “Owls – Masters of the Night”

The Nocturnal lives of owls subject of PAC program

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 5/26/17

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and the Landrum Library invite the public to attend a free program on “Owls – Masters of the Night,” presented by naturalist and educator, Carlton Burke.  The program will be held at the Landrum Library, 111 East Asbury Drive Landrum, SC, on Thursday, June 8 at 2:00 p.m. as part of the Landrum Library’s Summer Reading Program for children.

Owls are mysterious birds of prey which are seldom seen due to their nocturnal lifestyle and secretive habits. This program will introduce the fascinating lives of these unusual birds and their unique adaptations for life in their nighttime world.  The program will feature live owls as guests and will be a great program to bring your children to!

This program is made possible thanks to a Free Community Events grant from the Polk County Community Foundation (PCCF).

For more information, contact the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060 or e-mail landprotection@pacolet.org, or contact the Landrum Library, 864-457-2218.  Keep an eye on the PAC website, www.pacolet.org, for information on upcoming PAC/Landrum Library programs.  The next scheduled program at the Landrum Library will take place on July 18th at 6:00 p.m. when naturalist, Tim Lee will present, “Salamanders of the Carolinas” at Family Fun Night.

~ article submitted by Amy Schmitte [actually not submitted by Amy; submitted by Pam Torlina)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANaturalist Carlton Burke holds a Great Horned Owl, just one of the beautiful owls that will be at the June 8 presentation. (photo submitted by Pam Torlina)


Tryon Daily Bulletin, 5/25/17

May-WCP


PAC/WCP Program

“Amazing Fungi-The Dark Matter that Bounds all Life”

Polk County News Journal, 5/24/17

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and Walnut Creek Preserve (WCP) invite the public to attend a free presentation by Tradd Cotter, a mycologist and founder of Mushroom Mountain, on “Amazing Fungi – The Dark Matter that Bounds all Life.”  The program will be held at the Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center at Walnut Creek Preserve on Saturday, May 27th, at 10:30 a.m.

Join mushroom expert, Tradd Cotter, for a fascinating lecture on native plants and their fungal partners. In order to sustain life on this planet, a complex matrix of organisms has evolved to orchestrate the balance. Plants and fungi have merged and continue to unveil the benefits of collaborating with nature. We have a lot to learn from these relationships, and understanding the respect they have for each other can teach us more than just soil biology. Our native plant communities are communicating through their own internet, reaching out to other organisms to help repair the ecosystems that perpetuate life on this planet.

Tradd Cotter is a microbiologist, professional mycologist, and organic gardener, who has been tissue culturing, collecting native fungi in the Southeast, and cultivating both commercially and experimentally for more than twenty-two years. In 1996 he founded Mushroom Mountain, which he owns and operates with his wife, Olga, to explore applications for mushrooms in various industries and currently maintains over 200 species of fungi for food production, mycoremediation of environmental pollutants, and natural alternatives to chemical pesticides. His primary interest is in low-tech and no-tech cultivation strategies so that anyone can grow mushrooms on just about anything, anywhere in the world. Mushroom Mountain is currently expanding to 42,000 square feet of laboratory and research space near Greenville, South Carolina, to accommodate commercial production, as well as mycoremediation projects.

Tradd will have copies of his book, “Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation,” for sale after the presentation for those interested.  PAC also has a field trip/farm tour planned at Mushroom Mountain on June 14th!  Visit, http://mushroommountain.com/products/junetour, to register and sign up at PAC by emailing, landprotection@pacolet.org.

To get to Walnut Creek Preserve’s Nature Center from the Rutherfordton area, take Hwy. 108 west to Big Level Road, turn right.  Go approximately 5 ½ miles to Aden Green Road and turn right.  Follow Aden Green Road for 4/10th of a mile and turn left on Wood Thrush Lane and into Walnut Creek Preserve.  Take the first left onto Conservatory Lane which takes to you to the parking area for the Nature Center.  (GPS coordinates to the Nature Center are available at the PAC website.)

For more information or directions from another location, contact the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060 or e-mail landprotection@pacolet.org.  The next PAC/WCP program will be held on June 17th, when Tanya Poole, NCWRC Education Specialist, will present, “For the Love of Bats!” at the Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center at 10:30 a.m.

For more information about Walnut Creek Preserve, visit www.walnutcreekpreserve.com.  Please note, Walnut Creek Preserve is private property and guests are only allowed on the property by invitation (a planned event or scheduled group).  Thank you.

PAC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization (land trust) founded in 1989 to protect and conserve natural resources in the Foothills of North Carolina and the Upstate of South Carolina, with emphasis on the lands and waterways with scenic, ecologic or agricultural significance in the North Pacolet and Green River watersheds (PACs mission).  PAC works with area landowners to ensure the long-term protection of their property through voluntary conservation easements (agreements) which enable landowners to maintain ownership of their property, preserving precious natural resources (open lands, forests, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, farmland, stream banks, etc.), and potentially obtain significant federal and local tax benefits.  PACs vision is a community living and growing in harmony with our natural resources and or goal is to provide a legacy that will endure and be valued by generations to come.  PAC works diligently to provide leadership to encourage conservation and provide education programs emphasizing native species appreciation and responsible land use practices to help – save the places you love.

~article by Pam Torlina

Tradd CotterTradd Cotter, the May 27 PAC/WCP presenter, holding a large coral fungi


Fungi With A Fun Guy

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 5/23/17

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and Walnut Creek Preserve (WCP) invite the public to attend a free presentation by Tradd Cotter, a mycologist and founder of Mushroom Mountain, on “Amazing Fungi – The Dark Matter that Bounds all Life.”  The program will be held at the Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center at Walnut Creek Preserve on Saturday, May 27th, at 10:30 a.m.

Join mushroom expert, Tradd Cotter, for a fascinating lecture on native plants and their fungal partners. In order to sustain life on this planet, a complex matrix of organisms has evolved to orchestrate the balance. Plants and fungi have merged and continue to unveil the benefits of collaborating with nature. We have a lot to learn from these relationships, and understanding the respect they have for each other can teach us more than just soil biology. Our native plant communities are communicating through their own internet, reaching out to other organisms to help repair the ecosystems that perpetuate life on this planet.

Tradd Cotter is a microbiologist, professional mycologist, and organic gardener, who has been tissue culturing, collecting native fungi in the Southeast, and cultivating both commercially and experimentally for more than twenty-two years.

In 1996 he founded Mushroom Mountain, which he owns and operates with his wife, Olga, to explore applications for mushrooms in various industries and currently maintains over 200 species of fungi for food production, mycoremediation of environmental pollutants, and natural alternatives to chemical pesticides.

His primary interest is in low-tech and no-tech cultivation strategies so that anyone can grow mushrooms on just about anything, anywhere in the world. Mushroom Mountain is currently expanding to 42,000 square feet of laboratory and research space near Greenville, South Carolina, to accommodate commercial production, as well as mycoremediation projects.

Tradd will have copies of his book, “Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation,” for sale after the presentation for those interested.  PAC also has a field trip/farm tour planned at Mushroom Mountain on June 14th!  Visit, http://mushroommountain.com/products/junetour, to register and sign up at PAC by emailing, landprotection@pacolet.org.

For more information or directions from another location, contact the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060 or e-mail landprotection@pacolet.org.  The next PAC/WCP program will be held on June 17th, when Tanya Poole, NCWRC Education Specialist, will present, “For the Love of Bats!” at the Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center at 10:30 a.m.

For more information about Walnut Creek Preserve, visit www.walnutcreekpreserve.com.  Please note, Walnut Creek Preserve is private property and guests are only allowed on the property by invitation (a planned event or scheduled group).

~ article submitted by Pam Torlina

Tradd CotterTradd Cotter is a microbiologist, professional mycologist and organic gardener who has been tissue culturing, collecting native fungi in the Southeast, and cultivating both commercially and experimentally for more than 22 years.  Founder of Mushroom Mountain, Cotter, pictured at right with a large coral fungi, together with Pacolet Area Conservancy and Walnut Creek Preserve, invite the public to a talk called “Amazing Fungi – The Dark Matter that Bounds all Life” on May 27.  (Photo used with permission, submitted by Pam Torlina)


Land trusts save land, lend a hand to affordable housing

Asheville Citizen-Times, 5/21/17

COLUMBUS — The idea started with the view of a beautiful mountain, as many things do in this scenic, mountain-filled section of the world.

The forested ridgeline of the Little White Oak Mountain is a prominent and prized peak that can be seen from points throughout rural Polk County, which sits on the South Carolina border.

The 1,060-acre parcel, nestled between the 14,000-acre Green River Game Land and the town of Columbus, was recently purchased for $2.38 million by the Hendersonville-based Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy.

The transaction was ostensibly made to protect the scenic views, rare plant species and wildlife habitat. But in an unusual move, this land conservation purchase served not only to protect space for biodiversity, bears and birds, but for a human dimension. A parcel of the coveted land will be set aside for much-needed housing affordable to the middle-income workforce.

It is thought to be the first time in Western North Carolina’s land trust history that a nonprofit land conservancy is investing in this sort of land use. The Little White Oak Mountain property will be partly used to build workforce housing, considered to be housing affordable for those in the public sector, such as teachers and police officers, as well as hospital, retail and restaurant workers.

“There’s a lot of action around land trusts using conservation easements for affordable housing now, but the Pacolet Area Conservancy and the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy are the first to actually put it on the ground, which is pretty incredible,” said Jess Laggis, director of Blue Ridge Forever, a coalition of WNC land trusts.

“There is a strong need for affordable housing in Asheville, but I think it’s grown beyond Asheville. This is timely and interesting that they are working on this project.”

The traditional role of land trusts or conservancies, which began to take hold within the past four decades, was to protect rapidly diminishing open spaces and mountain views, such as those seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway, wildlife habitat and corridors, drinking water sources and pristine trout streams, as well as agriculturally important lands and those with great natural resource significance.

Protection of the Little White Oak Mountain project is trending as the next chapter in land protection, intersecting with one of the greatest needs in WNC – affordable housing.

Little White Oak Mountain May 18, 2017. (Photo: Angela Wilhelm/awilhelm@citizen-times.com)

Joining land trusts for a bigger bang

Little White Oak Mountain, just north of downtown Columbus, rises to 2,300 feet in elevation and contains more than 13 miles of streams, including White Oak Creek and the South Branch of Little Whiteoak Creek, which flow into the French Broad River.

The scenic ridgeline and south facing slopes of the mountain had been slated in the mid-2000s as the site for a 687-unit residential development known as the Foster Creek Preserve.

But land protection workers with the Pacolet Area Conservancy, based in the Polk County town of Tryon, also had their eye on the land. For more than a decade, Pam Torlina, PAC director of stewardship and land protection, saw value in keeping the mountain covered in trees.

The PAC at one point worked with the previous owner on a plan to protect the high-elevation part of the property with a conservation easement. Although the easement never came to fruition, PAC stayed in contact with the owners and, working with Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, approached the American Land Fund again in 2015.

“We found a federally endangered flower, the white irisette, which has only been found in the North Carolina counties of Henderson, Polk and Rutherford,” Torlina said.

“We were really interested in trying to protect the upper portion of property if not the whole tract. There were several developers over the past decade. Recently they were ready to sell again and not do a donation or conservation easement.”

In a recent move to join forces with the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, a deal was hatched to purchase the land.

“We started talking a few years back and the more we talked the more we realized we had a lot in common. We thought it would make all the sense in the world to work more closely together,” said Kieran Roe, executive director of the conservancy, which was formed in the early ‘90s and has 16 staff members.

The Pacolet Area Conservancy, formed in 1989 to protect the Pacolet River area, has one full and one part-time staffer.

Pam Torlina (Photo: Courtesy of Pam Torlina)

Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy works in Henderson and Transylvania counties, the Hickory Nut Gorge, southeastern Buncombe and Rutherford counties, and parts of Jackson and Polk counties.

“Our hope would be to create a stronger regional organization that could serve that region more effectively, building membership, local support and bring in local volunteer and create a more sustainable organization over time,” Roe said.

While a new name is being considered, the new group will keep all staff and an office in Tryon.

Pacolet Area Conservancy to host After Hours

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 5/19/17

The Pacolet Area Conservancy will host the next Chamber Business After Hours on Tuesday May 23 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

All Chamber members and prospective members are invited to attend this popular networking event.

Pacolet Area Conservancy recently moved to a new location, 2060 Lynn Rd., Suite 1, (Valley Plaza).  It is spacious and there is plenty of parking, so come and see this new location that was planned and decorated by Drummond House Interiors.  Bring your business cards for sharing, and use this opportunity to meet new people.  Appetizers and “after 5” beverages will be served and door prizes will be given.

Feel free to bring a prize for extra publicity for your business.

RSVP is required by calling the Chamber at 828-859-6236 or email to janet@carolinafoothillschamber.com

~ article submitted by Janet Sciacca


Thief removes plants from PAC’s butterfly garden on Trade St.

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 5/19/17

The garden, however, has been raided.  Recently, numerous plants have gone missing; obviously dug up and removed for someone’s personal gain.  It is very disheartening that someone would take advantage of this gift to the community – built out of love and respect for the plants and animals that we share our great planet with – then enter the garden with ill intent, and steal the plants that have called this space home for two years and provided habitat for countless insects, arthropods, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals.

In 2015, as part of an initiative by the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) to raise awareness about the decline of the migratory Monarch butterfly due to habitat loss, as well as to create habitat for the Monarch butterfly (and other butterflies), PAC volunteers worked diligently to transform the courtyard next to the former PAC office, at 850 N. Trade St., Tryon, into a beautiful butterfly garden and habitat.

Thanks to a generous grant from Tryon resident, Loti Woods, landscape design by Mark Byington, PAC’s wonderful volunteers, and by permission from the owner of the property, Dora Edwards, the courtyard area, which used to be overgrown with non-native plants that provided very little to the ecosystem, was transformed into an amazing butterfly habitat loaded with native plants that provide shelter and nectar for adult butterflies and host plants (food) for their caterpillars!

Over the past couple of years, the garden has flourished and we’ve been rewarded with visits from numerous butterfly species, many of which are completing their life cycle in the garden.

PAC and Ms. Edwards invite the public to come and enjoy this beautiful butterfly garden – a gift to the community – and we encourage the community to create native butterfly habitat, particularly for the Monarch, but to do so by supporting the numerous native plant nurseries that have so diligently worked to make native plants available in the retail market.

Thanks to Ms. Edwards, PAC has been granted permission to continue to steward the butterfly garden and the community is still invited to enjoy it, but as with all public places, please take only memories and photographs and leave only footprints.

For more information about native plant nurseries and PAC’s initiative to create habitat for the Monarch butterfly, please visit the PAC website, www.pacolet.org, click on the “Conservation” tab, then “Saving the Migratory Monarch.”

~ article submitted by Pam Torlina

PAC garden theft

Empty spaces in the PAC butterfly garden on N. Trade St. that used to contain nectar and larval host plants, important habitat for butterflies. (photo submitted by Pam Torlina)


Polk County’s Most Wanted – Plant: Mountain Witch-alder

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 5/11/17

In a joint effort to expand the knowledge and understanding of the flora and fauna of Polk County, the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and botanist, David Campbell need your help in locating this month’s “Polk County’s Most Wanted-Plant,” one of the southern Appalachian’s most beautiful shrubs, Mountain Witch-alder (Fothergilla major).

When in flower, Mountain Witch-alder is hard to miss; it is covered in rounded masses of flowers with white stamens (and no petals).  In recent years, this distinctive species has become popular in the nursery trade.  This deciduous shrub is small to medium-sized (up to 3 meters in height) with lobed, large-toothed and prominently veined leaves.  The leaves of Mountain Witch-alder also bear a very strong resemblance to the far more abundant Witch-hazel, not surprisingly, perhaps, as both are in the same plant family.  Indeed, when not in fruit or flower, it can be very easy to confuse Mountain Witch-alder for Witch-hazel.

A plant of medium elevations, found in the Piedmont and western parts of NC, Mountain Witch-alder prefers sites that are dry to dry-mesic and on the acidic side of the pH scale.  Sunny, open sites suit it best.  This is also a plant that responds well to fire, with prescribed burning often being utilized to help populations in the wild.  The site of a blooming thicket of Witch-alder is breathtaking and hard to forget. Flowering typically takes place from late March to early May, depending on elevation.

This species has been found in Polk County, with reports from the Green River Game Lands and Melrose Mountain; however, these records are several decades old.  The continued existence of Mountain Witch-alder in Polk County seems likely, as sufficient habitat exists here and it is also known from nearby counties.  This species is so spectacular and distinctive; we are hoping that residents will be able to provide us with information regarding the whereabouts of this rare and unusual species in our community.

If you feel that you have seen Mountain Witch-alder, or any other Polk County’s Most Wanted species, please contact staff at the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060, or e-mail comments, questions, or photos to landprotection@pacolet.org.

All of the Polk County’s Most Wanted can be viewed on the PAC website, www.pacolet.org.  Click on the “conservation” tab and scroll down and click on the “Polk County’s Most Wanted” tab.

PAC has also created a “Pocket Guide” of “Polk County’s Most Wanted” that can be printed and taken in the field!  The pocket guide can be accessed on PAC’s website too.

~article written by David Campbell

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Mountain Witch-Alder (Fothergilla Major)


Join PAC, Foothills Humane Society for a hike and to walk a shelter dog

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 5/5/17

Hikers, and their dogs, are invited to join the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and the Foothills Humane Society (FHS) on Saturday, May 13 at 10 a.m. for a 5.5-mile hike at Chestnut Ridge Heritage Preserve in Gowensville, SC. PAC’s Director of Stewardship and Land Protection, Pam Torlina, will lead the hike from the trail head off of Oak Grove Road to the South Pacolet River.

Participants interested in walking a shelter dog for the day are encouraged to contact FHS.  This is a great opportunity to give a shelter dog a break from the shelter and allow them to enjoy a nice, socializing walk in the woods.  If you are interested in walking a shelter dog, please contact Sam Austin, of FHS, several days before the hike for an interview and pairing with the appropriate dog.  There is a limit to the amount of dogs that can come, so contact Sam right away.  Sam can be reached at (828)863-4444, or email, volunteer@foothillshumanesociety.org.

The 5.5-mile hike is 2.75-miles out and 2.75-miles back and it starts out as relatively easy, winding through new growth forest and along several streams, gradually becoming moderately strenuous as the trail ascends Squirrel Mountain through a rich hardwood forest with beautiful rock outcroppings. After reaching the ridge top, the trail descends Squirrel Mountain through a lush cove forest to the South Pacolet River, at the base of Chestnut Ridge.

Chestnut Ridge Heritage Preserve is a 1,881-acre Preserve in northern Greenville County, named for the mountain within its boundaries that protects White Irisette (Sisyrinchium dichotomum), a federally endangered plant. White Irisette is found on only a few scattered mountain slopes in western NC and northern SC and flourishes on several of PAC’s protected properties. Difficult to distinguish in the best of circumstances, the tiny irisette will not be blooming this time of year, but many spring ephemerals will be open for hikers to enjoy.

The forest at Chestnut Ridge Heritage Preserve varies from early successional to mature upland and cove hardwoods, and hikers may see and hear songbirds that have recently returned from their wintering grounds in South America. The property is part of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Management Area program, allowing hiking, nature viewing, fishing, and some types of hunting.

If you are interested in attending the PAC/FHS hike at the Chestnut Ridge Heritage Preserve, free of charge, please contact the PAC office to sign up by phone at (828)859-5060 or e-mail landprotection@pacolet.org, and contact Sam Austin at the FHS office by phone at (828)863-4444 or e-mail, volunteer@foothillshumanesociety.org.

Hikers should wear appropriate clothing and footwear, and dogs must be on a leash and accustomed to being around many other dogs.  Bring a bag lunch and/or snack and plenty of water (don’t forget snacks for your pooch!).  Please be sure to bring any personal medication that you may require.

Hikers will be meeting at the Gowensville Spinx (at the intersection of HWY 14 & HWY 11) at 10:00 a.m. to check in, arrange carpooling, and start the approximately 15 minute journey to Chestnut Ridge Heritage Preserve. Hikers should be prepared to return to the area in the mid-afternoon.

In case of inclement weather, please contact the PAC office by 9 a.m. on the day of the hike, check the PAC website, www.pacolet.org, and/or the PAC Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, to see if the hike will take place.

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Pictured at the PAC/FHS hike at Ashmore Heritage Preserve on April 18, 2015 are Dana Mayer and her dog Rosie, Ellie Cox, Liz Dicey and her dog, Jack, Carol McCall, Edie Castello and her dog, Little Dickens, Dawn McCullough and her dog, Jean Shaw, Ford Smith and Roger, a FHS shelter dog, Vince Castello, and Don Dicey with Adel, a FHS adoptee. (photo by Pam Torlina)


“Appalachian Sampler”

PAC/Landrum Library Program, May 9, 6:30 p.m.

Polk County News Journal and The News Leader, 5/3/17

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and the Landrum Library invite the public to attend a free presentation on “Appalachian Sampler,” presented by Dennis Chastain.  The program will be held at the Landrum Library, 111 East Asbury Drive Landrum, SC, on Tuesday, May 9 at 6:30 p.m.

Dennis Chastain is an award-winning outdoor writer and interpretive naturalist and his “Appalachian Sampler” presentation is a representative sample of natural and cultural features characteristic of the Blue Ridge segment of the ancient Appalachian Mountains.  He has put together a slide show composed of moonshine stills, animal tracks, scats and spoor, and a tantalizing sampling of the nearly 1,200 flowering species of wildflowers, trees and shrubs that grace our Carolina mountain region; along with ancient Indian petroglyphs, rock shelters, waterfalls and finally, a pictorial survey of snakes and reptiles.

This program is best for adults and children who listen like adults. Families are welcome too.

This program is made possible thanks to a Free Community Events grant from the Polk County Community Foundation (PCCF).

For more information, contact the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060 or e-mail landprotection@pacolet.org.  Keep an eye on the PAC website, www.pacolet.org, for information on upcoming PAC/Landrum Library programs at the Landrum Library.

The next scheduled program will take place on June 8th when naturalist, Carlton Burke, will present “Owls – Masters of the Night,” at 2 p.m., part of the Landrum Library’s “Summer Reading Program.”  The program will feature live owls!

PAC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization (land trust) founded in 1989 to protect and conserve natural resources in the Foothills of North Carolina and the Upstate of South Carolina, with emphasis on the lands and waterways with scenic, ecologic or agricultural significance in the North Pacolet and Green River watersheds (PACs mission).  PAC works with area landowners to ensure the long-term protection of their property through voluntary conservation easements (agreements) which enable landowners to maintain ownership of their property, preserving precious natural resources (open lands, forests, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, farmland, stream banks, etc.), and potentially obtain significant federal and local tax benefits.  PACs vision is a community living and growing in harmony with our natural resources and or goal is to provide a legacy that will endure and be valued by generations to come.  PAC works diligently to provide leadership to encourage conservation and provide education programs emphasizing native species appreciation and responsible land use practices to help – save the places you love.

~By Pam Torlina

Dennis Chastain photo

Dennis Chastain being filmed for an ETV program and standing in front of Table Rock Mountain in Pickens, SC (photo submitted by Pam Torlina)


Tryon Daily Bulletin, 5/3/17

Matching Fund Challenge2


PAC/Landrum Library present “Appalachian Sampler” May 9

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 5/2/17

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and the Landrum Library invite the public to attend a free presentation on “Appalachian Sampler,” presented by Dennis Chastain.  The program will be held at the Landrum Library, 111 East Asbury Drive Landrum, SC, on Tuesday, May 9 at 6:30 p.m.

Dennis Chastain is an award-winning outdoor writer and interpretive naturalist and his “Appalachian Sampler” presentation is a representative sample of natural and cultural features characteristic of the Blue Ridge segment of the ancient Appalachian Mountains.  He has put together a slide show composed of moonshine stills, animal tracks, scats and spoor, and a tantalizing sampling of the nearly 1,200 flowering species of wildflowers, trees and shrubs that grace our Carolina mountain region; along with ancient Indian petroglyphs, rock shelters, waterfalls and finally, a pictorial survey of snakes and reptiles.

This program is best for adults and children who listen like adults. Families are welcome too.

This program is made possible thanks to a Free Community Events grant from the Polk County Community Foundation (PCCF).

For more information, contact the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060 or e-mail landprotection@pacolet.org.  Keep an eye on the PAC website, www.pacolet.org, for information on upcoming PAC/Landrum Library programs at the Landrum Library.

The next scheduled program will take place on June 8th when naturalist, Carlton Burke, will present “Owls – Masters of the Night,” at 2 p.m., part of the Landrum Library’s “Summer Reading Program.”  The program will feature live owls!

~article submitted by Pam Torlina

Dennis Chastain photo

Dennis Chastain being filmed for an ETV program and standing in front of Table Rock Mountain in Pickens, SC (photo submitted by Pam Torlina)


Tryon Daily Bulletin, 4/27/17

PAC-WCP_Confessions of a Birding Tour Leader


“Confessions of a Birding Tour Leader”

Polk County News Journal, 4/26/17

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and Walnut Creek Preserve (WCP) invite the public to attend a free presentation by Simon Thompson, owner of Ventures Birding Tours, on “Confessions of a Birding Tour Leader,” presented.  The program will be held at the Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center at Walnut Creek Preserve on Saturday, April 29th, at 10:30 a.m.

Leading a birding or nature trip sounds like a dream job, exploring the world and seeing wonderful sights and animals, but like any adventure things can wrong.  Join Simon Thompson for a somewhat tongue-in cheek look at the fun and games he’s encountered while leading birding tours around the world.

To get to Walnut Creek Preserve’s Nature Center from the Tryon and Columbus area, take Hwy 108 E and turn left on Hwy 9 toward Lake Lure.  Follow Hwy 9 N for 5 miles and turn right onto McGuinn Road (at the Exxon Station).

Go one mile to the intersection with Big Level Road; turn left, go 2/10ths of a mile and take the first right onto Aden Green Road.  Follow Aden Green for 4/10ths of a mile and turn left on Wood Thrush Lane and into Walnut Creek Preserve.

Take the first left onto Conservatory Lane, which takes you to the parking area for the nature center. GPS coordinates to the Nature Center are available at the PAC website.

For more information or directions from another location, contact the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060 or e-mail landprotection@pacolet.org.

The next PAC/WCP program will be held on May 27th, when mycologist and owner of Mushroom Mountain, Tradd Cotter, will present, “Amazing Fungi – The Dark Matter that Bounds all Life.”

For more information about Walnut Creek Preserve, visit www.walnutcreekpreserve.com.  Please note, Walnut Creek Preserve is private property and guests are only allowed on the property by invitation (a planned event or scheduled group).  Thank you.

PAC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization (land trust) founded in 1989 to protect and conserve natural resources in the Foothills of North Carolina and the Upstate of South Carolina, with emphasis on the lands and waterways with scenic, ecologic or agricultural significance in the North Pacolet and Green River watersheds (PACs mission).  PAC works with area landowners to ensure the long-term protection of their property through voluntary conservation easements (agreements) which enable landowners to maintain ownership of their property, preserving precious natural resources (open lands, forests, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, farmland, stream banks, etc.), and potentially obtain significant federal and local tax benefits.  PACs vision is a community living and growing in harmony with our natural resources and or goal is to provide a legacy that will endure and be valued by generations to come.  PAC works diligently to provide leadership to encourage conservation and provide education programs emphasizing native species appreciation and responsible land use practices to help – save the places you love.

~article submitted by Pam Torlina

ST Namibia

Simon Thompson, PAC and Walnut Creek Preserve’s April 29 presenter, leading a Ventures Birding Tour in Namibia, Africa.  (photo submitted by Pam Torlina)


A beautiful day for PAC’s annual PACRun, PACWalk for Preservation

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 4/26/17

Saturday, April 8, was a perfect spring day for the Pacolet Area Conservancy’s (PAC) 12th annual PACWalk and the 6th annual PACRun for Preservation.

This year, for the first time, the events were held at the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE). The weather was cool and clear as the runners started the 5K at 8 a.m.; 26 minutes later, nine year old Ben Thompson arrived to finish and win the overall race medal.

The new race route was challenging but beautiful, and exhilarating for the runners, who ranged in age from 9 to 62 and included two very happy canines.

The walkers started at 10 a.m. with three separate groups heading out to enjoy the views and natural features of FENCE.  The “Stroll” group made good use of a .3 mile paved interpretive trail.  The “fast” and “slow” groups walked to an open area at FENCE’s highest elevation for great views and then went down to Blockhouse Creek and along the pond boardwalk.  Everyone enjoyed the early spring wildflowers, and the “slow” group spent time identifying the more interesting species which included trillium, Rue Anemone, and Mayapple.

The walk was followed by music, awards, lunch, and door prizes.  New this year was musical entertainment provided by Turtle Power, a local duo with acoustic guitars.

~ article submitted by Pam TorlinaP1130847

PACWalkers, including Girl Scouts of South Carolina Mountains to Midlands Troop 2628, enjoyed the beautiful day at FENCE. (photos by Ford Smith)

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Ellie Baughman presented her mother, Carolyn Baughman, with a door prize.


PAC Announces Hiking Challenge Achievers

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 4/25/17

Hiking challenge winners

April 14 marked the end of the Pacolet Area Conservancy’s (PAC) Spring Hiking Series.  PAC’s Spring Hiking Series offered five hikes to beautiful protected lands in our area.  Hikers enjoyed lovely spring weather, the emergence of spring foliage, and the return of migratory bird song!  Four participants attended all five hikes and completed PAC’s Hiking Challenge! Congratulations to Edie Castello, Jean Shaw (five-time Hiking Challenge achiever), Pat Strother, and Mary Alm!  Visit pacolet.org and click on Upcoming Events to look for other hiking opportunities this spring. (photo by Ford Smith)


Pacolet Area Conservancy, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy consolidate organizations

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 4/25/17

The board of directors and staff of the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC) are excited to announce a consolidation of the two organizations.

As sister organizations – each with deep roots and strong histories of conserving and preserving lands in the areas they serve – they are uniting to create a new organization that will increase conservation efforts in our area.  They believe a united organization will help build a larger community of advocates for the common missions of protecting and conserving natural resources in the burgeoning region for generations to come.

With a broader geographic reach encompassing lands from upstate South Carolina to the foothills and mountains of western North Carolina, the combined expertise, talents and resources will strengthen their ability to raise awareness of the crucial importance of protecting shared land and water resources, and foster appreciation of the area’s unique natural heritage.

As a result of banding together, they will be able to protect more land.

The new organization will have offices in Columbus and Hendersonville, N.C., with current staff remaining in place under the direction of a new consolidated board of directors and Executive Director Kieran Roe.

Upon completion of the branding process for the newly created organization later this summer, the name and logo will be announced.

~ article submitted by Rebecca Kemp and Kieran Roe


Confessions of a birding tour leader

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 4/23/17

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and Walnut Creek Preserve (WCP) invite the public to attend a free presentation by Simon Thompson, owner of Ventures Birding Tours, on “Confessions of a Birding Tour Leader,” presented.  The program will be held at the Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center at Walnut Creek Preserve on Saturday, April 29th, at 10:30 a.m.

Leading a birding or nature trip sounds like a dream job, exploring the world and seeing wonderful sights and animals, but like any adventure things can wrong.  Join Simon Thompson for a somewhat tongue-in cheek look at the fun and games he’s encountered while leading birding tours around the world.

To get to Walnut Creek Preserve’s Nature Center from the Tryon and Columbus area, take Hwy 108 E and turn left on Hwy 9 toward Lake Lure.  Follow Hwy 9 N for 5 miles and turn right onto McGuinn Road (at the Exxon Station).

Go one mile to the intersection with Big Level Road; turn left, go 2/10ths of a mile and take the first right onto Aden Green Road.  Follow Aden Green for 4/10ths of a mile and turn left on Wood Thrush Lane and into Walnut Creek Preserve.

Take the first left onto Conservatory Lane, which takes you to the parking area for the nature center. GPS coordinates to the Nature Center are available at the PAC website.

For more information or directions from another location, contact the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060 or e-mail landprotection@pacolet.org.

The next PAC/WCP program will be held on May 27th, when mycologist and owner of Mushroom Mountain, Tradd Cotter, will present, “Amazing Fungi – The Dark Matter that Bounds all Life.”

For more information about Walnut Creek Preserve, visit www.walnutcreekpreserve.com.  Please note, Walnut Creek Preserve is private property and guests are only allowed on the property by invitation (a planned event or scheduled group).

~article submitted by Pam Torlina

ST Namibia

 Simon Thompson, PAC and Walnut Creek Preserve’s April 29 presenter, leading a Ventures Birding Tour in Namibia, Africa.  (photo submitted by Pam Torlina)


A Special Thank You for your support of the

Pacolet Area Conservancy’s 6th Annual PACRun and

12th Annual PACWalk for Preservation!

Tryon Daily Bulletin,  4/21/17

PACWalk thank you


Tryon Elementary Student Wins PACRun 5K

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 4/21/17

Tryon Elementary student Ben Thompson, a member of the school’s running club, took part in the 6th annual PACRun 5K Trail Run on April 8 at Foothills Equestrian Nature Center.  Took part may be putting it mildly – the 9-year-old Thompson completed the course in a time of 26:46.48 to win the event.  Thompson was the youngest runner in the field, the oldest being 62.  He finished almost two minutes ahead of the second-place runner.

~ Submitted by PolkStudents.com


Join PAC for a hike to celebrate Earth Day

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 4/12/17

Celebrate Earth Day with the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) on Friday, April 21, for an approximately 4-5 mile, moderate hike at the PAC protected, Walnut Creek Preserve (WCP).   This is a cooperative hike with participants from PAC, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC), and Keith Viglietta’s hiking group.

This hike will be led by Babs Strickland, owner and manager of Walnut Creek Preserve, and the trails will lead hikers through the Preserve’s varied natural resource areas.  Participants will enjoy the trails at WCP and stop to enjoy the many wildflowers that should be blooming at this time.  The Preserve is private land and the public is only allowed on the property by invitation, so take advantage of this unique opportunity to enjoy the serenity of this beautiful property.

Those interested are asked to meet at the Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center at Walnut Creek Preserve at 9:30 a.m. for a short tour and talk about the Nature Center and the Preserve.  The hike will take place on the Preserve from approximately 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. with a break for a snack/lunch at around 11:30 a.m.  No dogs, please.

To get to Walnut Creek Preserve’s Nature Center from the Tryon and Columbus area, take Hwy 108 E and turn left on Hwy 9 toward Lake Lure.  Follow Hwy 9 N for 5 miles and turn right onto McGuinn Road (at the Exxon Station).  Go 1 mile to the intersection with Big Level Road; turn left, go 2/10ths of a mile and take the first right onto Aden Green Road.  Follow Aden Green for 4/10ths of a mile and turn left on Wood Thrush Lane and into Walnut Creek Preserve.  Take the first left onto Conservatory Lane, which takes you to the parking area for the nature center. (GPS coordinates to the Nature Center are available at the PAC website and directions can be obtained on Google Maps by searching “Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center.”)

If you are interested in attending the PAC hike at Walnut Creek Preserve, please contact the PAC office to sign up by phone at 828-859-5060 or e-mail, landprotection@pacolet.org.

For your safety, do not attempt any hike beyond your ability and experience.  Hikers should wear appropriate clothing and footwear; bring a bag lunch and/or snack and plenty of water.  Please be sure to bring any personal medication that you may require.

In case of inclement weather, please contact the PAC office by 8:45 on the day of the hike, check the PAC website, www.pacolet.org, and/or the PAC Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, to see if the hike will take place.

~ article submitted by Pam Torlina

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Hikers at the 2016 hike with PAC, CMLC, and Keith Viglietta’s group at the waterfall at Walnut Creek Preserve.  Photo by Keith Viglietta


Little White Oak Mountain Matching Fund Challenge

Polk County News Journal, 4/12/17

Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC), your local land trust which protects land in Polk County and surrounding counties, extends a Matching Fund Challenge to the residents of Polk County and the surrounding region to financially support the recent $2.38 million purchase by PAC’s sister organization, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC), of the almost 1,100 acre Little White Oak Mountain tract.

Once slated for heavy development as Foster Creek Preserve, this iconic landmark in Polk County will now be permanently protected to provide watershed protection, habitat for our native plants and animals, and recreational opportunities to the community. PAC will match every dollar contributed toward the purchase of this property up to $200,000. This total of $400,000 will help reduce the outstanding loan on the tract.

In 2014, Margaret (Maggie) Miller Bennett of Tryon bequeathed to PAC a generous portion of her estate. Because Maggie and her husband, Bill, were committed to the protection of wildlife and unspoiled natural lands, PAC now honors her memory by using her bequest as the Challenge Fund for the preservation of this beautiful property for the benefit of the community.

The Little White Oak Mountain tract is a completely undeveloped, natural gem in our county. It is located off of Houston Road and Highway 108 in Columbus, contiguous to Polk County Middle School and the Polk County Recreation Complex. CMLC purchased this property with the intention of providing for recreational opportunities, for protection of plant and wildlife habitat, and for the preservation of scenic views. In addition, CMLC and PAC are working with a Hendersonville non-profit to develop the lower portion of the tract as workforce housing. All of these possibilities will potentially attract more visitors to the area and support the local economy.

For over a decade PAC has considered this property a conservation priority. Babs Strickland, Dot Moyer, Renée McDermott, other PAC Board members, and PAC staff had worked with the previous owners to protect parts of this tract with a conservation easement. During this process, both PAC and CMLC met with the owners, the American Land Fund, and their representative Jeff Reader. In 2015, because of the efforts of CMLC’s executive director, Kieran Roe, and the assistant director for programs, Rebekah Robinson, the American Land Fund agreed to sell the entire tract to the CMLC at the end of 2016. The purchase was made possible in part by a generous gift from Alice and Fred Stanback of Salisbury, NC, and a $1.86 million loan from the Conservation Trust of North Carolina.

To repay the loan, CMLC needs our community’s support to secure the purchase of this tract for the enjoyment of future generations. Please consider a tax deductible donation of any amount to the Matching Fund Challenge; every dollar received will be matched by a dollar from PAC up to $200,000. Please call 828-859-5060 for further information and payment methods.

PAC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization (land trust) founded in 1989 to protect and conserve natural resources in the Foothills of North Carolina and the Upstate of South Carolina, with emphasis on the lands and waterways with scenic, ecologic or agricultural significance in the North Pacolet and Green River watersheds (PACs mission).  PAC works with area landowners to ensure the long-term protection of their property through voluntary conservation easements (agreements) which enable landowners to maintain ownership of their property, preserving precious natural resources (open lands, forests, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, farmland, stream banks, etc.), and potentially obtain significant federal and local tax benefits.  PACs vision is a community living and growing in harmony with our natural resources and or goal is to provide a legacy that will endure and be valued by generations to come.  PAC works diligently to provide leadership to encourage conservation and provide education programs emphasizing native species appreciation and responsible land use practices to help – save the places you love.  To date PAC has helped protect over 8,700 acres of our area’s valuable natural resources.

~ by Steve King

Little White Oak Mountain

Little White Oak Mountain


PAC’s Hike Heads to Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Polk County News Journal, 4/12/17

Join the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) on Friday, April 14, for an approximately 5.5-mile, moderate/strenuous, out and back hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP).  PAC’s Director of Stewardship and Land Protection, Pam Torlina, will lead the hike.

From the Park entrance at Cataloochee, the hike will follow the historic Asbury Trail along the Park’s boundary with the Appalachian Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest.  The trail is named for the Methodist Bishop, Francis Asbury.  In the 19th century, Asbury brought his traveling ministry to this area.  This trail that Asbury travelled was a known Cattalucha Indian track.  Later, after the establishment of the GSMNP, the Civilian Conservation Corps erected a fence along the Park boundary and portions of it still remain.  This portion of Asbury Trail offers beautiful winter views of the surrounding mountains and along the way hikers will enjoy emerging wildflowers and the sounds of spring.

If you are interested in attending the PAC hike at the GSMNP, please contact the PAC office to sign up by phone at 828-859-5060 or e-mail, landprotection@pacolet.org.

Hikers are asked to meet at the BI-LO in Columbus at 8:30 a.m. to check in and start the approximately 1-hour drive to the Cataloochee entrance into the GSMNP.  Hikers should be prepared to return to the area in the late-afternoon.

For your safety, do not attempt any hike beyond your ability and experience.  Hikers should wear appropriate clothing and footwear; bring a bag lunch and/or snack and plenty of water.  Please be sure to bring any personal medication that you may require.

In case of inclement weather, please contact the PAC office by 8:15 on the day of the hike, check the PAC website, www.pacolet.org, and/or the PAC Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, to see if the hike will take place.

If you cannot make this hike but would like to attend future hikes, please visit PACs website, www.pacolet.org, or go to PACs Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, for information on additional upcoming hikes.

~ by Pam Torlina

DSC_0812

 “PAC hikers that attended the March 31 hike at Pisgah National Forest, in no particular order: Maureen Pratt, Suzanne Engelmann, Mary Alm, Pat Strother, Roger Dehnel, Vince Castello, Charles Ducharme, Ellie Cox, Liz Dicey, Jean Shaw, and Edie Castello. (Photo by Pam Torlina)


“Polk County’s Most Wanted Plant”

American Barberry

Polk County News Journal, 4/12/17

In a joint effort to expand the knowledge and understanding of the flora and fauna of Polk County, the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and botanist, David Campbell need your help in locating this month’s “Polk County’s Most Wanted-Plant,” the enigmatic and rarely seen shrub- American Barberry (Berberis canadensis).

In spite of its scientific name, Berberis canadensis, this plant is not to be found in Canada, but has as its center of abundance in the southern Appalachians, with some outlying populations in Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. Preferred habitats include rocky woodlands, bluffs, roadsides, and glades on mafic/circumneutral soils that are relatively high in pH.

American Barberry is a small shrub that may attain heights just slightly in excess of six feet, with leaves that are ovate, simple, alternate, and deciduous.  A notable feature is numerous thorns; each node possesses three obvious ‘spikes.’  A closely related species that sometimes escapes cultivation is Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii); Japanese Barberry usually has a single thorn opposed to American Barberry’s thorns in ‘threes.’  American Barberry has yellow flowers that are radially symmetrical, with six petals and six sepals.  In our region, flowering occurs in April.  Mature fruits are red, elliptic, and are seen in late summer to early fall.

American Barberry has never been recorded in Polk County, but does occur in nearby Rutherford and McDowell Counties.  Suitable habitat is not uncommon in Polk, and this species should plausibly occur here.  This is not a plant that ‘jumps out’ at the casual observer, and when young, or not in flower or fruit, may be easily overlooked. The flowering period is almost upon us, so keep a look-out for this rare, but likely, under-reported shrub when you are out walking the woodlands in the next few weeks.

If you feel that you have sighted this or any other Polk County’s Most Wanted species, please don’t hesitate to contact staff at the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060, or e-mail comments, questions, or photos to landprotection@pacolet.org.

All of the Polk County’s Most Wanted can be viewed on the PAC website, www.pacolet.org.  Click on the “conservation” tab and scroll down and click on the “Polk County’s Most Wanted” tab.

PAC has also created a “Pocket Guide” of “Polk County’s Most Wanted” that can be printed and taken in the field!  The pocket guide can be accessed on PAC’s website too.

PAC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization (land trust) founded in 1989 to protect and conserve natural resources in the Foothills of North Carolina and the Upstate of South Carolina, with emphasis on the lands and waterways with scenic, ecologic or agricultural significance in the North Pacolet and Green River watersheds (PACs mission).  PAC works with area landowners to ensure the long-term protection of their property through voluntary conservation easements (agreements) which enable landowners to maintain ownership of their property, preserving precious natural resources (open lands, forests, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, farmland, stream banks, etc.), and potentially obtain significant federal and local tax benefits.  PACs vision is a community living and growing in harmony with our natural resources and or goal is to provide a legacy that will endure and be valued by generations to come.  PAC works diligently to provide leadership to encourage conservation and provide education programs emphasizing native species appreciation and responsible land use practices to help – save the places you love.

~ By David Campbell

American Barberry

American Barberry (Berberis canadensis) photo by Sam Prat


Join PAC for a hike to Celebrate Earth Day

Polk County News Journal, 4/12/17

Celebrate Earth Day with the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) on Friday, April 21, for an approximately 4-5 mile, moderate hike at the PAC protected, Walnut Creek Preserve (WCP).   This is a cooperative hike with participants from PAC, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC), and Keith Viglietta’s hiking group.  This hike will be led by Babs Strickland, owner and manager of Walnut Creek Preserve, and the trails will lead hikers through the Preserve’s varied natural resource areas.  Participants will enjoy the trails at WCP and stop to enjoy the many wildflowers that should be blooming at this time.  The Preserve is private land and the public is only allowed on the property by invitation, so take advantage of this unique opportunity to enjoy the serenity of this beautiful property.

Those interested are asked to meet at the Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center at Walnut Creek Preserve at 9:30 a.m. for a short tour and talk about the Nature Center and the Preserve.  The hike will take place on the Preserve from approximately 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. with a break for a snack/lunch at around 11:30 a.m.  No dogs, please.

To get to Walnut Creek Preserve’s Nature Center from the Tryon and Columbus area, take Hwy 108 E and turn left on Hwy 9 toward Lake Lure.  Follow Hwy 9 N for 5 miles and turn right onto McGuinn Road (at the Exxon Station).  Go 1 mile to the intersection with Big Level Road; turn left, go 2/10ths of a mile and take the first right onto Aden Green Road.  Follow Aden Green for 4/10ths of a mile and turn left on Wood Thrush Lane and into Walnut Creek Preserve.  Take the first left onto Conservatory Lane, which takes you to the parking area for the nature center. (GPS coordinates to the Nature Center are available at the PAC website and directions can be obtained on Google Maps by searching “Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center.”)

If you are interested in attending the PAC hike at Walnut Creek Preserve, please contact the PAC office to sign up by phone at 828-859-5060 or e-mail, landprotection@pacolet.org.

For your safety, do not attempt any hike beyond your ability and experience.  Hikers should wear appropriate clothing and footwear; bring a bag lunch and/or snack and plenty of water.  Please be sure to bring any personal medication that you may require.

In case of inclement weather, please contact the PAC office by 8:45 on the day of the hike, check the PAC website, www.pacolet.org, and/or the PAC Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, to see if the hike will take place.

PAC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization (land trust) founded in 1989 to protect and conserve natural resources in the Foothills of North Carolina and the Upstate of South Carolina, with emphasis on the lands and waterways with scenic, ecologic or agricultural significance in the North Pacolet and Green River watersheds (PACs mission).  PAC works with area landowners to ensure the long-term protection of their property through voluntary conservation easements (agreements) which enable landowners to maintain ownership of their property, preserving precious natural resources (open lands, forests, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, farmland, stream banks, etc.), and potentially obtain significant federal and local tax benefits.  PACs vision is a community living and growing in harmony with our natural resources and or goal is to provide a legacy that will endure and be valued by generations to come.  PAC works diligently to provide leadership to encourage conservation and provide education programs emphasizing native species appreciation and responsible land use practices to help – save the places you love.

~ By Pam Torlina

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Hikers at the 2016 hike with PAC, CMLC, and Keith Viglietta’s group at the waterfall at Walnut Creek Preserve.  Photo by Keith Viglietta


PAC’s final hike of the spring series heads to Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 4/9/17

Join the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) on Friday, April 14, for an approximately 5.5-mile, moderate/strenuous, out and back hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP).  PAC’s Director of Stewardship and Land Protection, Pam Torlina, will lead the hike.

From the Park entrance at Cataloochee, the hike will follow the historic Asbury Trail along the Park’s boundary with the Appalachian Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest.  The trail is named for the Methodist Bishop, Francis Asbury.  In the 19th century, Asbury brought his traveling ministry to this area.  This trail that Asbury travelled was a known Cattalucha Indian track.  Later, after the establishment of the GSMNP, the Civilian Conservation Corps erected a fence along the Park boundary and portions of it still remain.  This portion of Asbury Trail offers beautiful winter views of the surrounding mountains and along the way hikers will enjoy emerging wildflowers and the sounds of spring.

If you are interested in attending the PAC hike at the GSMNP, please contact the PAC office to sign up by phone at 828-859-5060 or e-mail, landprotection@pacolet.org.

Hikers are asked to meet at the BI-LO in Columbus at 8:30 a.m. to check in and start the approximately 1-hour drive to the Cataloochee entrance into the GSMNP.  Hikers should be prepared to return to the area in the late-afternoon.

For your safety, do not attempt any hike beyond your ability and experience.  Hikers should wear appropriate clothing and footwear; bring a bag lunch and/or snack and plenty of water.  Please be sure to bring any personal medication that you may require.

In case of inclement weather, please contact the PAC office by 8:15 on the day of the hike, check the PAC website, www.pacolet.org, and/or the PAC Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, to see if the hike will take place.

If you cannot make this hike but would like to attend future hikes, please visit PACs website, www.pacolet.org, or go to PACs Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, for information on additional upcoming hikes.

~ article submitted by Pam Torlina

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“PAC hikers that attended the March 31 hike at Pisgah National Forest were Maureen Pratt, Suzanne Engelmann, Mary Alm, Pat Strother, Roger Dehnel, Vince Castello, Charles Ducharme, Ellie Cox, Liz Dicey, Jean Shaw, and Edie Castello. (photo submitted by Pam Torlina)


Little White Oak Mountain matching fund challenge

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 4/7/17

Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC), your local land trust which protects land in Polk County and surrounding counties, extends a Matching Fund Challenge to the residents of Polk County and the surrounding region to financially support the recent $2.38 million purchase by PAC’s sister organization, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC), of the almost 1,100 acre Little White Oak Mountain tract.

Once slated for heavy development as Foster Creek Preserve, this iconic landmark in Polk County will now be permanently protected to provide watershed protection, habitat for our native plants and animals, and recreational opportunities to the community. PAC will match every dollar contributed toward the purchase of this property up to $200,000. This total of $400,000 will help reduce the outstanding loan on the tract.

In 2014, Margaret (Maggie) Miller Bennett of Tryon bequeathed to PAC a generous portion of her estate. Because Maggie and her husband, Bill, were committed to the protection of wildlife and unspoiled natural lands, PAC now honors her memory by using her bequest as the Challenge Fund for the preservation of this beautiful property for the benefit of the community.

The Little White Oak Mountain tract is a completely undeveloped, natural gem in our county. It is located off of Houston Road and Highway 108 in Columbus, contiguous to Polk County Middle School and the Polk County Recreation Complex. CMLC purchased this property with the intention of providing for recreational opportunities, for protection of plant and wildlife habitat, and for the preservation of scenic views. In addition, CMLC and PAC are working with a Hendersonville non-profit to develop the lower portion of the tract as workforce housing. All of these possibilities will potentially attract more visitors to the area and support the local economy.

For over a decade PAC has considered this property a conservation priority. Babs Strickland, Dot Moyer, Renée McDermott, other PAC Board members, and PAC staff had worked with the previous owners to protect parts of this tract with a conservation easement. During this process, both PAC and CMLC met with the owners, the American Land Fund, and their representative Jeff Reader. In 2015, because of the efforts of CMLC’s executive director, Kieran Roe, and the assistant director for programs, Rebekah Robinson, the American Land Fund agreed to sell the entire tract to the CMLC at the end of 2016. The purchase was made possible in part by a generous gift from Alice and Fred Stanback of Salisbury, NC, and a $1.86 million loan from the Conservation Trust of North Carolina.

To repay the loan, CMLC needs our community’s support to secure the purchase of this tract for the enjoyment of future generations. Please consider a tax deductible donation of any amount to the Matching Fund Challenge; every dollar received will be matched by a dollar from PAC up to $200,000. Please call 828-859-5060 for further information and payment methods.

~ article by Steve King


Black Coffee to host Earth Day celebration April 22

Educational event to benefit Pacolet Area Conservancy with speakers, art and music

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 4/7/17

Black Coffee owner Adam Marcello is hosting an Earth Day celebration at his business at 15 S. Trade St. in Tryon on Saturday, April 22 in conjunction with the Pacolet Area Conservancy.

The event will include speakers, arts and crafts by local artists, and live music. Participants are asked to provide $5, which will benefit the Pacolet Area Conservancy.

“We didn’t see any events on Earth Day here in the area.  We’re doing it because we want to bring awareness to the issues we face every day when it comes to our environment,” Marcello emphasized.  “These issues aren’t getting a lot of focus.”

Kristen Mode, owner of Kristen’s Kreations in Saluda, is doing a potting and seeding class form 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Bands scheduled to perform starting at noon include Mercury Rising, Jamil Apostol and the Goodwills, and Turtle Power.

Marcello is one of three speakers scheduled and will host a seminar on coffee and the environment.  One of the most wasteful aspects of making coffee is boiling water, something he noted most people would not have guessed until research was done.

“It takes so much energy to boil water because we have to get it to a certain temperature,” Marcello said.  “Thousands of times a second across the world, coffee shops are boiling water for the next cup.  Growing crops, hauling the coffee on trucks and harvesting takes less energy than boiling water.”

Jonathan Gerst, hydrogeologist in Tryon, will speak on hydrogeology, which is the study of water on earth.  Joseph Burdett, an acupuncturist from Saluda, will teach the five elements of health to attendees.

“It’s going to become an annual thing for us,” Marcello explained.  “We always talk about how we can change our behavior to bring more balance between us and the environment.  We can’t stop pollution, but there are behavioral things we can do to slow it down.”

The point of a festival, according to Marcello, is to be “fun, educational and engaging.”  He added the event is not going to be “preachy” and will bring people together.

“Education is supposed to be fun, not just lectures, and this will bring people together,” Marcello said.  “I’m not someone who is a doomsday kind of person, I don’t think we’re killing the planet, but we are making it more difficult than it needs to be on the earth through our decisions.”

~ by Michael O’Hearn


Join Polk County Recreation and PAC on the Palmetto Trail April 7

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 4/4/17

Join Polk Count Recreation and the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) on Friday, April 7, for an approximately 10-mile, moderate hike along the Palmetto Trail, from Orchard Lake Campground trailhead to the Blue Wall Preserve.  The hike will follow the Palmetto Trail along the NC/SC state line and along the northern perimeter of the Greenville Watershed, down Brushy Ridge, along Hog Back Mountain Road, down Vaughns Gap and into the Blue Wall Preserve.

The Greenville Watershed is one of the most significant wilderness areas in South Carolina and a unique natural habitat for rare plants and animals.  The watershed property was acquired by the Greenville Water System in the 1950s and has been carefully protected since then.

In 1993, the Greenville Water System added further protection to the land by conveying a conservation easement to The Nature Conservancy.

Participants will enjoy the many wildflowers that should be blooming at this time and the arrival of migrating songbird returning to our area to establish territory.

Polk County Recreation has two vans and will provide a shuttle for the hike.  The shuttle can accommodate 31 passengers; therefore, pre-registration is required to guarantee a seat on the bus.  If we run out of seats, you are still encouraged to participate, but you will have to provide your own carpool and shuttle.  Please contact PAC at 828-859-5060 or email, landprotection@pacolet.org to reserve your seat.

Those interested are asked to meet at the Tryon Antique Mall and Market Place, across the street from the entrance to Lake Lanier, at 8:30 a.m. From there, we will carpool to the Blue Wall Preserve parking area (with limited parking) to load the buses and begin our journey to the trailhead at Orchard Lake Campground.

For your safety, do not attempt any hike beyond your ability and experience.  Hikers should wear appropriate clothing and footwear; bring a bag lunch and/or snack and plenty of water.  Please be sure to bring any personal medication that you may require.

In case of inclement weather, please contact the PAC office by 8:15 on the day of the hike, check the PAC website, www.pacolet.org, and/or the PAC Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, to see if the hike will take place.

~ article submitted by Pam Torlina

Palmetto Trail hike

Liz Dicey, Pam Torlina, Mike Frye and Ford Smith hiking on the Palmetto Trail in 2015. (photo by Don Dicey)


PAC’s Hike Heads to Pisgah National Forest, March 31st!

Polk County News Journal and The News Leader, 3/29/17

Join the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) on Friday, March 31, for an approximately 8-mile, moderate/strenuous, loop hike in Pisgah National Forest.  PAC’s Director of Stewardship and Land Protection, Pam Torlina, will lead the hike.

From the Davidson River Campground, the hike will follow the Davidson River to the Art Loeb Trail.  The Art Loeb Trail will take a long, steady, but moderate/strenuous ascent from the river to Shut-in Ridge.  Following the Art Loeb Trail along the ridge, hikers can expect a much gentler section of trail, but it will still have its ups and downs. After several miles on the Art Loeb Trail, hikers will veer onto the Connector Trail for a steady descent back toward the river where the group will then pick up the North Slope Trail for an easy, flat walk back to the parking area.

Along the way, the group will get a chance to have a look at the English Chapel, a landmark to those entering the Forest from the Brevard area.  The original chapel was a wooden structure built in 1860.  In 1940, the present, larger chapel was built out of rocks from the Davidson River.  The English Chapel, a United Methodist Church, continues to hold service every Sunday.

If you are interested in attending the PAC hike at Pisgah National Forest, please contact the PAC office to sign up by phone at 828-859-5060 or e-mail, landprotection@pacolet.org.

Hikers are asked to meet at the BI-LO in Columbus at 8:30 a.m. to check in and start the approximately 1-hour drive to the Davidson River Campground.  Hikers should be prepared to return to the area in the mid-afternoon.

For your safety, do not attempt any hike beyond your ability and experience.  Hikers should wear appropriate clothing and footwear; bring a bag lunch and/or snack and plenty of water.  Please be sure to bring any personal medication that you may require.

In case of inclement weather, please contact the PAC office by 8:15 on the day of the hike, check the PAC website, www.pacolet.org, and/or the PAC Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, to see if the hike will take place.

If you cannot make this hike but would like to attend future hikes, please visit PACs website, www.pacolet.org, or go to PACs Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, for information on upcoming hikes.  The final hike of the Spring Hiking Series takes place on April 14th at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; a 6.8-mile, moderate, out and back hike along the Asbury Trail.

 

PAC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization (land trust) founded in 1989 to protect and conserve natural resources in the Foothills of North Carolina and the Upstate of South Carolina, with emphasis on the lands and waterways with scenic, ecologic or agricultural significance in the North Pacolet and Green River watersheds (PAC’s mission).  PAC works with area landowners to ensure the long-term protection of their property through voluntary conservation easements (agreements) which enable landowners to continue ownership of their property, preserve precious natural resources (open lands, forests, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, farmland, stream banks, etc.), and potentially obtain significant federal and local tax benefits.  PAC works diligently to provide leadership to encourage conservation and offers education programs emphasizing responsible land use practices to help – save the places you love.

~ Pam Torlina

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PAC hikers who attended the March 17 hike to Moonshine Falls included Libby Vatalaro, Carolyn Parker, Alan Carron, Jean Shaw, Juanita Bruce, Edith Castello, Vince Castello, Liene Kukainis, Mikus Kukainus, Vilis Kukainus, Parm Torlina, Ford Smith, Richard McHenry, Pat Strother, Melanie Coleman, Tammy Coleman, Mary Alm, Lois Torlina, and Liz Dicey. (photo by Ford Smith)


Sign Up Now for PACWalk/PACRun!

Polk County News Journal, 3/29/17

Saturday, April 8, 2017 will be a great day to enjoy the lovely spring weather and do a good deed while participating in the Pacolet Area Conservancy’s (PAC’s) 6th annual 5K PACRun and the 12th annual PACWalk for Preservation held at the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE) in Tryon, North Carolina.

Whether you run the all-natural 5K course that traverses varied terrain, entirely limited to trails and grass, or you walk the 2-mile PACWalk course that will follow a nature trail through the woods, along Blockhouse Creek, and over a pond, offering sights and sounds of spring, or if you stroll the paved interpretative trail, or even if you choose to be a “Phantom Walker” and make a donation, you will be helping PAC conserve our precious natural heritage.

And if this is not enough reason to get out and support PAC, all participants will be eligible for outstanding door prizes donated by local businesses, such as: Covington Jewelry, Mast General Store, Millstone Gallery, Open Road Coffee, Southern Delights Ice Cream, Vines, and some very generous friends of PAC.

Oh – you want more?  Then come on out for a delicious lunch under the pavilion – for all walkers and runners – and listen to the sounds of Turtle Power, a local band from Saluda. While you eat you can see who wins the great door prizes.  There are also awards in various categories for PACWalk and PACRun.

For more information and to register for PACRun and PACWalk visit the PAC website at www.pacolet.org or call the PAC office at 828-859-5060.

PAC would to thank the following business sponsors: at the Platinum Level – Ashworth Financial Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, Parsec Financial, and Walnut Creek Preserve; at the Gold Level – Duke Energy, PRO Physical Therapy, and the Tryon Daily Bulletin; at the Silver Level – Columbus Design Center, Down To Earth Garden Center, Feagan Law Firm PLLC, Hoop’s Antiques and Vintage Collectibles, Main Street Insurance Group, McFarland Funeral Chapel, Mg12, Nature’s Storehouse, New View Realty, RE/MAX, St. Luke’s Hospital, Stott Pools, Tryon Builders, and Tryon Theatre; and supporting sponsors: the host site – Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE); and Tryon Estates and ACTS Retirement-Life Community who will be providing lunch for participants.  Thank you also to the following personal sponsors: at the Gold Level – Steve and Marie King and Renée and Jim McDermott; and at the Silver Level – Carole & Chris Bartol, Don & Liz Dicey, Andy & Linda Haynes, and Vard Henry.

~ Pam Torlina


PAC’s fourth spring hike heads back to Pisgah National Forest March 31

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 3/29/17

Join the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) on Friday, March 31, for an approximately 8-mile, moderate/strenuous, loop hike in Pisgah National Forest.  PAC’s Director of Stewardship and Land Protection, Pam Torlina, will lead the hike.

From the Davidson River Campground, the hike will follow the Davidson River to the Art Loeb Trail.  The Art Loeb Trail will take a long, steady, but moderate/strenuous ascent from the river to Shut-in Ridge.  Following the Art Loeb Trail along the ridge, hikers can expect a much gentler section of trail, but it will still have its ups and downs. After several miles on the Art Loeb Trail, hikers will veer onto the Connector Trail for a steady descent back toward the river where the group will then pick up the North Slope Trail for an easy, flat walk back to the parking area.

Along the way, the group will get a chance to have a look at the English Chapel, a landmark to those entering the Forest from the Brevard area.  The original chapel was a wooden structure built in 1860.  In 1940, the present, larger chapel was built out of rocks from the Davidson River.  The English Chapel, a United Methodist Church, continues to hold service every Sunday.

If you are interested in attending the PAC hike at Pisgah National Forest, please contact the PAC office to sign up by phone at 828-859-5060 or e-mail, landprotection@pacolet.org.

Hikers are asked to meet at the BI-LO in Columbus at 8:30 a.m. to check in and start the approximately 1-hour drive to the Davidson River Campground.  Hikers should be prepared to return to the area in the mid-afternoon.

For your safety, do not attempt any hike beyond your ability and experience.  Hikers should wear appropriate clothing and footwear; bring a bag lunch and/or snack and plenty of water.  Please be sure to bring any personal medication that you may require.

In case of inclement weather, please contact the PAC office by 8:15 on the day of the hike, check the PAC website, www.pacolet.org, and/or the PAC Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, to see if the hike will take place.

If you cannot make this hike but would like to attend future hikes, please visit PACs website, www.pacolet.org, or go to PACs Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, for information on upcoming hikes.  The final hike of the Spring Hiking Series takes place on April 14th at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; a 6.8-mile, moderate, out and back hike along the Asbury Trail.

~ article submitted by Pam Torlina

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PAC hikers who attended the March 17 hike to Moonshine Falls included Libby Vatalaro, Carolyn Parker, Alan Carron, Jean Shaw, Juanita Bruce, Edith Castello, Vince Castello, Liene Kukainis, Mikus Kukainus, Vilis Kukainus, Parm Torlina, Ford Smith, Richard McHenry, Pat Strother, Melanie Coleman, Tammy Coleman, Mary Alm, Lois Torlina, and Liz Dicey. (photo by Ford Smith)


 

Volunteers needed for Green River clean up at Alexander’s Ford

Polk County New Journal and The News Leader, 3/22/17

Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC), Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC) and Polk Trails will be partnering to hold a clean up of the Green River on Thursday, March 30 and are in need of volunteers.  The clean up will last from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the section of the river by Alexander’s Ford in the eastern part of Polk County.

Volunteers are asked to meet at the parking area at Alexander’s Ford (at the area just prior to the church on Gray’s Chapel Road) before the start of the clean up.  Trash bags will be provided and a limited number of gloves will be available.  Volunteers are asked to wear clothes they don’t mind getting dirty and bring some water and a snack.

Sign up with PAC at 828-859-5060 or email landprotection@pacolet.org if you plan on attending or have any questions.  For more information or directions, visit polktrails.org/alexander-s-ford.

~ Article submitted by Seth Young


Volunteers needed for Green River clean up at Alexander’ s Ford

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 3/19/17

Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC), Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC) and Polk Trails will be partnering to hold a clean up of the Green River on Thursday, March 30 and are in need of volunteers.  The clean up will last from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the section of the river by Alexander’s Ford in the eastern part of Polk County.

Volunteers are asked to meet at the parking area at Alexander’s Ford (at the area just prior to the church on Gray’s Chapel Road) before the start of the clean up.  Trash bags will be provided and a limited number of gloves will be available.  Volunteers are asked to wear clothes they don’t mind getting dirty and bring some water and a snack.

Sign up with PAC at 828-859-5060 or email landprotection@pacolet.org if you plan on attending or have any questions.  For more information or directions, visit polktrails.org/alexander-s-ford.

~ Article submitted by Seth Young


Public input meeting Monday for Little White Oak Mtn. property

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 3/17/17

A public information meeting seeking input has been scheduled for Monday, March 20 at the Polk County Public Library.

Carolina Mountain Land conservancy (CMLC) and the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) are asking local residents to come out to share their ideas and visions about the property.

A majority of the site, up to 600 acres, will potentially be future game land and about 300 acres could be added to the Polk County Recreation Complex.  The conservancies say they want to hear the public’s ideas about how the remaining 168 acres and the possible county park land could be developed in ways that will benefit the community and complement the adjacent land uses.

The meeting will be a drop-in style, from 3:30-6 p.m. Monday, March 20.  The Polk County Library is located at 1289 W. Mills St., Columbus.

CMLC purchased what was formerly known as Foster Creek Preserve, a proposed 687-unit residential development that never came to fruition.

CMLC worked closely with PAC to purchase the 1,068-acre property, with the sale closing in December 2016.

The land was purchased through a major gift from Fred and Alice Stanback, of Salisbury and a $1.86 million loan from the Conservation Trust for North Carolina.  CMLC says they want to transfer portions of the property to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission to be used as game lands with an access point from Hwy. 108 and approximately 300 acres to the Polk County Recreation Complex to add to the adjacent Polk County Recreation Complex at the county middle school property.

With other portions of the property, approximately 30-60 acres, CMLC wants to partner with the Housing Assistance Corporation, a nonprofit Hendersonville-based developer of affordable housing.

Anyone with questions or comments about the meeting can contact Linda Giltz at 828-236-2966 or lindagiltz@gmail.com.  Giltz is working under contract with CMLC to collect public input and develop a land use plan for the property.

~By Leah Justice


PAC’s Third Spring HIke heads to Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, March 17th!

Polk County News Journal, 3/15/17

Join the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) on Friday, March 17, for an approximately 5.5-mile, moderate, out and back hike at the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area.  PAC’s Director of Stewardship and Land Protection, Pam Torlina, will lead the hike.

The trail winds through a maturing, mountainous forest and offers great winter views of Table Rock.  At one point, hikers will have to crossing Matthews Creek using a cable crossing (one cable for your feet, and one cable for your hands).  This is the easiest way to cross the creek, though with the lack of rainfall, rock hopping may be possible.  The cable crossing may test your courage, but will offer a great sense of accomplishment!

Approaching the waterfall, hikers will arrive near the top of the falls and take a short, fairly steep descent to a cave behind the falls.  This offers a unique view of the waterfall.  There will also be an opportunity to hike down to the base of the falls to take in the full splendor of this hidden gem.

The waterfall was named for the illegal moonshining activity that occurred in the ‘cave’ behind the falls, and old moonshining barrels still remain behind the falls.  This waterfall plunges like a veil 40 feet over a dark granite cliff, strikes a ledge, turns 90 degrees and plunges into a pool.

If you are interested in attending the PAC hike at the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, please contact the PAC office to sign up by phone at 828-859-5060 or e-mail, landprotection@pacolet.org.

Hikers are asked to meet at the Spinx in Gowensville at 8:30 a.m. to check in and start the approximately 30-minute drive to Asbury Hills Camp.  Hikers should be prepared to return to the area in the mid-afternoon.

For your safety, do not attempt any hike beyond your ability and experience.  Hikers should wear appropriate clothing and footwear; bring a bag lunch and/or snack and plenty of water.  Please be sure to bring any personal medication that you may require.

In case of inclement weather, please contact the PAC office by 8:15 on the day of the hike, check the PAC website, www.pacolet.org, and/or the PAC Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, to see if the hike will take place.

If you cannot make this hike but would like to attend future hikes, please visit PACs website, www.pacolet.org, or go to PACs Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, for information on upcoming hikes.  The next hike takes place on March 31st at Pisgah National Forest; an 8-mile, moderate, loop hike along the North Slope Connector to Art Loeb Trail.

PAC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization (land trust) founded in 1989 to protect and conserve natural resources in the Foothills of North Carolina and the Upstate of South Carolina, with emphasis on the lands and waterways with scenic, ecologic or agricultural significance in the North Pacolet and Green River watersheds (PAC’s mission).  PAC works with area landowners to ensure the long-term protection of their property through voluntary conservation easements (agreements) which enable landowners to continue ownership of their property, preserve precious natural resources (open lands, forests, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, farmland, stream banks, etc.), and potentially obtain significant federal and local tax benefits.  PAC works diligently to provide leadership to encourage conservation and offers education programs emphasizing responsible land use practices to help – save the places you love.

~ By Pam Torlina

P1120679_e

PAC hikers on the 3/3/17 hike along the Coontree and Bennett Gap trails at Pisgah National Forest, in no particular order: Libby Vatalaro, Carolyn Parker, Suzanne Engelmann, Jean Shaw, Liz Dicey, Farley Snow, Lois Torlina, Jade Blakey, Edith Castello, Lawrence Poe, Linda Bliven, Cindy Moore, Mary Alm, Dan Easley, Tammy Coleman, Pat Strother, Alan Carron, Mark McCall, and Pam Torlina, Photo by Ford Smith.

 


Moss Magic in your Landscape

Polk County News Journal, 3/15/17

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and Walnut Creek Preserve (WCP) invite the public to attend a free presentation on “Moss Magic in your Landscape,” presented by Annie Martin.  The program will be held at the Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center at Walnut Creek Preserve on Saturday, March 25th, at 10:30 a.m.

Have you ever desired the year-round green appeal of mosses in your garden? Are you tired of mowing grass? What about that shady place where nothing else will grow? Native mosses are an excellent horticultural alternative.

Known as “Mossin’ Annie,” Martin provides valuable insights on how to transform your garden or lawn into a serene retreat and eco-friendly landscape showcasing the world’s oldest living land plants – mosses! Martin specializes in creating innovative moss-scapes and cultivates mosses at her Mossery in Brevard, NC. She explains how to transform your yard or convert your grass lawn into a serene, green retreat. Inspirational photographs, moss specimens for ID, and essential how-to gardening tips will help you get started on your own moss gardening projects.

Annie Martin is a nationally-recognized moss landscape designer, owner of Mountain Moss Enterprises in Pisgah Forest, NC, and the author of The Magical World of Moss Gardening (Timber Press, 2015), and she will have autographed books available for purchase after the lecture.

If you signed up for the workshop after the presentation, please remember your workshop fee and a bagged lunch!

To get to Walnut Creek Preserve’s Nature Center from the Tryon and Columbus area, take Hwy 108 E and turn left on Hwy 9 toward Lake Lure.  Follow Hwy 9 N for 5 miles and turn right onto McGuinn Road (at the Exxon Station).  Go 1 mile to the intersection with Big Level Road; turn left, go 2/10ths of a mile and take the first right onto Aden Green Road.  Follow Aden Green for 4/10ths of a mile and turn left on Wood Thrush Lane and into Walnut Creek Preserve.  Take the first left onto Conservatory Lane, which takes you to the parking area for the nature center. (GPS coordinates to the Nature Center are available at the PAC website.)

For more information or directions from another location, contact the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060 or e-mail landprotection@pacolet.org.  The next PAC/WCP program will be held on April 29th, when Simon Thompson, owner of Ventures Birding Tours, will present “Confessions of a Birding Tour Leader.”

For more information about Walnut Creek Preserve, visit www.walnutcreekpreserve.com.  Please note, Walnut Creek Preserve is private property and guests are only allowed on the property by invitation (a planned event or scheduled group).  Thank you.

PAC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization (land trust) founded in 1989 to protect and conserve natural resources in the Foothills of North Carolina and the Upstate of South Carolina, with emphasis on the lands and waterways with scenic, ecologic or agricultural significance in the North Pacolet and Green River watersheds (PACs mission).  PAC works with area landowners to ensure the long-term protection of their property through voluntary conservation easements (agreements) which enable landowners to maintain ownership of their property, preserving precious natural resources (open lands, forests, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, farmland, stream banks, etc.), and potentially obtain significant federal and local tax benefits.  PACs vision is a community living and growing in harmony with our natural resources and or goal is to provide a legacy that will endure and be valued by generations to come.  PAC works diligently to provide leadership to encourage conservation and provide education programs emphasizing native species appreciation and responsible land use practices to help – save the places you love.

~ By Pam Torlina

AnnieGardenPortraitREAL

Annie Martin, the March 25 presenter at Walnut Creek Preserve


Great Opportunity to Support PAC and Get Outdoors!

Polk County News Journal, 3/8/17

What does it take to make a great run or walk?  Whether you want to run the 5K, walk the 2-miles, or take a lovely short stroll, the 2017 PACRun and PACWalk has got you covered.  Join your friends in helping the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) protect our lovely communities by participating in the 6th annual PACRun and 12th annual PACWalk for Preservation on April 8 at the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE).

Not only will you get to support a great cause, but you will get to exercise in the attractive environment at FENCE, a nature and equestrian center whose beauty will always be there for the public to enjoy because it is protected by a conservation easement held by PAC.

The 5K PACRun course traverses varied terrain that is entirely limited to trails and grass, a true trail run that will give you a challenge.  While you are dashing down the trail, for the run or the walk, you will enjoy the charming Blockhouse Creek, see abundant Trillium in bloom, and hear the many frogs and birds in the large wetland area. PACWalk will also include a meander on the boardwalk over the wetlands, offering a chance to look for turtles, fish, wading birds and more. If strolling is more your cup of tea, then an easy 0.3-mile walk along the paved Wildwood educational trail will allow an opportunity to learn about flora and fauna along the way.  FENCE is truly a nature lover’s paradise!

All participants will be entered for a chance to win fabulous door prizes and runners may win prizes for placing in their varied levels.So join PAC for this fun, family (and pet) friendly event to and do your part to help – save the places you love.  You may even win a prize! For more information and to pick up an entry form, stop by the PAC office at 2060 Lynn Road, Suite 1, Columbus, NC  28722, visit the PAC website at, www.pacolet.org, where you can download an entry form,  or call the PAC office at 828-859-5060.  Runners can register online at https://eventsignup.org/PACRun.  Please note that there is a late fee, for runners only, if registering after March 24, 2017.

-by Carrie Knox

PACWalk_photo by Chris Bartol

Photo by Chris Bartol


PAC’s third spring hike heads to Mountain Bridge Wildness Area

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 3/12/17

Join the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) on Friday, March 17, for an approximate 5.5-mile, moderate, out and back hike at the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area.  PAC’s Director of Stewardship and Land Protection, Pam Torlina, will lead the hike.

The trail winds through a maturing, mountainous forest and offers great winter views of Table Rock.  At one point, hikers will have to crossing Matthews Creek using a cable crossing (one cable for your feet, and one cable for your hands).  This is the easiest way to cross the creek, though with the lack of rainfall, rock hopping may be possible.  The cable crossing may test your courage, but will offer a great sense of accomplishment!

Approaching the waterfall, hikers will arrive near the top of the falls and take a short, fairly steep descent to a cave behind the falls.  This offers a unique view of the waterfall.  There will also be an opportunity to hike down to the base of the falls to take in the full splendor of this hidden gem.

The waterfall was named for the illegal moonshining activity that occurred in the ‘cave’ behind the falls, and old moonshining barrels still remain behind the falls.  This waterfall plunges like a veil 40 feet over a dark granite cliff, strikes a ledge, turns 90 degrees and plunges into a pool.

If you are interested in attending the PAC hike at the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, please contact the PAC office to sign up by phone at 828-859-5060 or e-mail, landprotection@pacolet.org.

Hikers are asked to meet at the Spinx in Gowensville at 8:30 a.m. to check in and start the approximately 30-minute drive to Asbury Hills Camp.  Hikers should be prepared to return to the area in the mid-afternoon.

For your safety, do not attempt any hike beyond your ability and experience.  Hikers should wear appropriate clothing and footwear; bring a bag lunch and/or snack and plenty of water.  Please be sure to bring any personal medication that you may require.

In case of inclement weather, please contact the PAC office by 8:15 on the day of the hike, check the PAC website, www.pacolet.org, and/or the PAC Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, to see if the hike will take place.

If you cannot make this hike but would like to attend future hikes, please visit PACs website, www.pacolet.org, or go to PACs Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, for information on upcoming hikes.  The next hike takes place on March 31st at Pisgah National Forest; an 8-mile, moderate, loop hike along the North Slope Connector to Art Loeb Trail.

-article submitted by Pam Torlina

3-3-17_Coontree loop and Bennett Gap hike-Pisgah

PAC hikers on the March 3 hike along the Coontree and Bennett Gap trails at Pisgah National Forest, in no particular order: Libby Vatalaro, Carolyn Parker, Suzanne Engelmann, Jean Shaw, Liz Dicey, Farley Snow, Lois Torlina, Jade Blakey, Edith Castello, Lawrence Poe, Linda Bliven, Cindy Moore, Mary Alm, Dan Easley, Tammy Coleman, Pat Strother, Alan Carron, Mark McCall, and Pam Torlina.  (photo by Ford Smith)

 


 

 

PAC welcomes Dr. Newberry for presentation on endangered plants of the Piedmont

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 3/10/17

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and the Landrum Library invite the public to attend a free presentation on “Endangered Plants of the Piedmont,” presented by Dr. Gillian Newberry.  The program will be held at the Landrum Library, 111 East Asbury Drive Landrum, SC, on Tuesday, March 14 at 6:00 p.m.

The presentation will include tips for the identification of some of the rarest plants in the Piedmont, why they are rare, and why we should care.  Dr. Newberry will include some notes on her research on preserving these endangered species.

She will highlight Oconee Bells (Shortia galacifolia), Dwarf-flowered Heartleaf (Hexastylis naniflora), insectiverous plants (such as sundews (Drosera spp.) and pitcher plants (Sarracenia spp.)), Bunched Arrowhead (Sagittaria fasciculate), American Chestnut (Castanea dentata), and Walking Fern (Asplenium rhizophyllum).

Gillian Newberry is a professor emeritus from University of South Carolina Upstate.  She taught botany, plant geography, zoology, plant taxonomy, and marine biology during her 34 years at USC-Upstate and set up a 16,000 specimen herbarium to aid students in plant identifications.

Dr. Newberry also established the herbarium at Walnut Creek Preserve, housed at the Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center.  Her research interest include plant surveys, plant rescues, establishment of preserves for endangered plant species, and developing techniques to reduce the impact of invasive plant species.

She has worked with PAC on plant surveys numerous times over the years.  She received here PhD in botany in 1976 and was recognized as teacher of the year at USC-Upstate twice.  She was also recognized as teach of the year for the Campuses of the USC system.  Her hobbies include hiking, traveling, reading, and photography.

This program is best for adults and children who listen like adults. Families are welcome too.

For more information, contact the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060 or e-mail landprotection@pacolet.org.  Keep an eye on the PAC website, www.pacolet.org, for information on upcoming PAC/Landrum Library programs at the Landrum Library.  The next scheduled program will take place on April 11th when Dr. Timothy Spira will present on “Favorite Spring Wildflowers in the Blue Ridge Mountains” at 6:00 p.m.

-article submitted by Pam Torlina

Gillian Newberry

Dr. Gillian Newberry will present on rare plants of the Piedmont at the Landrum Library on Tuesday, March 14. (photo submitted by Pam Torlina)


Donations welcome to help preserve former Foster Creek development

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 3/8/17

Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC), which recently purchased the former Foster Creek Preserve property in Columbus, is asking for donations to preserve the property for the public.

CMLC sent a press release last week detailing plans as well as how the property was purchased.

“The scenic ridgeline and south facing slopes of Little White Oak Mountain, slated in the mid-2000s as the site for a 687-unit residential development north of the the Town of Columbus, known as the Foster Creek Preserve, will now be permanently protected thanks to the cooperative action of local organizations,” states the release.  “Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, working closely with the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC), purchased the 1,068-acre property in December 2016 to conserve its dramatic views, rare species, wildlife habitats and opportunities for outdoor recreation.”

The land was purchased through a major gift from Fred and Alice Stanback, of Salisbury and a $1.86 million loan from the Conservation Trust for North Carolina.

“In order to pay back the loan,” CMLC’s release said, “the conservation organizations are now pursuing several fundraising strategies to encourage public engagement and buy in. Donations are welcomed and can be made to either PAC or CMLC and earmarked for the Foster Creek Preserve project.”

CMLC says over coming years, CMLC and PAC hope to transfer portions of the property to capable management of state and local partner organizations, including the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, the Polk County Recreation Department and the Housing Assistance Corporation, which is a non-profit Hendersonville-based developer of affordable housing.

PAC targeted the tract as a conservation priority over the last decade and at one point worked with the previous owner on a plan to protect the high-elevation part of the property with a conservation easement, although the easement never came to fruition, according to CMLC.  PAC, however, maintained contact with the owners and working with CMLC, approached the American Land Fund in 2015 and the dialogue led to the offer to sell for a price below market value,

“PAC is excited to be working with CMLC to create an outcome on the Little White Oak tract that conserves its outstanding natural features while also addressing other community needs,” said PAC President Rebecca Kemp.

Part of the project is to donate approximately 300 acres of the property that abuts Polk County’s recreation complex in Mill Spring.  The additional property could provide local residents and visitors with greater recreational opportunities, including more extensive hiking and mountain biking trails.

Property adjoining Hwy. 108 that is not on steep mountain slopes is planned to be developed as workforce housing development intended to help younger families and middle-income workers, including police officers and teachers build a home.  The planned residential area is 30-60 acres, according to the release.  The homeowners would help build the homes to keep the costs more affordable, with each home anticipated to be valued at $180,000-$200,000.

Up to 600 acres of the property are planned to be added to the adjoining Green River Game Lands.  There is currently 14,000 acres of game land located in and around the Green River Gorge in southeast Henderson and western Polk counties, which is managed by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.  The land is used primarily by anglers, hunters and hikers.  CMLC says though the game land has expanded many times since its creation in 1950, this addition would be the first since 2008 and will provide a public access point from Houston Road in Columbus.

“The conservation partners hope to initiate a master planning process involving public input to determine how the long-term uses of the property can best benefit the community,” states the release.  “For instance, Polk County Middle School adjoins the County Recreation Complex and the Little White Oak property.  Planners will look for opportunities to create trails that might link the school to conserved land, and provide teachers and students with educational and recreational access.”

According to CMLC executive director Kieran Roe, “Due to the substantial change in the local real estate market that occurred after the 2008-09 recession, the extensive residential development once envisioned for the site will never come to pass.  CMLC looks forward to working with PAC and numerous other collaborators on a different, and perhaps better, long-term outcome there for the community.”

Both Columbus Town Council and the Polk County Board of Commissioners have discussed the project since it was unveiled late last year.  Some Columbus council members have expressed interest in de-annexing the Foster Creek property from Columbus town limits.  Polk County commissioners expressed interest in how the town could de-annex the property and if there is a possibility the property will be located in Polk County rather than Columbus.  Neither local government has brought up the development in recent months.

-article written by Leah Justice

Little White Oak Mountain

Foster Creek Preserve


Support PAC and get outdoors with annual PACRun, PACWalk

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 3/3/17

Whether you want to run the 5K, walk the 2-miles, or take a lovely short stroll, the 2017 PACRun and PACWalk has got you covered. Join your friends in helping the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) protect our lovely communities by participating in the 6th annual PACRun and 12th annual PACWalk for Preservation on April 8 at the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE).

The 5K PACRun course traverses varied terrain that is entirely limited to trails and grass, a true trail run that will give you a challenge.  While you are dashing down the trail, for the run or the walk, you will enjoy the charming Blockhouse Creek, see abundant Trillium in bloom, and hear the many frogs and birds in the large wetland area.

PACWalk will also include a meander on the boardwalk over the wetlands, offering a chance to look for turtles, fish, wading birds and more. If strolling is more your cup of tea, then an easy 0.3-mile walk along the paved Wildwood educational trail will allow an opportunity to learn about flora and fauna along the way.

All participants will be entered for a chance to win fabulous door prizes and runners may win prizes for placing in their varied levels.

Join PAC for this fun, family (and pet) friendly event to and do your part to help – save the places you love.

For more information and to pick up an entry form, stop by the PAC office at 2060 Lynn Road, Suite 1, Columbus, NC  28722, visit the PAC website at, www.pacolet.org, where you can download an entry form,  or call the PAC office at 828-859-5060.

Runners can register online at https://eventsignup.org/PACRun.  Please note that there is a late fee, for runners only, if registering after March 24, 2017.

-article written by Carrie KnoxPACWalk_photo by Chris Bartol2016 PACWalkers (photo by Chris Bartol)


Tryon Daily Bulletin, 3/1/17

PACWalk_Run


Tryon Daily Bulletin, 2/28/17

Almanac


Polk County’s Most Wanted — Plant

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 2/28/17

In a joint effort to expand the knowledge and understanding of the flora and fauna of Polk County, the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and botanist, David Campbell need your help in locating this month’s “Polk County’s Most Wanted-Plant,” the enigmatic Virginia Stickseed, (Hackelia virginiana).

Virginia Stickseed belongs to the Borage, or Forget-Me-Not, family of flowering plants.  It is an herbaceous biennial or perennial with simple, oblanceolate, and alternate leaves reaching approximately one to three feet in height.  At the time of flowering, basal leaves are usually absent.  Small white flowers occur in a loose raceme-like panicle, typically between June-August, but sometimes later. The Cherokee utilized this plant to treat cancer, and to help prevent memory loss.

Preferred habitats are rich forests and woodlands over mafic soils that are basic or circumneutral in pH.  Virginia Stickseed is a rare plant in North Carolina, with a spotty distribution that is mainly centered in the mountains, but with some piedmont localities also known.  This species has been previously recorded in Polk County, but not for several decades. Suitable habitat is common in our region, so rediscovery of Hackelia in Polk is a very real possibility.  Study the accompanying picture carefully, or look online for photos, and keep your eyes open for this elusive denizen of our wild areas.  Although not a showy species, much remains to be learned about the distribution of Virginia Stickseed in North Carolina.

As always, if you feel that you have sighted this or any other Polk County’s Most Wanted species, please don’t hesitate to contact staff at the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060, or e-mail comments, questions, or photos to landprotection@pacolet.org.

All of the Polk County’s Most Wanted can be viewed on the PAC website, www.pacolet.org.  Click on the “conservation” tab and scroll down and click on the “Polk County’s Most Wanted” tab.

PAC has also created a “Pocket Guide” of “Polk County’s Most Wanted” that can be printed and taken in the field!  The pocket guide can be accessed on PAC’s website too.

PAC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization (land trust) founded in 1989 to protect and conserve natural resources in the Foothills of North Carolina and the Upstate of South Carolina, with emphasis on the lands and waterways with scenic, ecologic or agricultural significance in the North Pacolet and Green River watersheds (PACs mission).  PAC works with area landowners to ensure the long-term protection of their property through voluntary conservation easements (agreements) which enable landowners to maintain ownership of their property, preserving precious natural resources (open lands, forests, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, farmland, stream banks, etc.), and potentially obtain significant federal and local tax benefits.  PACs vision is a community living and growing in harmony with our natural resources and or goal is to provide a legacy that will endure and be valued by generations to come.  PAC works diligently to provide leadership to encourage conservation and provide education programs emphasizing native species appreciation and responsible land use practices to help – save the places you love.

-article written by David Campbell

virginiana stickseed-flowersVirginia Stickseed (Hackelia virginiana) flowers. (photo by Peter Dziuk)

virginiana stickseed-whole plantVirginia Stickseed (Hackelia virginiana) – the whole plant. (photo by Peter Dziuk)


PAC’s second spring hike heads to Pisgah National Forest, March 3

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 2/26/17 

Join the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) on Friday, March 3, for an approximately 6.5-mile, moderate/strenuous, lollipop hike at Pisgah National Forest.  PAC’s Director of Stewardship and Land Protection, Pam Torlina, will lead the hike.

Hikers will venture to the Coontree Picnic Area in Pisgah National Forest to begin the hike on Coontree Loop Trail.  The trail will lead hikers along Coontree Creek for part of the ascent of Coontree Mountain.  Near the top of the mountain, the group will veer onto the Bennet Gap Trail to hike along the ridgeline and just below the peak of Coontree Mountain.  Passing the peak of the mountain, participants will enjoy beautiful winter views of the surrounding mountains.  After stopping to enjoy a nice lunch, the group will back track, rejoin Coontree Loop Trail, and complete the loop, heading down Coontree Gap, and returning to the picnic/parking area.  This is a moderate hike with some strenuous sections.

If you are interested in attending the PAC hike at Pisgah National Forest, please contact the PAC office to sign up by phone at 828-859-5060 or e-mail, landprotection@pacolet.org.

Hikers are asked to meet at the BI-LO in Columbus at 8:30 a.m. to check in and start the approximately 1-hour drive to Pisgah National Forest.  Hikers should be prepared to return to the area in the mid-afternoon.

For your safety, do not attempt any hike beyond your ability and experience.  Hikers should wear appropriate clothing and footwear; bring a bag lunch and/or snack and plenty of water.  Please be sure to bring any personal medication that you may require.

In case of inclement weather, please contact the PAC office by 8:15 on the day of the hike, check the PAC website, www.pacolet.org, and/or the PAC Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, to see if the hike will take place.

If you cannot make this hike but would like to attend future hikes, please visit PACs website, www.pacolet.org, or go to PACs Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, for information on upcoming hikes.  The next hike takes place on March 17th at the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area; a 5.6-mile, moderate, out and back hike to Moonshine Falls.

-article submitted by Pam Torlina

DSC_0582_1

PAC hikers who participated in the Feb. 17 hike at DuPont State Forest, in no particular order: Ford Smith, Dan Easley, David Stoeckel, Roger Dehnel, Larry Poe, Helen Davis, Alan Carron, Richard Goodman, Vince Castello, Edith Castello, Alan Cameron, Tammy Coleman, William Coleman, Mary Alm, Michelle Keyes, Cindy Moore, Pat Strother, Siegfried Forster, Carolyn Parker, Libby Vatalaro, Gloria Underwood, Marla Cassida, Suzanne Engelman, and Jean Shaw (photo by Pam Torlina)


“Moss Magic in your Landscape,” March 25

Tryon Daily Bulletin,  2/23/17

Annie Martin, nationally-recognized moss landscape designer and author of The Magical World of Moss Gardening (Timber Press, 2015), introduces the joys and environmental benefits of gardening with eco-friendly mosses. The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and Walnut Creek Preserve (WCP) invite the public to attend this free lecture, “Moss Magic in your Landscape,” on Saturday, March 25 at 10:30 am at the Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center at WCP.

After the presentation, Annie will be offering a Hands-On Moss Dish Garden Workshop.  The workshop is $20 per person. Limited space is available and pre-registration, by March 13, is required.

Have you ever desired the year-round green appeal of mosses in your garden? Are you tired of mowing grass? What about that shady place where nothing else will grow? Native mosses are an excellent horticultural alternative.

Known as “Mossin’ Annie,” Martin provides valuable insights on how to transform your garden or lawn into a serene retreat and eco-friendly landscape showcasing the world’s oldest living land plants – mosses!

Martin specializes in creating innovative moss-scapes and cultivates mosses at her Mossery in Brevard, NC. She explains how to transform your yard or convert your grass lawn into a serene, green retreat. Inspirational photographs, moss specimens for ID, and essential how-to gardening tips will help you get started on your own moss gardening projects.

Mossin’ Annie’s passion is contagious and audiences across the country delight in her informative and entertaining programs. To begin your moss journey, join PAC and WCP for this free presentation and register for the fun and informative workshop after the presentation where participants will make their own moss dish gardens to take home.

Martin is the owner of Mountain Moss Enterprises in Pisgah Forest, NC and Timber Press author of The Magical World of Moss Gardening. Autographed books will be available for purchase after the lecture and workshop.

Martin has been featured in newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, Our State magazine, Carolina Home and Garden magazine and many more.

To register for workshop or to obtain more information, contact PAC at 828-859-5060 or email, landprotection@pacolet.org.  For more about Martin’s Mossy endeavors or to buy mosses for yourself, visit www.mountainmoss.com.

-article submitted by Pam Torlina

AnnieGardenPortraitREAL

Annie Martin (Photo submitted by Annie Martin, mountainmoss.com)


McDermott named to Second Wind Hall of Fame 

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 2/23/17

Renée McDermott has been named to the Second Wind Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC).  Rebecca Kemp, President of the Board of Directors of PAC, presented the award at the PAC volunteer recognition party, which was hosted by Betsy and Dee Miner at their lovely home on Sunday, February 12.  The award reads in part, “In recognition of a useful and productive life, continuing beyond retirement, while others paused to rest, this dedicated person caught a ‘second wind’ and began a new career of service to the community and to mankind.”

McDermott has certainly fulfilled that criterion. She has worked on behalf of the Pacolet Area Conservancy for years, serving as chair of the Land Committee, Vice President of the Board of Directors, and twice as President of the Board.  She has been an invaluable resource regarding the development and writing of conservation agreements between PAC and people who desire to protect their land. She has always been ready to help when called upon when her expertise and skill were needed in service of conservation.

Additionally, she has served as a member of the board of the Polk County Community Foundation and has served on both its Distribution and Education Committees.  She has served on the Polk County Land Use Planning Commission, Groundwater Sustainability Project, and the Ridgetop and Mountain Preservation Group.  She is a Master Gardener volunteer, as well.

In 2008 she was elected a Polk County Commissioner.  During her tenure she served on the Department of Social Services Board, the Region C Aging Advisory Board, the Home and Community Care Block Grant Committee, and the Unified Development Ordinance Committee.

McDermott grew up in Florida and received her Bachelor’s degree in English and journalism at the University of South Florida, where she later received a Master’s degree in math and science education. She taught math and science as well as English and journalism at the middle and high school level before deciding to pursue a law degree. She graduated magna cum laude from the Indiana University – Bloomington School of Law. She practiced environmental law in Indianapolis, Indiana for 25 years, during which time she also served as county attorney for 5 years.

In 1999 Renée McDermott and her husband Jim moved from Indiana to Tryon, where they live with their dog Caitlin on a beautiful property protected by a conservation agreement with PAC. The Pacolet Area Conservancy is proud to present her as a Second Wind Hall of Fame member.

Article submitted by Carole Bartol

DSC_0521

Rebecca Kemp, left, president of the board of directors of PAC, presents the Second Wind Hall of Fame award to Renee McDermott. (photo by Steve Bardos)


Native Orchids of the Southern Appalachian Mountains subject of PAC talk

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 2/19/17

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and the Landrum Library invite the public to attend a free presentation on “Native Orchids of the Southern Appalachian Mountains,” presented by Jim Fowler.  The program will be held at the Landrum Library, 111 East Asbury Drive Landrum, SC, on Thursday, February 23 at 6:30 p.m.

The Southern Appalachian Mountains region is recognized as one of the most floristically diverse areas in North America.  Its rich forests and wet, boggy meadows provide the perfect environment for dozens of species of our colorful and mysterious native orchids. Stretching from West Virginia to northern Alabama, the rolling hillsides are host to orchid flowers from March to November.

Many of our native orchid species are quite small, and some of them would not be recognized as orchid species except by a trained naturalist. Learning to identify a few of the more common species will add richness to any hike in the woods.

While there are only three of our native orchid species that keep their green leaves through the winter, many of those that lose their leaves in the fall will leave their characteristic seed capsules behind for identification. If you know where to look, it is surprisingly easy to find many of the more common orchid species even on roadside margins within easy reach for photography and study.  Come join Jim for an in-depth look into the jewels of Southern Appalachian flora.

Jim Fowler is an independent botanist, photographer, and author.  He will have copies of his book, Wild Orchids of South Carolina: A Popular Natural History, available for purchase for those that are interested.

This program is best for adults and children who listen like adults. Families are welcome too.

This program is made possible thanks to a Free Community Events grant from the Polk County Community Foundation (PCCF).

For more information, contact the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060 or e-mail landprotection@pacolet.org.  Keep an eye on the PAC website, www.pacolet.org, for information on upcoming PAC/Landrum Library programs at the Landrum Library.  The next scheduled program will take place on March 14th when Dr. Gillian Newberry will present on “Endangered Plants of the Piedmont” at 6 p.m.

article submitted by Pam Torlina

Pink Lady SlipperPink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule), a native and showy orchid. (photo by Ben Geer Keys)


Tryon Daily Bulletin, 2/17/17

Feb-WCP


North Carolina’s Red Wolves

Polk County News Journal & the News Leader/Upstate Newspapers, 2/15/17  

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and Walnut Creek Preserve (WCP) invite the public to attend a free presentation on “North Carolina’s Red Wolves: An Imperiled Future,” presented by Christian Hunt with Defenders of Wildlife.  The program will be held at the Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center at Walnut Creek Preserve on Saturday, February 18th, at 10:30 a.m.

The Red Wolf (Canis rufus) is a smaller and a more slender cousin of the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus).  It is gray-black, with a reddish cast that gives it the color for which it is named.  Historically, Red Wolves ranged throughout the southeastern U.S., from Pennsylvania to Florida, and as far west as Texas.  Almost hunted to the brink of extinction, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rounded up fewer than 20 Red Wolves to be bred in captivity in 1980.  As of 2007, approximately 207 captive Red Wolves reside at 38 captive breeding facilities across the United States; however, fewer than 45 Red Wolves currently live in the wild.  Today, wild populations roam more than 1.7 million acres throughout northeastern North Carolina.  Christian will be discussing the history, biology, threats, political atmosphere, and benefits that the Red Wolf brings to our ecosystem.

To get to Walnut Creek Preserve’s Nature Center from the Tryon and Columbus area, take Hwy 108 E and turn left on Hwy 9 toward Lake Lure.  Follow Hwy 9 N for 5 miles and turn right onto McGuinn Road (at the Exxon Station).  Go 1 mile to the intersection with Big Level Road; turn left, go 2/10ths of a mile and take the first right onto Aden Green Road.  Follow Aden Green for 4/10ths of a mile and turn left on Wood Thrush Lane and into Walnut Creek Preserve.  Take the first left onto Conservatory Lane, which takes you to the parking area for the nature center. (GPS coordinates to the Nature Center are available at the PAC website.)

For more information or directions from another location, contact the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060 or e-mail landprotection@pacolet.org.  The next PAC/WCP program will be held on March 25th, Annie Martin, popularly known as “Mossin’ Annie,” will present “Moss Magic in your Landscape.” There is an optional invitation to attend a moss gardening workshop afterward, but registration is mandatory.  Please sign up today, if you’re interested!

For more information about Walnut Creek Preserve, visit www.walnutcreekpreserve.com.  Please note, Walnut Creek Preserve is private property and guests are only allowed on the property by invitation (a planned event or scheduled group). Thank you.

PAC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization (land trust) founded in 1989 to protect and conserve natural resources in the Foothills of North Carolina and the Upstate of South Carolina, with emphasis on the lands and waterways with scenic, ecologic or agricultural significance in the North Pacolet and Green River watersheds (PAC’s mission).  PAC works with area landowners to ensure the long-term protection of their property through voluntary conservation easements (agreements) which enable landowners to continue ownership of their property, preserve precious natural resources (open lands, forests, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, farmland, stream banks, etc.), and potentially obtain significant federal and local tax benefits.  PAC works diligently to provide leadership to encourage conservation and offers education programs emphasizing responsible land use practices to help – save the places you love.

by Pam Torlina

4237167628_5fc4c49713The Red Wolf (Canis rufus)


Join PAC for the First Hike of the Spring Hiking Series, February 17th!

Polk County News Journal, 2/15/17

HikerJoin the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) on Friday, February 17, for an approximately 7-mile, easy, loop hike at DuPont State Forest.  PAC’s Director of Stewardship and Land Protection, Pam Torlina, will lead the hike.

Hikers will venture to the Guion Farm area of DuPont State Forest, off of Sky Valley Road.  The trail will lead hikers along old roadbeds, through a managed pine forest, and past Thomas Cemetery, named for the family that lived near the site in the 19th century.  Hikers will take a short jaunt to view Wintergreen Falls, and then return to the main loop, making their way back to the parking area.

If you are interested in attending the PAC hike at DuPont State Forest, please contact the PAC office to sign up by phone at 828-859-5060 or e-mail, landprotection@pacolet.org.


Polk County News Journal

2/15/17

PACWalk


Orchids of the Southern Appalachian Mountains” Thursday, February 23rd at Landrum Library

Polk County News Journal, 2/15/17

library-logojims-avatar

We hope you can join us for the first program of 2017 at the Landrum Library on Thursday, February 23rd at 6:30 p.m., as Jim Fowler, presents The Southern Appalachian Mountains region is recognized as one of the most floristically diverse areas in North America.  Its rich forests and wet, boggy meadows provide the perfect environment for dozens of species of our colorful and mysterious native orchids.  Stretching from West Virginia to northern Alabama, the rolling hillsides are host to orchid flowers from March to November.

Many of our native orchid species are quite small, and some of them would not be recognized as orchid species except by a trained naturalist.  Learning to identify a few of the more common species will add richness to any hike in the woods.

While there are only three of our native orchid species that keep their green leaves through the winter, many of those that lose their leaves in the fall will leave their characteristic seed capsules behind for identification. If you know where to look, it is surprisingly easy to find many of the more common orchid species even on roadside margins within easy reach for photography and study.

Come join us for an in-depth look into the jewels of Southern Appalachian flora.

This program is made possible thanks to a Free Community Events grant from the Polk County Community Foundation (PCCF).


Saluda Lifestyles (online)

2/14/17

Events & Hikes by Pacolet Area Conservancy

PAC’s First Hike of the Spring Hiking Series, February 17

IMG_4855Join the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) on Friday, February 17, for an approximately 7-mile, easy, loop hike at DuPont State Forest.  PAC’s Director of Stewardship and Land Protection, Pam Torlina, will lead the hike.

Hikers will venture to the Guion Farm area of DuPont State Forest, off of Sky Valley Road.  The trail will lead hikers along old roadbeds, through a managed pine forest, and past Thomas Cemetery, named for the family that lived near the site in the 19th century.  Hikers will take a short jaunt to view Wintergreen Falls, and then return to the main loop, making their way back to the parking area.

If you are interested in attending the PAC hike at DuPont State Forest, please contact the PAC office to sign up by phone at 828-859-5060 or e-mail, landprotection@pacolet.org.

Hikers are asked to meet at the BI-LO in Columbus at 8:30 a.m. to check in and start the approximately 45-minute drive to DuPont State Forest.  Hikers should be prepared to return to the area in the mid-afternoon.

For your safety, do not attempt any hike beyond your ability and experience.  Hikers should wear appropriate clothing and footwear; bring a bag lunch and/or snack and plenty of water.  Please be sure to bring any personal medication that you may require.

In case of inclement weather, please contact the PAC office by 8:15 on the day of the hike, check the PAC website, www.pacolet.org, and/or the PAC Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, to see if the hike will take place.

If you cannot make this hike but would like to attend future hikes, please visit PACs website, www.pacolet.org, or go to PACs Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, for information on upcoming hikes.  The next hike takes place on March 3rd at Pisgah National Forest, on the Coontree loop and Bennett Gap trails.

PAC/WCP Program on “North Carolina’s Red Wolves,” February 18

4237167628_5fc4c49713The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and Walnut Creek Preserve (WCP) invite the public to attend a free presentation on “North Carolina’s Red Wolves: An Imperiled Future,” presented by Christian Hunt with Defenders of Wildlife.  The program will be held at the Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center at Walnut Creek Preserve on Saturday, February 18th, at 10:30 a.m.

The Red Wolf (Canis rufus) is a smaller and a more slender cousin of the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus).  It is gray-black, with a reddish cast that gives it the color for which it is named.  Historically, Red Wolves ranged throughout the southeastern U.S., from Pennsylvania to Florida, and as far west as Texas.  Almost hunted to the brink of extinction, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rounded up fewer than 20 Red Wolves to be bred in captivity in 1980.  As of 2007, approximately 207 captive Red Wolves reside at 38 captive breeding facilities across the United States; however, fewer than 45 Red Wolves currently live in the wild.  Today, wild populations roam more than 1.7 million acres throughout northeastern North Carolina.  Christian will be discussing the history, biology, threats, political atmosphere, and benefits that the Red Wolf brings to our ecosystem.

To get to Walnut Creek Preserve’s Nature Center from the Tryon and Columbus area, take Hwy 108 E and turn left on Hwy 9 toward Lake Lure.  Follow Hwy 9 N for 5 miles and turn right onto McGuinn Road (at the Exxon Station).  Go 1 mile to the intersection with Big Level Road; turn left, go 2/10ths of a mile and take the first right onto Aden Green Road.  Follow Aden Green for 4/10ths of a mile and turn left on Wood Thrush Lane and into Walnut Creek Preserve.  Take the first left onto Conservatory Lane, which takes you to the parking area for the nature center. (GPS coordinates to the Nature Center are available at the PAC website.)

For more information or directions from another location, contact the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060 or e-mail landprotection@pacolet.org.

The next PAC/WCP program will be held on March 25th, Annie Martin, popularly known as “Mossin’ Annie,” will present “Moss Magic in your Landscape.” There is an optional invitation to attend a moss gardening workshop afterward, but registration is mandatory.  Please sign up today, if you’re interested!

For more information about Walnut Creek Preserve, visit www.walnutcreekpreserve.com.

Preserve is private property and guests are only allowed on the property by invitation (a planned event or scheduled group).


PAC’s first Hike of the Spring Hiking Series, February 17th!

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 2/12/17

Join the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) on Friday, February 17, for an approximately 7-mile, easy, loop hike at DuPont State Forest.  PAC’s Director of Stewardship and Land Protection, Pam Torlina, will lead the hike.

Hikers will venture to the Guion Farm area of DuPont State Forest, off of Sky Valley Road.  The trail will lead hikers along old roadbeds, through a managed pine forest, and past Thomas Cemetery, named for the family that lived near the site in the 19th century.  Hikers will take a short jaunt to view Wintergreen Falls, and then return to the main loop, making their way back to the parking area.

If you are interested in attending the PAC hike at DuPont State Forest, please contact the PAC office to sign up by phone at 828-859-5060 or e-mail, landprotection@pacolet.org.

Hikers are asked to meet at the BI-LO in Columbus at 8:30 a.m. to check in and start the approximately 45-minute drive to DuPont State Forest.  Hikers should be prepared to return to the area in the mid-afternoon.

For your safety, do not attempt any hike beyond your ability and experience.  Hikers should wear appropriate clothing and footwear; bring a bag lunch and/or snack and plenty of water.  Please be sure to bring any personal medication that you may require.

In case of inclement weather, please contact the PAC office by 8:15 on the day of the hike, check the PAC website, www.pacolet.org, and/or the PAC Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, to see if the hike will take place.

If you cannot make this hike but would like to attend future hikes, please visit PACs website, www.pacolet.org, or go to PACs Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, for information on upcoming hikes.  The next hike takes place on March 3rd at Pisgah National Forest, on the Coontree loop and Bennett Gap trails.

article submitted by Pam Torlina

IMG_4855Wintergreen Falls will be one of the sights along the Feb. 17 hike with PAC. (photo by Pam Torlina)


North Carolina’s Red Wolves subject of PAC presentation

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 2/12/17  

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and Walnut Creek Preserve (WCP) invite the public to attend a free presentation on “North Carolina’s Red Wolves: An Imperiled Future,” presented by Christian Hunt with Defenders of Wildlife.  The program will be held at the Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center at Walnut Creek Preserve on Saturday, February 18th, at 10:30 a.m.

The Red Wolf (Canis rufus) is a smaller and a more slender cousin of the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus).  It is gray-black, with a reddish cast that gives it the color for which it is named.  Historically, Red Wolves ranged throughout the southeastern U.S., from Pennsylvania to Florida, and as far west as Texas.  Almost hunted to the brink of extinction, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rounded up fewer than 20 Red Wolves to be bred in captivity in 1980.  As of 2007, approximately 207 captive Red Wolves reside at 38 captive breeding facilities across the United States; however, fewer than 45 Red Wolves currently live in the wild.  Today, wild populations roam more than 1.7 million acres throughout northeastern North Carolina.  Christian will be discussing the history, biology, threats, political atmosphere, and benefits that the Red Wolf brings to our ecosystem.

To get to Walnut Creek Preserve’s Nature Center from the Tryon and Columbus area, take Hwy 108 E and turn left on Hwy 9 toward Lake Lure.  Follow Hwy 9 N for 5 miles and turn right onto McGuinn Road (at the Exxon Station).  Go 1 mile to the intersection with Big Level Road; turn left, go 2/10ths of a mile and take the first right onto Aden Green Road.  Follow Aden Green for 4/10ths of a mile and turn left on Wood Thrush Lane and into Walnut Creek Preserve.  Take the first left onto Conservatory Lane, which takes you to the parking area for the nature center. (GPS coordinates to the Nature Center are available at the PAC website.)

For more information or directions from another location, contact the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060 or e-mail landprotection@pacolet.org.  The next PAC/WCP program will be held on March 25th, Annie Martin, popularly known as “Mossin’ Annie,” will present “Moss Magic in your Landscape.” There is an optional invitation to attend a moss gardening workshop afterward, but registration is mandatory.  Please sign up today, if you’re interested!

For more information about Walnut Creek Preserve, visit www.walnutcreekpreserve.com.  Please note, Walnut Creek Preserve is private property and guests are only allowed on the property by invitation (a planned event or scheduled group).

article submitted by Pam Torlina

4237167628_5fc4c49713The Red Wolf (Canis rufus)


Tryon Daily Bulletin, 2/10/17

Moss ad


PAC’s first Hike of the Spring Hiking Series, February 17th!

The Polk County News Journal, 2/8/17

Join the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) on Friday, February 17, for an approximately 7-mile, easy, loop hike at DuPont State Forest.  PAC’s Director of Stewardship and Land Protection, Pam Torlina, will lead the hike.

Hikers will venture to the Guion Farm area of DuPont State Forest, off of Sky Valley Road.  The trail will lead hikers along old roadbeds, through a managed pine forest, and past Thomas Cemetery, named for the family that lived near the site in the 19th century.  Hikers will take a short jaunt to view Wintergreen Falls, and then return to the main loop, making their way back to the parking area.

If you are interested in attending the PAC hike at DuPont State Forest, please contact the PAC office to sign up by phone at 828-859-5060 or e-mail, landprotection@pacolet.org.

Hikers are asked to meet at the BI-LO in Columbus at 8:30 a.m. to check in and start the approximately 45-minute drive to DuPont State Forest.  Hikers should be prepared to return to the area in the mid-afternoon.

For your safety, do not attempt any hike beyond your ability and experience.  Hikers should wear appropriate clothing and footwear; bring a bag lunch and/or snack and plenty of water.  Please be sure to bring any personal medication that you may require.

In case of inclement weather, please contact the PAC office by 8:15 on the day of the hike, check the PAC website, www.pacolet.org, and/or the PAC Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, to see if the hike will take place.

If you cannot make this hike but would like to attend future hikes, please visit PACs website, www.pacolet.org, or go to PACs Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy, for information on upcoming hikes.  The next hike takes place on March 3rd at Pisgah National Forest, on the Coontree loop and Bennett Gap trails.

PAC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization (land trust) founded in 1989 to protect and conserve natural resources in the Foothills of North Carolina and the Upstate of South Carolina, with emphasis on the lands and waterways with scenic, ecologic or agricultural significance in the North Pacolet and Green River watersheds (PAC’s mission).  PAC works with area landowners to ensure the long-term protection of their property through voluntary conservation easements (agreements) which enable landowners to continue ownership of their property, preserve precious natural resources (open lands, forests, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, farmland, stream banks, etc.), and potentially obtain significant federal and local tax benefits.  PAC works diligently to provide leadership to encourage conservation and offers education programs emphasizing responsible land use practices to help – save the places you love.

by Pam Torlina

IMG_4855Wintergreen Falls, just one of the beautiful sights along the February 17th hike with PAC. (photo by Pam Torlina)


Polk County’s Most Wanted: Spreading Rockcress

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 2/5/17

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and botanist, David Campbell, are working on a joint effort to expand the knowledge and understanding of the flora and fauna of Polk County.  In the spirit of the New Year (and the impending Spring season!) this month’s Polk County’s Most Wanted will focus on an early-flowering member of the Mustard family – Spreading Rockcress (Arabis patens).

For our February installment in our continuing series of ‘Polk County’s Most Wanted’ we will be looking at the enigmatic Virginia Stickseed, (Hackelia virginiana).  Belonging to the Borage, or Forget-Me-Not family of flowering plants, Virginia Stickseed is a herbaceous biennial or perennial, with simple oblanceolate and alternate leaves, reaching approximately one to three feet in height.  At the time of flowering, basal leaves are usually absent.  Small white flowers occur in a loose raceme-like panicle, typically between June-August, but sometimes later. The Cherokee utilized this plant to treat cancer, and to help prevent memory loss.

Preferred habitats are rich forests and woodlands over mafic soils that are basic or circumneutral in pH.  Virginia Stickseed is a rare plant in North Carolina, with a spotty distribution mainly centered in the mountains, but with some piedmont localities known also.  This species has been previously recorded in Polk County, but not for several decades. Suitable habitat is common in our region, so rediscovery of Hackelia in Polk is a very real possibility.  Study the accompanying pictures carefully, or look online for photos- keep your eyes open for this elusive denizen of our wild areas.  Although not a showy species, much remains to be learned about the distribution of Virgina Stickseed in North Carolina.

As always, if you feel that you have sighted this or any other PCMW species, please don’t hesitate to contact staff at the Pacolet Area Conservancy.

If you think you have located Spreading Rockcress, please take a photograph of it, and contact the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060, or e-mail comments, questions to landprotection@pacolet.org.

All of the Polk County’s Most Wanted can be viewed on the PAC website, www.pacolet.org.  Click on the “conservation” tab and scroll down and click on the “Polk County’s Most Wanted” tab.

PAC has also created a “Pocket Guide” of “Polk County’s Most Wanted” that can be printed and taken in the field!  The pocket guide can be accessed on PAC’s website too.

article submitted by David Campbell

spreadingrockcressSpreading Rockcress (Arabis patens) (photo submitted by Pam Torlina)


PAC Kicks off its Spring Hiking Series Friday, February 17th!

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 2/5/17

Join the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) for five Friday hikes offered to the public, free of charge, this spring.

The community is invited to enjoy the beauty of our Carolinas with PAC.  Come see what the work of many conservation organizations have done for the preservation of area natural resources and take in the beauty of the arrival of spring!

Starting February 17, PAC’s first trek will head to DuPont State Forest for an approximately 7-mile, easy, loop hike.  The trail will lead hikers along old roadbeds, through a managed pine forest and past Thomas cemetery, named for the family that lived near the site in the 19th century.  Hikers will take a short jaunt to view Wintergreen Falls, and then return to the main loop, making their way back to the parking area.

On March 3, the hike will take place in Pisgah National Forest, along the Coontree loop and Bennett Gap trails.  On this moderate, 6.6-mile hike in the shape of a lollipop, participants will enjoy terrific views of the surrounding mountains along Bennett Gap before descending and completing the journey with a walk along Coontree Creek.

On March 17, the group will head to the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area for a 5.6-mile, moderate, out and back hike along the Pinnacle Pass and Naturaland Trust trails to Moonshine Falls.

On March 31, hikers head back to Pisgah National Forest for a moderate 8-mile, loop hike starting from the Davidson River Campground.  The hike will follow the Davidson River to the North Slope trail through a dense deciduous forest, and then veer onto the Connector trail to the Art Loeb trail which follows Shut-in Ridge before heading back down to the campground and parking area.

Finally, on April 14, the group heads to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for a 6.8-mile, moderate hike along Asbury Trail which straddles the boundary between the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the Appalachian Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest.

If you are interested in attending the PAC spring hikes and would like more information, please call the PAC office at 828-859-5060 or e-mail landprotection@pacolet.org.  You can also find information on PAC’s website, www.pacolet.org, and on PAC’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pacoletarea.conservancy.

PAC invites the public to participate in a “Hiking Challenge!”  Complete all five of the hikes this spring and receive a custom bumper sticker acknowledging your accomplishment!

article submitted by Pam Torlina

P1100843PAC hikers Estell Osten, Bill Coleman, and Tammy Coleman on a PAC hike in the spring of 2015. (photo submitted by Pam Torlina)


February 2017

Life in our Foothills

MeClick here to read the story featuring PAC’s Pam Torlina!


Tryon Daily Bulletin, 1/28/17

Move


Tryon Daily Bulletin, 1/19/17

Seeing with new eyes-January WCP


PAC/WCP Program “Seeing with New Eyes,” Jan. 21

Polk County News Journal & the News Leader/Upstate Newspapers, 1/18/17

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and Walnut Creek Preserve (WCP) invite the public to attend a free presentation on “Seeing with New Eyes,” presented by Ben Mullinax.  The program will be held at the Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center at Walnut Creek Preserve on Saturday, January 21st, at 10:30 a.m.

Ben will use photography to explore the quote by Dorothea Lange that, “A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.”  He will show participants how we can use photography to explore and find the extraordinary in the ordinary, and show examples of how changes in lighting, time of day, shadows, perspective/viewpoint makes this possible.  Ben’s hope is that the presentation will help people rethink how they view their own photography and also that it might be useful to non-photographers who will have the opportunity to learn to appreciate and practice “seeing” in a new and different way.  The presentation will include photography of nature scenes and macro-photography that reflects the points above.

To get to Walnut Creek Preserve’s Nature Center from the Tryon and Columbus area, take Hwy 108 E and turn left on Hwy 9 toward Lake Lure.  Follow Hwy 9 N for 5 miles and turn right onto McGuinn Road (at the Exxon Station).  Go 1 mile to the intersection with Big Level Road; turn left, go 2/10ths of a mile and take the first right onto Aden Green Road.  Follow Aden Green for 4/10ths of a mile and turn left on Wood Thrush Lane and into Walnut Creek Preserve.  Take the first left onto Conservatory Lane, which takes you to the parking area for the nature center. (GPS coordinates to the Nature Center are available at the PAC website.)

For more information or directions from another location, contact the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060 or e-mail landprotection@pacolet.org.  The next PAC/WCP program will be held on February 18th on “North Carolina’s Red Wolves: An Imperiled Future,” presented by Christian Hunt with Defenders of Wildlife.  For more information about Walnut Creek Preserve, visit www.walnutcreekpreserve.com.  Please note, Walnut Creek Preserve is private property and guests are only allowed on the property by invitation (a planned event or scheduled group).  Thank you.

PAC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization (land trust) founded in 1989 to protect and conserve natural resources in the Foothills of North Carolina and the Upstate of South Carolina, with emphasis on the lands and waterways with scenic, ecologic or agricultural significance in the North Pacolet and Green River watersheds (PACs mission).  PAC works with area landowners to ensure the long-term protection of their property through voluntary conservation easements (agreements) which enable landowners to maintain ownership of their property, preserving precious natural resources (open lands, forests, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, farmland, stream banks, etc.), and potentially obtain significant federal and local tax benefits.  PACs vision is a community living and growing in harmony with our natural resources and or goal is to provide a legacy that will endure and be valued by generations to come.  PAC works diligently to provide leadership to encourage conservation and provide education programs emphasizing native species appreciation and responsible land use practices to help – save the places you love.

by Pam Torlina

Seeing with new eyes3Photo by Bill Mullinax


Tryon Daily Bulletin, 1/12/17

Ripple effect


Verbonic named to Second Wind Hall of Fame

Polk County News Journal & the News Leader/Upstate Newspapers, 1/11/17

Gretchen Verbonic has been named to the Second Wind Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Pacolet Area Conservancy.  On December 23, 2016, she was presented with the award, which reads, “In recognition of a useful and productive life, continuing beyond retirement, while others paused to rest, this dedicated person caught a ‘second wind’ and began a new career of service to the community and to mankind.”

Verbonic certainly embodies the philosophy of service.  After moving to the area in 2000, she has been involved with the Foothills Equestrian and Nature Center (FENCE) as a board member, finance committee member, and participant in the TROT program. She has painted sets and done stage decoration for Tryon Little Theater, has been involved with the Lake Lanier Homeowners Association, and has been a dedicated office volunteer for the Pacolet Area Conservancy.

Verbonic’s careers were in the computer and equestrian fields. Growing up in Michigan, she began riding hunters, equitation and event horses as a child, and also began dressage at an early age. Following a career in computers in Washington, D.C., she moved to Northern Virginia and took up foxhunting.  As well as competing herself, she trained horses and riders. She became a nationally known, licensed dressage judge,  which she did for over 35 years. In August of 2010, The Chronicle of the Horse published her article, “Reflections of Ye Crochety Olde Dressage Judge.”

Prior to moving to this area, Gretchen and her husband Mike lived at their historic Checkmate Farm in Hamilton, VA. They currently reside at Lake Lanier in Landrum with their pug, Dixie Belle.

by Carole Bartol

gretchen-second-wind-hall-of-fame2Carole Bartol, left, PAC board member, presents Gretchen Verbonic, right, with the Second Wind Hall of Fame award. (photo submitted by Carole Bartol)


Photography workshop to examine “Seeing with New Eyes”

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 1/10/17

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and Walnut Creek Preserve (WCP) invite the public to attend a free presentation on “Seeing with New Eyes,” presented by Ben Mullinax.  The program will be held at the Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center at Walnut Creek Preserve on Saturday, January 21st, at 10:30 a.m.

Ben will use photography to explore the quote by Dorothea Lange that, “A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.”  He will show participants how we can use photography to explore and find the extraordinary in the ordinary, and show examples of how changes in lighting, time of day, shadows, perspective/viewpoint makes this possible.  Ben’s hope is that the presentation will help people rethink how they view their own photography and also that it might be useful to non-photographers who will have the opportunity to learn to appreciate and practice “seeing” in a new and different way.  The presentation will include photography of nature scenes and macro-photography that reflects the points above.

To get to Walnut Creek Preserve’s Nature Center from the Tryon and Columbus area, take Hwy 108 E and turn left on Hwy 9 toward Lake Lure.  Follow Hwy 9 N for 5 miles and turn right onto McGuinn Road (at the Exxon Station).  Go 1 mile to the intersection with Big Level Road; turn left, go 2/10ths of a mile and take the first right onto Aden Green Road.  Follow Aden Green for 4/10ths of a mile and turn left on Wood Thrush Lane and into Walnut Creek Preserve.  Take the first left onto Conservatory Lane, which takes you to the parking area for the nature center. (GPS coordinates to the Nature Center are available at the PAC website.)

For more information or directions from another location, contact the Pacolet Area Conservancy at 828-859-5060 or e-mail landprotection@pacolet.org.  The next PAC/WCP program will be held on February 18th on “North Carolina’s Red Wolves: An Imperiled Future,” presented by Christian Hunt with Defenders of Wildlife.  For more information about Walnut Creek Preserve, visit www.walnutcreekpreserve.com.

article submitted by Pam Torlina

Seeing with new eyes3Photo by Bill Mullinax


Verbonic named to Second Wind Hall of Fame

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 1/6/17

Gretchen Verbonic has been named to the Second Wind Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Pacolet Area Conservancy.  On December 23, 2016, she was presented with the award, which reads, “In recognition of a useful and productive life, continuing beyond retirement, while others paused to rest, this dedicated person caught a ‘second wind’ and began a new career of service to the community and to mankind.”

Verbonic certainly embodies the philosophy of service.  After moving to the area in 2000, she has been involved with the Foothills Equestrian and Nature Center (FENCE) as a board member, finance committee member, and participant in the TROT program. She has painted sets and done stage decoration for Tryon Little Theater, has been involved with the Lake Lanier Homeowners Association, and has been a dedicated office volunteer for the Pacolet Area Conservancy.

Verbonic’s careers were in the computer and equestrian fields. Growing up in Michigan, she began riding hunters, equitation and event horses as a child, and also began dressage at an early age. Following a career in computers in Washington, D.C., she moved to Northern Virginia and took up foxhunting.  As well as competing herself, she trained horses and riders. She became a nationally known, licensed dressage judge,  which she did for over 35 years. In August of 2010, The Chronicle of the Horse published her article, “Reflections of Ye Crochety Olde Dressage Judge.”

Prior to moving to this area, Gretchen and her husband Mike lived at their historic Checkmate Farm in Hamilton, VA. They currently reside at Lake Lanier in Landrum with their pug, Dixie Belle.

article submitted by Carole Bartol

gretchen-second-wind-hall-of-fame2Carole Bartol, left, PAC board member, presents Gretchen Verbonic, right, with the Second Wind Hall of Fame award. (photo submitted by Carole Bartol)


Polk County’s Most Wanted – Animal, The Barn Owl

Polk County News Journal & the News Leader/Upstate Newspapers, 1/4/17

In a joint effort to expand the knowledge and understanding of the flora and fauna of Polk County, the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and botanist, David Campbell need your help in locating this month’s “Polk County’s Most Wanted-Animal,” the Barn Owl (Tyto alba), a ghostly nocturnal denizen of our fields and farmlands.

The Barn Owl is a distinctive species, buff in coloration with a slightly darker back.  They have a white, heart-shaped face and stand approximately one and a half feet in height.  The Barn Owl is an unmistakable member of our avian fauna.  In flight, it often looks entirely white.  The preferred prey of the Barn Owl includes mice, voles, and other rodents.

As its common name suggests, the Barn Owl often frequents farmlands and fields.  In pre-Colombian times, this species likely nested in large, hollow trees; however, with the settlement of the land by Europeans, Barn Owls happily took up residence in silos, tobacco sheds, various outbuildings, and of course, in barns.  When present, Barn Owls can be difficult to detect, and purposeful searching may be required to find them.

An uncommon and rarely observed species, the Barn Owl has been declining in abundance for the past several decades.  Likely reasons for the decline include a loss of habitat, the destruction or decay of old barns, the switch by farmers from wooden barns with gaps or openings to fully-enclosed metal barns, and also the possible displacement or predation of the Barn Owl by Great Horned owls.

The Barn Owl occurs widely throughout North Carolina, but is not common.  To our knowledge, Polk County has never reported an occurrence of this species, but it has been observed nesting just across the state line in Spartanburg County, South Carolina.  There is a recent record of nesting in Burke County also.  Barn Owls could very well be found in Polk County, and as an easily identified species, there should be no mistake in identifying it.  The Pacolet Conservancy would be very interested in hearing from readers who may have knowledge of Barn Owls spotted in the county.

If you have information relating to this species, please contact PAC at 828-859-5060, or e-mail comments, questions, or photos to, landprotection@pacolet.org.

All of the Polk County’s Most Wanted can be viewed on the PAC website, www.pacolet.org.  Click on the “conservation” tab and scroll down and click on the “Polk County’s Most Wanted” tab.

PAC has also created a “Pocket Guide” of “Polk County’s Most Wanted” that can be printed and taken in the field!  The pocket guide can be accessed on PAC’s website too.

PAC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization (land trust) founded in 1989 to protect and conserve natural resources in the Foothills of North Carolina and the Upstate of South Carolina, with emphasis on the lands and waterways with scenic, ecologic or agricultural significance in the North Pacolet and Green River watersheds (PACs mission).  PAC works with area landowners to ensure the long-term protection of their property through voluntary conservation easements (agreements) which enable landowners to maintain ownership of their property, preserving precious natural resources (open lands, forests, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, farmland, stream banks, etc.), and potentially obtain significant federal and local tax benefits.  PACs vision is a community living and growing in harmony with our natural resources and or goal is to provide a legacy that will endure and be valued by generations to come.  PAC works diligently to provide leadership to encourage conservation and provide education programs emphasizing native species appreciation and responsible land use practices to help – save the places you love.

by David Campbell

495px-tyto_albaThe Barn Owl (Tyto alba)


HAVE YOU SEEN ME?

Tryon Daily Bulletin, 1/3/17 – cover

495px-tyto_albaOn a regular basis, the Pacolet Area Conservancy asks for the community’s help in documenting sightings of animals.  This month, PAC is searching for the barn owl, a ghostly nocturnal denizen of our fields and farmlands.  (photo submitted by Pam Torlina)

Barn owl is Polk County’s Most Wanted – Animal – page 4

In a joint effort to expand the knowledge and understanding of the flora and fauna of Polk County, the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and botanist, David Campbell need your help in locating this month’s “Polk County’s Most Wanted-Animal,” the Barn Owl (Tyto alba), a ghostly nocturnal denizen of our fields and farmlands.

The Barn Owl is a distinctive species, buff in coloration with a slightly darker back.  They have a white, heart-shaped face and stand approximately one and a half feet in height.  The Barn Owl is an unmistakable member of our avian fauna.  In flight, it often looks entirely white.  The preferred prey of the Barn Owl includes mice, voles, and other rodents.

As its common name suggests, the Barn Owl often frequents farmlands and fields.  In pre-Colombian times, this species likely nested in large, hollow trees; however, with the settlement of the land by Europeans, Barn Owls happily took up residence in silos, tobacco sheds, various outbuildings, and of course, in barns.  When present, Barn Owls can be difficult to detect, and purposeful searching may be required to find them.

An uncommon and rarely observed species, the Barn Owl has been declining in abundance for the past several decades.  Likely reasons for the decline include a loss of habitat, the destruction or decay of old barns, the switch by farmers from wooden barns with gaps or openings to fully-enclosed metal barns, and also the possible displacement or predation of the Barn Owl by Great Horned owls.

The Barn Owl occurs widely throughout North Carolina, but is not common.  To our knowledge, Polk County has never reported an occurrence of this species, but it has been observed nesting just across the state line in Spartanburg County, South Carolina.  There is a recent record of nesting in Burke County also.  Barn Owls could very well be found in Polk County, and as an easily identified species, there should be no mistake in identifying it.  The Pacolet Conservancy would be very interested in hearing from readers who may have knowledge of Barn Owls spotted in the county.

If you have information relating to this species, please contact PAC at 828-859-5060, or e-mail comments, questions, or photos to, landprotection@pacolet.org.

All of the Polk County’s Most Wanted can be viewed on the PAC website, www.pacolet.org.  Click on the “conservation” tab and scroll down and click on the “Polk County’s Most Wanted” tab.

PAC has also created a “Pocket Guide” of “Polk County’s Most Wanted” that can be printed and taken in the field!  The pocket guide can be accessed on PAC’s website too.

article submitted by Pam Torlina & written by David Campbell