Recent News

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